Should You Try Alternative Bodywork Therapies?

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The stubborn lameness that's un-diagnosable; the injury that hasn't responded to treatment; the horse that is slightly improved but still not quite sound-these are some of the reasons people seek alternative treatments for their horses.

Some "alternative" therapies have been around for thousands of years. Others are relatively new on the scene. Acupuncture, for example, is an ancient Chinese healing tradition and has been shown to help both humans and horses manage-or even alleviate-pain. Massage therapy can help soft tissue injuries. Chiropractic adjustments can help a horse that feels odd or uneven but isn't quite lame.

Most alternative treatments, which range from body work to herbal remedies, are rarely harmful and in some cases may help. And some equine veterinarians have studied chiropractic, acupuncture, or other alternative therapies.

Before trying out an alternative treatment, ask your veterinarian for recommendations of practitioners, and if he or she thinks your horse is a candidate for a particular therapy. You might also check with other horse owners for ideas.