Horses receiving alternative therapies

Published: Oct. 1, 2018 at 5:32 PM EDT
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Veterinarian Anne Bukenhofer is what you might call a “Horse Needler.” She twists and pushes 2-inch needles deep into the backside of horses.

In human years, Tony is about 63, so he’s had his share of injuries and arthritis from years of jumping.

"You can get pain control, you can get stress relief, you can help the horse feel a lot better," said Bukenhofer.

Bukenhofer says acupuncture works about the same in Tony as it does in people. Each point connects with an internal organ and needle stimulation releases pain-killing endorphins in the body.

Equine athletes can also get pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. Tubes draped over the horse’s body deliver low-level electromagnetic radiation.

“It supplies oxygen to the blood cells and it releases the toxins,” said Christine Nelson, a pulsed electromagnetic field therapist.

Another option is massage and tip-to-tail chiropractic adjustments. Veterinarian Kara Spillman says it’s about returning the horse’s nervous system to a natural state.

“There were patients that I knew I wasn’t getting to the root of the pain with traditional medicine and being about to offer this modality has meant that I’ve been able to help horses I wouldn’t have been able to help before," she said.

Tony’s owner says acupuncture is working. It's a change that’s getting him out of the stable and into the ring.