Henry had his chiropractic/acupuncture appointment last week. He’s had chiro a couple times before, but he’s never had acupuncture so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. And, well… although it might have been the first time, it definitely won’t be the last.
The practitioner we used was a new one for us – she’s a vet that specializes in acupuncture. I’ve not had any personal experience with acupuncture before at all, either human or equine, so I had no real opinion about it either way beforehand, just a healthy dose of skepticism. I was not convinced that a few specifically placed tiny needles could really make much difference, but ultimately I figured “hey, why the hell not?”… worst case scenario I burn some money. And if there’s one thing that I’ve gotten really good at after 17 years of owning horses, it’s this:
She started out by asking me some questions about Henry, his history, his personality, and then watched him walk up and back in the barn aisle. She immediately noticed that the right hind wasn’t moving as freely as the left hind and one hip was higher than the other. First order of business: chiropractic adjustment.
She started at his poll and worked her way back, finding several spots that needed adjustment. When she did the right side of his neck I swear his eyes just about rolled back in his head and he immediately relaxed a bit. The real “trouble” spot, though, was basically everything near and/or connected to his SI area. Which kind of explains a lot.
She also noticed that he was very very tight in his psoas, so she released those (and showed me how to do it so I can maintain it), explaining that the psoas was basically like the human hip flexor. Everything was starting to add up when you compared what she was finding with what I had been feeling. How he felt “stuck” in the right lead canter, and had trouble crossing behind in the lateral work, and seemed to want to hold his neck slighty bent to the right.
Then we moved on to the acupuncture. I wasn’t sure how Henry would react (he is a HUGE wuss about, uh, everything) but he didn’t seem to notice as she stuck a couple needles at his poll, a couple more in his chest, his neck, his legs, and then basically made a giant pincushion of his SI area. The only one he reacted to was the right fetlock, which she said connected to the spot where he was so “out” in his neck. Something about meridians maybe? I dunno, here, learn things:
Then, to up the ante of the treatment a bit, we shocked the shit out of him! Just kidding, no we DID NOT do that, it just kinda looks like it. Electroacupuncture really just uses a very very mild pulsating current that helps further stimulate the acupuncture points… like regular acupuncture on steroids. It looked cool, anyway, and Henry offered no objections while she worked.
After that was done she gave me some exercises to do with him to help keep that SI area loosened up, wrote down her findings, and we made another appointment. Due to just how tight and “jacked up” (my own very scientific term) he was, she warned me that it wouldn’t be fixed overnight. Ultimately he might end up needing the SI injected, but hopefully with a few more sessions, if he responds well, we could get him ironed out and avoid that.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much difference. I figured maybe he’d feel a little looser and his stride would open up a bit, but the chiro he’s had in the past has only made minimal difference, and what kind of magic can a few needles really do? Um, well, he felt freaking amazing the next day. Huge walk, very straight, very happy to go forward, steadier in the contact, and the right lead canter no longer felt stuck at all. WTF KIND OF VOODOO IS THIS???
We’ll see how long it lasts. Unfortunately it poured buckets all weekend long so his turnout time and my riding time were minimal… not ideal for keeping him loose. His next appointment is next week. I’m really hoping that some regular treatments can get everything ironed back out to where it should be. Either way though – I think we’re on to something here!