The philosophy of alternative treatments for humans has been growing for quite some time in the Western Hemisphere. They have always existed, but traditional medicine was, and still is today to a certain degree, the main healthcare that people seek for themselves. However, nowadays, people are starting to remember that if chemical products and traditional treatments aren’t adequate, or even dangerous, for our health, then they could very well be hazardous for Snowball, Fido and Cookie (cheers Rene!).
The only problem is that not all of them have been researched. Beware of the naturopath that claims that snake oil is the cure for your horse’s rash. You need to verify that they are legit, and one of the ways is to search for your local naturopath organization, and to ask them for certification. Never use the care of a practitioner that hasn’t learned his craft from a knowledgeable source.
But, if you are requesting the care of a practitioner that studied acupuncture from an experienced professional, and you can verify his qualifications, by all means, go for it! The rule of thumb is to stick to those who practice a form of treatment that is well-known and evidence-based (although traditional medicine will tell you that NONE of them have been proven reliable, this is not the case – they just don’t want to lose your ‘business’).
One last thing you need to remember is that some cannot be done at home. If you want to try yourself at cracking your horse’s back, please get the full certification first. Massages and herbal medicine are fine, so long as you have read up on them thoroughly and perhaps even taken a class or two. And yet again, I will remind you that veterinary care cannot be fully replaced.
Here are some of the most important ones and what you can expect from them:
In China, this form of treatment has been used for over three thousand years. It is based on the idea that the body contains what are called ‘pressure points’ (which are also used for massages) and that if you stimulate them in some manner or other – in this case, through the use of needles – there is a medicinal benefit that can heal or at least help heal certain ailments. They are called meridians, which are points that connect pathways and if they are blocked, it can stop the body’s energy from flowing the right way. At times, the needles are twirled to give added stimulus to the point, and it can last between five to thirty minutes.
Anyone who may not truly be qualified to do this but tell you they can shine a light on those spots and still heal you will only hurt your checkbook, not you or your horse. But, you will know right away if you didn’t get what you were looking for.
Studies have been done to verify that equines respond well, and they do. However, by law in certain states, only vets can administer acupuncture. This could also be a good way to avoid ending up with a charlatan.
This sort of health issue is related to the back, the neck and the pelvis areas. They are normally the result of poor care of these areas or from an injury per se. The horse will typically feel spasms or start having inflamed joints along the spine.
This will be healed by the practitioner first searching for the painful areas, then, when the stiff and sore parts are found, will apply quick thrusts to reduce the pain. The purpose is to help bring back the natural movement of the bones and muscles.
Do not ask to administer chiropractic care if the injuries are still recent, or if there is bone or muscle damage. These need to be treated by a vet first. The chiropractic care can complement any surgery after the wounds have healed.
As per with acupuncture, there are charlatans to be avoided. Always check that the person you are asking to give you this service has all the necessary accreditations. Asking your vet is a good start. Also, note that after treatment, horses (and humans!) are normally very stiff and need a day or two to recover, and it can take a few sessions before the progress starts to show.
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