Does Acupuncture for Horses Really Work?

Does Acupuncture for Horses Really Work?

Acupuncture for horses is a very effective treatment which has been used successfully in humans for well over 2000 years! You wouldn’t bat an eyelid at blood tests or medical examinations, so it stands to reason that human holistic treatment is also transferrable. We understand that one might have questions, so let us talk through a few points in order for you to make your own judgement with a full understanding.

Why veterinary acupuncture?

  • It is safe  and it can  only be carried out by a fully qualified veterinary surgeon so you know you are in the best hands.
  • It’s painless – the acupuncture treatment doesn’t cause any harm or damage to your animal. Despite the fact we use long needles, firstly, they’re so thin and sharp that they can pierce the skin perfectly, it’s likely that your animal may not even feel the sensation. Secondly, we always use brand new, sterile needles to keep it completely safe and sanitary and make sure to prevent infection or disease.
  • It’s quick and easy – the appointment is usually around 45 minutes, and the treatment itself tends to vary, but isn’t usually more than 20 minutes. Because we meet in a comfortable environment that considers your animal’s needs, it’s as easy as it could be, with our priority focus on your animal. If your horse is particularly anxious we can use a special laser device where no needles need to be inserted. Most horses however tolerate acupuncture much better than expected by their owner.
  • It’s effective – the use of acupuncture on humans and animals has gone back centuries, and it is still common practice today, which is some testament to its success. Ultimately, your goal – and ours – is to alleviate discomfort or ease pain for your animal, and both our treatment, and acupuncture treatment in general, is anecdotally and scientifically proven to alleviate pain and improve conditions.

What conditions can acupuncture for horses treat?

  • Shortness of stride, reluctance to move forward from the leg
  • General stiffness, inability to bend on one or both reins
  • Muscle soreness of the back, hindquarters neck and shoulders
  • Cold backs; evasion of saddling and girthing, dipping on mounting
  • Head tilt, inability to flex from the poll
  • Disunited or bunny-hopping in canter
  • Irritability and soreness during grooming
  • Head shaker syndromes
  • Un-level movement from behind
  • Hopping on the transition from walk to trot
  • Bucking on the transition from trot to canter
  • Arthritis
  • Sacroiliac pain
  • Post-surgery rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation after muscular/ligament injury

How can acupuncture benefit horses?

By virtue of the conditions acupuncture can treat, the benefit of acupuncture for horses is the alleviation of pain and discomfort and part or total relief from the suffering or difficulty your horse was previously experiencing.  This works via neurological pathways which are explained in detail on our website.

Naturally, as a result of veterinary acupuncture, they can be happier and healthier once they are feeling better. Whether that’s in a palliative care capacity and we’re able to make your time with your horse all the more valuable for knowing they’re not suffering as much, or whether that’s getting your animal back to performing at its best. Acupuncture is extremely beneficial, so they can go back to enjoy what they love.

What does a typical acupuncture treatment look like? 

Our veterinary surgeon will meet with you and your horse for around 45 minutes. If this isn’t your first appointment, we’ll record any changes from the last time we saw you both. 

During the appointment, you’ll discuss your animal’s environment, feeding, management and behaviour, concerns and goals. It might help to think of any information you think could be helpful in advance and having your horse’s medical records to hand might be useful. Our vet will also give your horse a physical examination. 

The acupuncture needles are inserted into the carefully chosen points and left for between 2 and 20 minutes. This duration depends on the age, fitness, strength of your horse, and the reason for the treatment. If your animal is particularly anxious, it’s possible to use an acupuncture laser instead of dry needling, although even the most anxious equines are usually fine with the treatment. 

Again, this won’t cause any pain – actually, most horses find it very relaxing, and sometimes even sedative! 

Are there side effects of acupuncture for horses?

As the treatment causes no harm, there won’t be any adverse physical effects. As a result, the only side effect you’re looking at is improvement. It is important to remember that this is an extra tool in our veterinary toolbox- not magic. The benefits are often cumulative and are led by the horses age, condition, pre-existing problems etc.


Hopefully, you’ve found this helpful and if you have any questions, we’re always happy to discuss our treatment with you. 

Ultimately, we can tell you about it, but most importantly, our happy, healthy, and healing clients are the best testament to the effectiveness of acupuncture for horses