Horses thrive on pressure points
The practice of equine acupuncture started thousands of years ago in China and has been renewed by Goonellabah acupuncturist and shiatsu masseuse, Thomas Ebejer who this week was training a new group of equine acupuncturists as part of a two-year diploma course through the Australian College of Eastern Medicine.
"As soon as I finished my training in acupuncture and shiatsu in 1994, I immediately started to work on horses," Mr Ebejer said.
"They are just amazing animals, so intuitive, but they are treated like commodities; this is a way of giving something back to them for all of the service they give us."
Mr Ebejer found ancient Chinese equine acupuncture charts to use in his practice, and he has adapted these charts to include shiatsu pressure points as well.
"Horses have basically the same acupuncture points as humans, and you treat them for many of the same reasons that people may seek treatment," he said.
From muscular and skeletal problems to behavioural issues or trouble conceiving, horses as well as other animals can benefit from the therapy, Mr Ebejer said.
"For example, horses that have anhydrosis (inability to sweat) are not allowed to race, but I've successfully treated horses that have started sweating again within 20 minutes of a treatment," he said.
Last week Mr Ebejer has been training new acupuncturists on horses at the Seahorse Riding Centre, Tyagarah.
"The horses receive five days worth of treatment during the training clinic, and you can see the results," Mr Ebejer said, pointing to several rather relaxed looking horses being massaged by students.
One of the students, Wilba Thornberry of Orange, has trained in equine dentistry in the US and is adding equine acupuncture to his practice.
"I have used acupuncture myself after an injury in 2011, so I know it works," Mr Thornberry said.
Mr Thornberry treats a lot of camp draft and cutting horses and has seen the effects natural treatments can have on an injured animal.
"Once you release the stress of a horse's body, with three to five minutes of a treatment you can see them become relaxed," he said.