Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Equine Acupuncture: Johnny Gets Some

Not usually a fan of 'alternative therapies', I have broken down and had John done with a treatment of equine acupuncture. For 3 reasons:

1. He has stopped rolling all the way over when he rolls. Instead he rolls on one side only and stops himself with a grunt, then gets up. He used to be like a bumbly bug and roll all the way & back again.

2. He has the rush-downhill habit that I have not been able to address with training. I wonder about back pain.

3. He developed a 'sweet spot' on his back; when I would curry there, he would practically swoon and would lean so hard against the curry that it became pretty vigorous back massage.

I know all this doesn't add up to a critical situation but I am interested in prevention if possible. I love this horse!!!!! and if he needs something adjusted, I'm hoping I can spot it in time.

Plus: A vet in our area went over to acupuncture exclusively last year, and I trusted her and was willing to invest in her new career to see what might happen.

She began with an analysis using a wooden stick about 4 inches long and about a half inch wide; she pressed this into critical points to test reaction.

John showed no reaction to any of this initial testing except for one spot behind the poll on the right side. There he reacted clearly: he bobbed his head and waved it around. Every time.

The vet said this diagnostic spot is connected with the left hind and especially the hock. Really?? Right ear, left hock. OK. I am skeptical and willing, 50/50 at this point.

The needles are long (about 4 inches) but they are so slim that John showed no awareness of their presence, their insertion, nothing.

He just stood there and his eyes closed part way.

Then (timing is everything) the horses started to get their evening feed. So the 15 minutes of quiet meditative standing turned in to 15 minutes of greedy salivating dancing with needles sticking out; John was certain someone else was eating his supper.

However we persisted and he got quiet again, then time was up and needles were removed.

As the vet removed the last needle, what do yo suppose happened???

John elevated his left hind leg and hugged it higher into his body than I've ever seen it go; flex, hold, release.

I have another appointment for December 1. The theory behind acupuncture sounds to me half crazy and half sensible, so maybe John will get a 50% benefit at least.

Meanwhile we are getting in some awesome late rides, each one stolen from the chill grasp of Old Man Winter:


Petra said...

thanks for sharing and keep us posted on how's he doing...i've been considering acupuncture for my boy and would love to know if your boy responds well and if you can see any difference

David said...

Taryn D?

Funder said...

I am vaguely skeptical of acupuncture, too, but I've had good experiences with it. The first time, I had Champ and Silky (my only two at the time) evaluated by a dedicated equine-acu-guy. He poked briefly yet thoroughly at Champ and pronounced that nothing was wrong with him, then spent about 45 minutes poking needles in Silky and popping her spine with chiropractic moves. She looked more blissed out than I ever saw - ears flopping, almost falling asleep, lips droopy - it was like she was tranq'd.

A couple years later, a different acupuncturist came to my new barn. I asked him to evaluate all of my horses (had three at that point) and he briefly poked all of them and pronounced them in good shape. I watched him work on some other boarders, and they all LOVED his work.

I am always impressed when you offer someone the chance to do business with you (or rip you off!) and they decline, because you don't need the service. The horses seem to love acupuncture / chiro work, and the practitioners I've met have been honest, so I'm sold on it. I hope it helps John!

photogchic said...

I see Johnny is wearing his Protectavest....how cool! It sounds like his therapy session may have been just what he needed. Keep us posted on what you learn and notice about the treatment.

c2b said...

This sounds really interesting. There are so many charlatans out there but animals don't know what is supposed to happen so can't fake their responses.
Do you take this much care of your own aches and pains?

Kate said...

I've never done acupuncture, but many people seem to have good results with it. I used to be a skeptic of chiro as well, but have seen amazing results with my horses, although finding a really good chiropractor isn't always easy.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Very interesting. I have no experience with acupuncture and will look forward to John's next appointment.

Serena said...

I love love love my acupuncturist. Haven't tried it on Roxie yet . . .

Flying Lily said...

Petra: Will do. So far I have noticed an enhanced interest in galloping as in full flat-out gallop maintained for quite a distance. This is new as usually his gallop slows to a lolloping canter pretty quickly.

David: Yes, our mutual friend Taryn!

Funder: Very interesting. yes, when they could make money from you and choose not to, that's impressive.

Photogchic: Yes we are in the midst of fire-arms deer hunting here and he has his ProtectaVest bandana and quarter sheet, and I have a blaze orange sweatshirt. I feel pretty safe but fear I am causing forest animals to die of heat attacks. ^-^

c2b: Ha. No I can only afford to pamper one of us! And John is It.

Kate: At my former boarding barn I did do chiro once a year for John and twice a year for my thoroughbred (now sold). But the easiest chiropractor to get, also smoked in the barn, which made everyone uncomfortable. So I let that go when I moved.

OnceUpon: Next appt is Dec.1st so I'll post a report.

Serena: I have heard many good reports on acupuncture from humans. A friend derived great benefit and relief from TMJ pain. so I am hopeful.

Anonymous said...

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Breathe said...

Very interesting! I just had a long conversation with a friend who is a vet and is starting to do more alternative approaches - with pretty amazing results. It will be so interesting to see what happens!