Two weeks after finishing Session 4 of the 2010 Spring Mixed Practice Acupuncture course, I was on my way to Coos Bay, Oregon for the last of my vet school summer externships. I would be working at a small animal practice on the southern coast of the state for two weeks, and taking a few days to visit my best friend.
My friend, Genie, who I hadn’t seen in nine years, lives on a small ranch in Ashland, Oregon with her two daughters, three dogs, a cat and five horses. I had asked her in advance if I might be able to practice some acupuncture on her horses, and she agreed. So, I packed some needles in my luggage (which, of course, was searched and granted with ok by airport security) and headed across the country.
After a few days of catching up, we went out to look at the horses. Being a dog/cat person, I had never treated a horse by myself, and was undeniably nervous. "Lil", a 17 year old quarter horse mare was my first victim..er..I mean, patient. Lil belongs to Rihana, Genie’s 17 year old daughter, who rides her in gymkhana and 4H events.
Lil’s tongue was pale and swollen and pulses deep and weak. She had ++ sensitivity at BL-23,24,26, and 54 and +++ sensitivity at Ba-jiao and Lu-gu on both sides of her body. I figured she had Kidney Qi Deficiency, with local hip stagnation, so I got out my lab notes and picked some points that would do some good and be easy for a rookie to find. I ended up dry needling local hip points, Bai-hui and the "Shen brothers", Bl-23,24,54 and ST-36. After treatment, Lil was much less sensitive to scanning and seemed quite relaxed. A few days later, Rihana and Lil ran their fastest times ever at a local gymkhana event. Was it a coincidence?
I left the next day for the coast, and had a great time at my externship. I performed my first "solo" spay and many cat neuters. I even was able to needle one of the veterinarians’ personal pet, a precious pug with some hind-end weakness and ataxia.
Upon returning to Ashland, Rihana begged me to treat Lil again. The County fair was a few days away and, as a senior, it was her last year to perform in 4H events. Now the pressure was on!
I examined Lil, and found that her tongue was no longer swollen, and was a nice light pink color. Her pulses felt equal on both sides. I scanned her and she had no sensitive areas on her left side, and only slight sensitivity in the right hip area. I went ahead and dry needled the same points as last treatment, amazed that she had improved so much with just one treatment two weeks earlier.
With much sadness, I said good-bye and boarded a plane to return to Florida. A few days later, Genie sent me a text. "Rihana and Lil are competing today. Lil is moving very well." I was so happy. Two days later, Genie sent me this picture via Facebook:
They had won Champion and Grand Champion in Gymkhana! This experience really gave me confidence to go ahead and try equine acupuncture, even though I don’t consider myself a "horse person". I already have multiple requests from Genie’s friends to return to Oregon to work on their horses!