Tuesdays with Tony

By now, I’m sure you all know that Dr. Abbott has recently been down in Ocala at the Chi Institute learning all about Equine Acupuncture so that we can better serve you and your horses, and so she can make this old cat feel like a spring chicken again. I never knew so much went into sticking needles into your horse, but WOWZA is it a lot of information! Apparently, every horse has a personality type and every personality type is prone to different illnesses and problems. Based on these personality types, along with multiple other factors, Dr. Abbott has learned how to diagnose your horse from a Chinese Medicine perspective and from there she has learned how to treat a number of different ailments your horse may be dealing with, some that you didn’t even know your horse had.

Personality Types

Wood: Wood personalities are confident, they are competitive, can sometimes be aggressive, and are often dominant. Most of our show horses are wood personalities, they have to be competitive to make it as a show horse.

Fire: Fire personalities want to be the center of attention; they are friendly and playful but often sensitive. These kinds of horses are the ones that are always getting into something, these are the mischievous ones who open stall doors and let all their friends out, too.

Earth: Earth personalities are mellow, easy going, friendly, slow moving, and tolerant. I’d like to consider myself an Earth personality.

Metal: Metal personalities are rather aloof, independent, and like rules and order.

Water: Water personalities are timid and shy. They may be nervous and tend to react based on their fear. One thing Dr. Abbott told me is that horses are not innately water personalities. These types of horses have been weeded out based on natural selection. Horses in the wild that have water personalities are pushed out of the herd and left to become wolf food.  Domestic horses that appear to be water personalities have learned this behavior and have possibly suffered some kind of abuse in their past.

When Dr. Abbott comes out to see your horse, she will ask specific questions to determine which personality your horse leans towards.

The Exam

After Dr. Abbott determines your horse’s personality type, she will assess your horse’s tongue.  Based on the color, texture, and moisture of your horses tongue she can determine whether your horse has a deficiency or stagnation (pain). She will then feel your horse’s pulses which will help her narrow down where the deficiency is coming from or where the stagnation may be coming from. Next comes the scan.  During the scan Dr. Abbott will assess each meridian or channel that the ancient Chinese have determined are present in your horse that allow energy to flow from head to toe and back. She will watch your horse carefully for signs that certain acupuncture points or entire channels are affected. She will score each reaction and only after she has performed a complete scan will all the pieces be put together and a diagnosis made. After a preliminary diagnosis, you will be asked if there is any else you wish to add, or anything missed during the exam.  This sounds exhausting to me; I am all for having an acupuncture exam and treatment performed on me, but there is no way you would ever see this cat spending that much time learning an entire new way of practicing veterinary medicine.


Now that we have a diagnosis, treatment can begin. Each horse gets their own individual treatment based on their signs and diagnosis on that day at that particular time. There are no cookie cutter treatments, everything is tailored specifically to your horse. Now, that sounds right up my alley, sign me up! Most of you know that acupuncture involves the placement of needles in specific spots on your horse. You may have even seen someone hook up wires and an electric box to the needles in your horse. However, there are several other ways in which acupuncture can be performed.  Dry needles are often used in fire personality horses, as electro-acupuncture can be too much stimulation for them. In these cases, dry needles do just as much if not more for fire horses. Moxibustion is another type of acupuncture where dried mugwort is burned over specific acupuncture points to encourage the movement of energy and relieve stagnation. Vitamin B12 can also be injected directly into acupuncture points causing a long-term stimulation of the point that will last days after treatment. Based on your horse’s personality and the diagnosis that Dr. Abbott has determined by her examination she will then determine and perform treatment that will best suit your horse on that day at that time.

After needling, it is likely that Dr. Abbott will also recommend starting your horse on a specific herb to help extend the effects of the initial treatment. Feeding herbs is like providing your horse with acupuncture every day! Ok, seriously, where are mine? I need to start experiencing these amazing treatments.


After your horse’s initial examination and treatment, Dr. Abbott will recommend follow up treatments. During these treatments she will perform the same examination done at the initial exam, she will determine where your horse has improved, where there have been changes and what needs to be addressed now. Usually, it takes 3-4 treatments 1-2 weeks apart to fully treat an ailment/problem. In other words, acupuncture requires commitment. I am always committed to bettering myself, and I volunteer as tribute for acupuncture treatments.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Reasons to Choose Acupuncture

So far, you are probably thinking this all sounds pretty neat, and you would be correct. But you’re probably also wondering what acupuncture can be used to treat. Well, it can be used to treat lameness, tendon and ligament problems, and respiratory issues such as heaves. Acupuncture can also be used to treat anhidrosis (non-sweating) and anxiety problems. It can also be used to stimulate appetite and suppress pain. You name it, there is definitely some part of acupuncture that can be performed to facilitate healing and a better life for your horse.

Who Should Perform Acupuncture

Unfortunately, anyone can learn to put needles into your horse, they do not even have to be a veterinarian. That just scares the bejeebies out of me! Can you imagine someone who doesn’t know anything about horse anatomy sticking needles all willy-nilly in your horse? There are some pretty important structures and blood vessels I would be nervous about them hitting, that’s for sure!

This cat thinks that a veterinarian who has been trained and certified in the art of Chinese Medicine should be the one to perform acupuncture on your horse.  Why, you ask? Well, because, if a proper diagnosis is not made and random needles are placed in your horses, energy can get moving all wonky directions, heat might be added when it needs to be taken away, and the next thing you know, you have a once-calm, easy going horse who has become a fire breathing dragon, and we all know that won’t end up well for anyone.  So, please chose carefully in who you allow to perform acupuncture on your horse.

If you want to schedule an appointment for your horse’s initial acupuncture treatment, call my minions today. Remember acupuncture can be done at any time, even during routine vaccine appointments, so call today so we can get your horse on the schedule and feeling their best.

Until next week,


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Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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