Pincushion Pony

Skipper's first acupunctureThe first time I ever saw acupuncture done in real life (as opposed to seeing it in an alternative health care documentary) was on a horse. But this was twenty years ago, before stuff like this was mainstream.

A student from California had a guy come out to the barn and stick hypodermic needles all over her horse. I was amazed that the horse tolerated it, and at the time I thought the whole thing seemed a little crazy.

But we often dismiss what we don’t understand, and I like to think I have more of an open mind nowadays. Especially when it comes to Skipper and his comfort. I’m pretty much willing to try anything within reason if it might help.

Equine acupunctureHe’s been struggling with an abscess (oh, the joys of Cushings), which thankfully now has opened up but is still draining after over a week of soaking it in epsom salts and wrapping it.

The day before it started draining, I had the vet come out to take a look at him and do some acupuncture therapy because she said that it’s usually very effective for offering horses in chronic pain some relief. Considering all of Skipper’s arthritis and residual issues from his bout with EPM last April, I figured it was worth a try.

He didn’t seem too keen at first, but after a few needles were inserted he relaxed, or maybe just accepted the fact that people were messing with him and tolerated it because he knew that there would be carrots after it was all over.

Targeted acupunctureShe even put some needles around his hoof, up above the coronary band. I’m not saying that’s why the abscess started draining the next day because it could just be coincidental, but he’d been favoring that foot pretty much since the first of the year, which leads me to think this abscess was brewing for a long time without any sign of draining. So if nothing else, I’m pretty sure the acupuncture didn’t do him any harm.

The weird thing was that the needles moved around once they were inserted. Well, some of them did, and a few moved around a LOT. There were two needles that didn’t want to come out easily because the muscle fibers or whatever clamped around them. There was one on each side of his rump like that, so his muscles back there are tight and tense, poor guy. It’s hard to compensate for front-end soreness when there’s hind-end issues as well.

Equine AcupunctureUltimately, I think it did help him, and we’ll probably have the vet do it again at some point. Right now though, I’ll be glad when this doozy of an abscess stops draining and goes away already. In addition to copious amounts of pus, there was a rather large pocket of gas at his toe frighteningly close to his coffin bone. It was visible on the X-rays. But thankfully–and luckily–his coffin bone wasn’t involved. That would have been a much more serious situation.


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