Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into certain points in the body to achieve a desired healing response through energy rebalancing.

Philosophy of Acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) interprets disease as a state of imbalance in the organism. The imbalance is between the "yin" and the "yang." Yin is represented by the color white in the Tao symbol. It is cold, negative, deficiency. Yang is represented by the color black in the Tao symbol. It is hot, positive, excess. Everything in nature can be categorized as yin or yang and the balance of life depends on their interrelationships. If yin and yang are not in balance, "dis-ease" occurs. According to TCM, "Qi" or energy travels through the body via meridians or channels. There are 14 paired meridians, each containing various numbers of acupuncture points. 12 of the meridians are named after organ systems and each meridian communicates with its associated organ or organ function. These are LUNG & LARGE INTESTINE, STOMACH & SPLEEN, HEART & SMALL INTESTINE, BLADDER & KIDNEY, PERICARDIUM & TRIPLE HEATER, GALL BLADDER & LIVER. The GOVERNING VESSEL travels along the dorsal midline while the CONCEPTION VESSEL travels along the ventral midline. Although some of these ideas may seem foreign to us, we should keep an open mind and realize that the Chinese developed the ideas of homeostasis and negative feedback long before Western medical science existed. They described these interrelationships between health and disease in their own poetic way.

Science of Acupuncture

Acupuncture points are areas of concentrated nerve bundles and blood vessels. These regions have a unique property of increased electrical conductivity. These loci or acupuncture points can be manipulated to influence the flow of qi along the meridians in order to rebalance the energy within a body. When a needle is placed in an acupuncture point, a signal travels along that peripheral nerve to reach the spinal cord. Some of the results include blockage of pain, an endorphin release, and increased blood flow. Stimulation of particular points has been proven to enhance the immune system and to effect the release of certain hormones. These effects reinforce the connections between the nervous system and the endocrine and immune systems.

Uses for Acupuncture

Acupuncture may be used for a variety of conditions. In the performance horse, it can be used to treat musculoskeletal conditions as well as allergies, skin problems, reproductive disorders, neurologic problems, gastrointestinal problems, etc. It is very beneficial to treat minor sports-related injuries as they occur in order to avoid further injury secondary to compensation. In horses, "aqua-puncture" is often used. This is the insertion of small gauge hypodermic needles into the acupuncture points and the injection of liquid through them. Often vitamin B12 is injected and may be mixed with sterile water, DMSO, or a homeopathic such as Traumeel¨. An acupuncturist may also use solid needles, especially around joints or the face. Electrical stimulation may be employed to add energy to the system. Remember that acupuncture is classified as a "complementary" therapy in veterinary medicine. "Complementary" therapy means in conjunction with other therapies that may be employed. Acupuncture does not replace conventional veterinary medicine. In an emergency situation such as a colic or acute musculoskeletal injury, call your regular veterinarian as pharmaceutical medicine and/ or surgery may be in order.

2. What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is specifically correcting subluxations in the spinal column and extremity joints via high-speed, short-lever adjustments/ manipulations by hand or instrument. A subluxation may be defined as a "dysfunction" in any joint which causes biomechanical changes including altered range of motion with pathologic changes in nerve, muscle, ligaments, blood supply, and connective tissue.

History of Chiropractic

"Chiropractic" is derived from the Greek words, "chiros," meaning, "hand," and "praktike," meaning, "practice." Hence, chiropractic was originally defined as the use of the hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Skeletal manipulation dates back to ancient China, Greece, and Egypt. Healing traditions in these cultures used spinal manipulation to treat musculoskeletal (anatomical muscle and bone) as well as somatovisceral (soft tissue and organ) pain and dysfunction. Hippocrates, western civilization's Father of Medicine said, "Look well to the spine for the cause of disease." In the late 1890's, D.D. Palmer opened the first school of chiropractic in the United States. More recently, veterinary chiropractic was formalized in the late 1980's by Dr. Sharon Willoughby, DVM, DC who founded the "Options for Animals school" for veterinarians (VMD's/ DVM's) and chiropractors (DC's).

Philosophy of Chiropractic

Although there are numerous philosophies of chiropractic, one basic premise lies in the concept of an "innate intelligence" which every body possesses. This is an inherent life force that tends towards self-healing by maintaining a normal relationship between structure and function.

Science of Chiropractic

The goal of a chiropractic adjustment or manipulation is to remove a vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). A VSC is a spinal misalignment or joint dysfunction, which affects normal neurologic and biomechanical function. Chiropractic adjustments address the nervous system by affecting the spinal cord housed within the vertebral column as well as peripheral nerves housed within joints. It acts to "reset" the nervous system, allowing the animal to regain normal interaction of its anatomical structure with gravity. Chiropractic may be performed by hand or with an instrument. The instrument is a small, hand-held device called a "chiropractic adjusting tool" (CAT). It delivers a high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust in a specific line of correction to affect a joint and "reset" the nerves involved. Mallets, boards, and other implements that may cause injury should not be used.

Uses for Chiropractic

Chiropractic may be used for a variety of conditions including maintenance of joint and spinal health as well as treatment of injuries from training or traumatic accidents. Chiropractic care can help eliminate structural and neurological dysfunctions, normalize joint function and balance, and maintain long-term soundness. It addresses the imbalances that cause restriction (hypomobility) in movement. These subluxations, if not corrected, often result in degenerative pathologies in other joints from compensatory overuse (hypermobility). Chiropractic can be used to treat musculoskeletal conditions including neck, back, and tail pain, muscle spasms, nerve injuries, TMJ (jaw) pain/ difficulty chewing, and joint pain/arthritis. In the horse, pain may manifest as subtle gait changes, bucking, rearing, girthiness, balance problems, hesitating/ refusing at jumps, difficulty or inability to achieve/maintain lead changes, cross-cantering, difficulty lying down/getting up, not being able to roll over, or simply a change in usual behavior. Chiropractic may also be used to treat internal medicine disorders such as gastrointestinal problems, bladder dysfunction, reproductive disorders, etc. Consider the "somato-visceral" effects - when the nerves are compromised by a subluxation as they travel from the spinal cord through the foramen in the vertebral column to the organs, resulting in organ dysfunction.

Remember that chiropractic is classified as a "complementary" therapy in veterinary medicine. "Complementary" therapy means in conjunction with other therapies that may be employed. Chiropractic does not replace conventional veterinary medicine. In an emergency situation such as a colic or acute musculoskeletal injury, call your regular veterinarian as pharmaceutical medicine and/ or surgery may be in order.

3. How will I know my horse needs acupuncture/ chiropractic work?

Any horse may benefit from acupuncture and chiropractic. Your horse may benefit if he is in work (light, moderate, or heavy), competing regularly or sporadically, is a weekend warrior, plays hard in the pasture, has ever been cast in a stall, has ever slipped/fallen, has allergies, has been sick in the last year, has had an ill-fitting saddle, has had surgery, has not had regularly-scheduled dental work, or has not had consistent farriery, to name a few!

4. How often should my horse be treated?

Frequency and duration of treatments vary with every case. I prefer to see a horse at least twice within an approximate 4-week time span. Bodywork is like "peeling an onion". The first treatment will address obvious compensations and may get to the primary problem; however, the second treatment is likely to be synergistically beneficial.

Some horses in heavy work may come in for treatments once per 4 - 6 weeks as maintenance. This works well to prevent a minor sports-related injury from becoming a chronic, more severe lameness. Other pleasure horses may come in for treatments once every 3 - 6 months or on an as-needed basis Horses with allergies should be treated a few weeks before the expected onset of allergy season once or more during allergy season.

5. How long does a treatment take?

Examination and treatment for a new patient usually take 1-1/2 hours, while follow up appointments usually last 1 hour.

6. How much does it cost?

One fee covers acupuncture, chiropractic, reiki, craniosacral therapy, dental evaluation, and saddle evaluation if indicated. First appointments cost a bit more than follow up appointments. Please call or email for current fee schedule.

7. How can I schedule an appointment?

Call 303-653-1058 and/ or email for availability.

8. What should I bring to the appointment?

  1. Download, print, and bring completed New Client History and Disclaimer forms from the "forms" page on the website.
  2. Please bring records of any pertinent veterinary diagnostics (x-rays, ultrasound exams, nuclear scintigraphy, etc.).
  3. Please bring your tack and a used/ unwashed saddle pad. We may get to saddle evaluation on the first appointment, although it's often more valuable information obtained during the second appointment.

9. What if my horse is currently on medications?

Please note the medications he's currently receiving when making the appointment. Some medications will affect acupuncture diagnostic capabilities while others will not.

10. What is Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral therapy is a method of balancing the craniosacral system, which consists of the brain & spinal cord, the fluids which surround them (cerebrospinal fluid or CSF), the membranes (meninges) which contain the fluids and the bones & tissues to which the membranes attach (cranial bones, vertebrae, and fascia).

History of Craniosacral Therapy

In the early 1900’s, Dr. William Sutherland, D.O., then a student at the American School of Osteopathy in Missouri, became intrigued by the anatomical design of the bones in the human skull. In medical school, he had been taught that the bones of the skull were solidly fused by calcification and therefore, motion was impossible. Consequently, he studied the human skull bones and sutures and defined the constant interosseus cranial motion. Craniosacral therapy was introduced into the osteopthic profession more than 75 years ago. A few pioneering individuals have extrapolated from human studies to teach craniosacral therapy for animals.

Philosophy of Craniosacral Therapy

Dr. Sutherland described the CSF to have a “spiritual intelligence,” and called it the “Breath of Life.” To manipulate this “Breath of Life” requires a delicate and sensitive touch with only the purest of intention. To utilize craniosacral therapy as a healing modality requires seeing an individual as an integrated whole: body, mind, and spirit. It is an area of blending allopathic interventional medicine with the psychophysiological self-regulation capabilities of an individual.

Science of Craniosacral Therapy

A craniosacral practitioner’s goal is to balance the “cranial wave” to help restore homeostasis to the whole being so that it may respond to any challenges with natural resistance.

The fourth ventricle of the brain produces cerebrospinal fluid which flows throughout the craniosacral system. Resorption of the CSF is constant. When the pressure within the system climbs to a certain point, the production of the CSF is shut off. When the pressure within the system falls to a certain point, the production of CSF is resumed. This creates a rhythmic motion within the semi-closed hydraulic system known as the “cranial wave” which can be felt throughout the body.

When there is a restriction in the flow of CSF, there is imbalance in the body. The sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) gets activated, causing many physiologic changes. When flexibility is restored to the craniosacral system, the function of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and recover) is restored and the “self-healing mode” can function again.

Uses for Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy is beneficial for any animal who has undergone stress - physical or emotional. Physical trauma may be from a fall or impact injury, but it also may be from improper training techniques or a rider’s own imbalanced body in the saddle. Emotional trauma may be from confinement, lack of herd socialization, or improper training techniques, for example. Any time an individual undergoes a trauma, if it is not released naturally, it will be stored in the body. In domestication, horses may not be able to release that trauma due to human’s expectations regarding behavior and manners, stall/pen confinement, etc. When a frightened horse cannot release his stress through natural “fight or flight” instinctive behaviors, his body’s natural program to deal with stress is interrupted and that stress gets stored within the body, negatively affecting the craniosacral system.

Remember that craniosacral therapy is classified as a “complementary” therapy in veterinary medicine. “Complementary” therapy means in conjunction with other therapies that may be employed. Craniosacral therapy does not replace conventional veterinary medicine. In an emergency situation such as a colic or acute musculoskeletal injury, call your regular veterinarian as pharmaceutical medicine and/ or surgery may be in order

11.What is Reiki?

Reiki is a natural system of healing and enlightenment using light and energy. It is passed on to a patient by laying on of hands.

Definition of Reiki

Reiki is a healing technique that is passed from teacher to student through an attunement process, starting with the one who first channeled the energy. It does not require developing an ability over time through meditations and other exercises. A Reiki practitioner does not guide the energy with the hands; Reiki healing is guided by a higher power. The Reiki practitioner is not the healer, but is the channeler of healing energy. Reiki can do no harm. It reawakens the healing capacity that exists within all of us.

History of Reiki

In ancient times, healers or "shaman" used universal reiki energy to heal and guide people to find balance with nature. The energy had been handed down from teacher to student over the years, avoiding public attention.

Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist monk, re-discovered Reiki in 1922. He had been searching for the method by which Jesus healed the sick. After many years of studying and research, Dr. Usui had a visionary experience atop Mount Kurama in north Kyoto. After 21 days of fasting and meditating, he received the sacred symbols and Reiki energy.

Principles of Reiki

Just for today, do not worry. Just for today, do not anger. Honor your parents, teachers, and elders. Earn your living honestly. Show gratitude to every living thing.

Uses for Reiki

Reiki is beneficial in acute as well as chronic illnesses. It aids in healing by relieving pain, reducing stress, reducing negative side effects, and shortening healing time. Reiki works on all levels to support the body's natural ability to heal itself in balance with nature. It is also used for self-cleansing, self-growth, and self-empowerment as we aim to reach our higher self.

Remember that Reiki is classified as a "complementary" therapy in veterinary medicine. "Complementary" therapy means in conjunction with other therapies that may be employed. Reiki does not replace conventional veterinary medicine. In an emergency situation such as a colic or acute musculoskeletal injury, call your regular veterinarian as pharmaceutical medicine and/ or surgery may be in order.