Anxiety and Equine Acupuncture

Horse standing

In practice, acupuncture referrals for horses are most commonly for musculoskeletal conditions followed by gastrointestinal disorders.

Though, the scope of application and effectiveness of acupuncture is much broader than this and includes a wide range of both physical and mental conditions. This modality which is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine address the body and all its structures and functions as a whole, including emotional and behavioural challenges.

For example, a 2019 study has shown that horses treated with laser acupuncture before a stressful event had a statistically significant smaller heart rate increase than those treated with sham laser acupuncture. Also, the resulting peak heart rate returned to baseline in a statistically significantly shorter time period in horses treated with laser acupuncture compared to those treated with sham laser acupuncture.

Acupuncture is generally considered to be a strong method for prevention as it may detect and address imbalances in the body before issues become more obvious. Here, it was demonstrated that laser acupuncture could be used for horses to more readily accept a stressful event with more rapid return to homeostasis.

[1] Ying; Bhattacharjee; Wu; Effect of Laser Acupuncture on Mitigating Anxiety in Acute Stressed Horses: A Randomized, Controlled Study