Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pins and Needles

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might know that I'm the president of my university's dressage team. It's something that I really enjoy even though it adds a lot of stress to my life!!

One of my roles is to plan events - speakers, clinics, shows, etc. I'm always nervous when I schedule a speaker or clinician because I want people to like them and learn something in the process. So with that in mind, I scheduled a veterinarian (Dr. S) who does acupuncture and chiropractic work on horses. She's an acquaintance of my parents' and I've seen flyers around for various presentations that she's given but I hadn't ever been able to attend one. I ended up calling her and she was super nice about coming all the way out to present to us.

It was great! I was a little nervous about how people would take it, since it's a more non-traditional treatment, not to mention that even though she is a veterinarian, she no longer practices "western" medicine and is certified in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) so that is what she solely practices. She was obviously very knowledgeable and passionate about what she does. Her presentation was very well put together and I enjoyed it.

She does a lot of electro-acupuncture because she says she gets better, faster
results than with just needles.

 It was especially interesting because I have a vet friend (Dr. P) who also does acupuncture, but she does the "western" version of it. Which is my way of saying - she does acupuncture and believes that it is useful to treat specific ailments, especially musculoskeletal pain, but not everything that it is said to be able to treat. Conservative thinking, like. So I kind of got to see both sides of the coin.

Dr. S was certified at the Chi Institute in Florida and worked in Kentucky for a while. According to her acupuncture is a lot more accepted and acupuncturists can work on 20 to 30 horses a day. Wow! She went over the history of acupuncture - out of all animals in China, horses were the highest on the totem pole since they were essential to maintaining independence as they were used in the army. She listed a lot of the different research papers that have shown the effects of acupuncture. I learned that the Chinese use five elements: earth, fire, water, metal and wood. I found that fascinating since I'm used to hearing of the four elements: wind, water, earth and fire. Where's the wind? Anyways, she told us some of her own experiences - one that I remember was that there was an "untrainable" horses (she called him a fire horse) that she treated and there was an almost immediate change in his attitude.

Dr. S recognized that most people call her as a last resort. Most people, when confronted with a problem, will go directly to a traditional vet. Then when they can't fix the horse, they then call her. She said that she wishes that they would call her earlier (though of course there are some things that she made sure to highlight that we call a vet first, for example wounds, eye ulcers and some other things), because acupuncture works best when used in conjunction with traditional medicine. She gave us some stats that showed the results of a study (in humans) that found with back pain, traditional medicine had a small success rate, traditional plus acupuncture had a high rate of success and then traditional medicine plus a placebo acupuncture (needles but not the real acupuncture points) had a medium rate of success. Interesting...

Overall, I think it was a successful presentation. One girl is planning on having her come out and work on her horse. The issue is that her horse colics like clockwork every year (sometimes down to the exact day) and nothing that the vet does can prevent it. I'm really interested to see if it helps!! I'm also interested in having her work on Jazz. She mentioned that acupuncture can be used for allergies - Jazz has sweet itch and nothing has really helped. It keeps coming back, though this past year it was the least intense it's ever been. Hmm. Only problem is that I'm leasing Jazz out so she's not really in my possession at the moment...

And Dr. P (my doctor friend, not the presenter) said she'd come out and work on Jetta for free. Ooh, yes! I think I'm going to jump on that.


  1. I recently got the opportunity to watch acupuncture being done one a horse. It's really a neat thing and very interesting to learn about. Especially when your privileged to have a person willing to answer your thousand questions:)

    Very cool!

  2. Cool cool cool! I love this, and we are having our Dr/Chiro come out on Thurs for round 2 of acupuncture as well. I'm fascinated by it.
    Have u ever tried feeding Jazz spirulina for sweet itch? It may help! xo

  3. very interesting! Please keep us posted! I am interested in the colic situation too! :)