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Rudy says "No!" to acupuncture

July 2, 2023

By Diane R. Jones

*Once you read this blog, you'll understand why I don't have a picture of Rudy getting acupuncture. Instead, I went through my phone and found this early picture of Ru (Thanksgiving morning 2016) looking especially sweet. I'm pretty sure it's because he was begging for more treats. Lol!

A long time ago, my back was hurting, and my gaits were off. Mom calls this lameness. None of the usual things were fixing the problem. Mom had the vet come to evaluate me, and the chiropractor adjusted my body. She had the massage therapist work on my tight and sometimes spasmed muscles, especially in my back, to loosen them up, but nothing worked.


Mom has a friend named Barbara. Barbara's horse Guinness lived at the barn where I met Mom, which is how they became friends. Barbara was a private practice equine veterinarian and certified in veterinary acupuncture for horses, woofs, and those small four-legged animals that make the meeeeowww sound. Whenever Mom was stumped by something going on with me, she called Barbara.


One afternoon, Barbara strolled into the barn as Mom was grooming me. I liked her, so I reached my nose out to say hi. She said, "Hi Rudy, good to see you." She stroked my neck and ran her hands down my back. I tensed my muscles as her fingers moved from my withers toward my rump. Meanwhile, Mom and Barbara made lots of noises with their mouths. Most of the time, I could tell they were talking about me because I heard my name, or they were looking at me.


Mom stepped away, and Barbara examined my back, flanks, and legs. When she was done, Mom took me off the crossties, and we went outside, where she asked me to trot, walk, and trot some more. Afterward, we came in, and Mom clipped the crossties to my halter.


I heard Barbara say acupuncture. I didn't know what that word meant, but I soon found out. Mom agreed to this treatment because she thought it might help me and had positive results from it herself. Apparently, she doesn't mind needles as much as I do, although I don't understand why. They hurt!


Acupuncture is a healing technique used for many years to treat various ailments in humans and animals. It has become increasingly popular in veterinary medicine in recent years. Horse owners turn to it to help reduce or eliminate their horse's pain and discomfort caused by arthritis, injuries, and inflammation. Acupuncture can also be used for various other issues, such as respiratory, digestive, and behavioral issues caused by anxiety.


Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into specific points on the body. The goal of acupuncture is to balance the energy flow throughout the body, which promotes healing and reduces pain and inflammation. All of this would be great if I tolerated needles, but I don't.


The humans can usually jab me once, but after that, I'm onto them. From that point on, I'm combative. I might buck or dodge the person by moving backward quickly if I suspect they are trying to stick me again. One tactic I use is throwing my head into the air. I also constantly move, so it's nearly impossible to prick me again.


Barbara was calm and patient. She never became upset with my efforts to evade her. After what seemed to be an eternity, she inserted two needles into me. Not the result she hoped for, but since I was so reactive, she targeted two masterpoints. These are areas considered to be very strong and effective in treating problems.


After the pointy things were in me, they didn't hurt, and Barbara stopped mucking with me. I was able to relax a little and let my guard down. After a short time, she was next to me again, and I felt something and saw the needles in her hand. The treatment was over. I sighed and pleaded with Mom to put me back into the paddock.

I heard Barbara tell Mom that my reaction was quite extreme. Horses usually don't respond the way I did. The needles are thin and slide easily into the skin with a light tap, sometimes without much sensation. She told Mom horses sometimes found the treatment relaxing. They may even take a nap while the needles are in them.


Acupuncture helped me. My back felt better, and I wasn't lame anymore afterward, but because of my fuss, Mom decided it wasn't worth putting me through another treatment. Horse acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment option for many common equine conditions, but it's not for me!

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