Peninsula Equine Veterinarians


Alternative Therapies

Using acupuncture, manipulation and homeopathy, we can further attend to equine welfare. 

This may be as simple as calming your competition horse down when the pressure is up, to enabling your best friend to be more supple under saddle.


Acupuncture is defined as the stimulation of a specific point on the body with a specific method, resulting in a therapeutic homeostatic effect. The specific point on the body is called “Shu-Xu” or acupuncture point (acupoint). The ancient Chinese discovered 361 acupoints in humans and 173 acupoints in horses.

Modern research shows that acupoints are located in the areas where there is a high density of free nerve endings, mast cells, small arterioles, lymphatic vessels and the dense connective tissue represents a different spatial configuration as compared to the rest of the normal skin. A great number of studies indicate that stimulation of acupoints induces the release of β – endorphin, serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Therefore, acupuncture for pain relief is well supported by these scientific studies. As more studies are conducted, the mechanism of this ancient therapy will be better understood.

  • Neurological disorders: Laryngeal hemiplegia (roaring), facial and radial nerve paralysis, seizure.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders: Diarrhoea, gastric ulcers, colic, prolapse, constipation and impaction.
  • Other Chronic conditions: Recurrent airway obstruction (heaves), asthma, cough, uveitis, behavioural problems, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, infertility, hyperthyroidism, anhidrosis (non-sweater), renal failure, geriatric weakness and skin problems.
  • Performance enhancement: Immune system stimulation and the prevention of disease.

Cautions and Contraindications

 Acupuncture is cautiously used, or may be contraindicated with the following conditions:

  • Fracture
  • Pregnancy
  • Open Wound
  • Infectious diseases

Is acupuncture painful?

Acupuncture is a very safe medical procedure when administered by a qualified practitioner.

A proper acupuncture treatment may induce distention, and heaviness sensation along with contraction, of local muscle. Over 95% of patients are comfortable with acupuncture therapy. Due to the relaxation effect, some animals will fall asleep during acupuncture treatment. Sedation is not recommended before acupuncture treatment, as it may interfere with the acupuncture effect.

What physiological effects are induced by Acupuncture?

Numerous studies show that acupuncture stimulation induces the following physiological effects:

  • Analgesic effect
  • Regulation of gastrointestinal motility
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Immuno-regulation
  • Hormone and reproductive regulation
  • Antifebrile effect; microcirculation promotion

What can acupuncture help?

Clinical trials indicate that acupuncture therapy can be effective in the following conditions:

  • Musculoskeletal problems: Lameness, muscle soreness, back pain, disc problems, arthritis, osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease, laminitis, navicular disease, sport-related injuries including tendons and ligaments, muscle, joint and bone injuries.


Benefits of Equine Massage & Manipulation Therapy

Horses are athletes - from the hacking pleasure horse right through to the top level competition horse. Horses have adapted over time to carrying the weight of a rider on their back and to the demands we place on them, and we have the responsibility to make sure they can do this as comfortably as possible.

Human athletes always warm up and stretch before competing and have regular therapy sessions to enable them to perform at their best – horses can benefit from the same treatment to help them keep fit and healthy and at the top of their game.

Equine Sports Massage and Manipulation can help to prevent injury to your horse as well as aid recovery. Plus, a massage is a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the majority of horses!

Here are some of the benefits of equine massage and passive stretching combined with joint manipulation:      

Benefits of Equine Massage - Horse running freely and comfortably

Increase and improve circulation/blood flow

  • Warms the muscles
  • Removes lactic acid
  • Relieves muscle fatigue
  • Releases muscle spasm
  • Improves muscle tone and elasticity
  • Improve range of movement
  • Reduces risk of pulled muscles
  • Minimise stiffness
  • Improve and reduce muscle atrophy/wastage
  • Induces rapid cell renewal and tissue repair
  • Speeds up recovery  

Increase joint movement and flexibility

  • Helps ease painful, sore joints
  • Helps keep joints flexible

Other Benefits

  • Relax the nervous system
  • Assist in co-ordination
  • An effective way of identifying injury post-competition

There are many tell-tale signs of when a horse is suffering from a problem that could be helped by massage and manipulation therapy. On our how do I know if my horse needs a treatment page we provide more details on how to find out whether your horse could benefit from equine massage therapy?

Although there are many benefits of equine massage therapy it is not a cure. However, scientific research has shown that it can help to relieve pain and discomfort, improve a horse’s range of movement and enhance performance as well as inducing relaxation as detailed in this article by Horse and Hound. Muscles and joints never forget what has happened to them, so an old injury could still be affecting the horse. 

P.O. BOX 325, Somerville, Victoria

Google Analytics tracking code