Building Your Horse's Health Care Dream Team

It's important to understand what kind of help your veterinarian says your horse needs and why, verify the qualifications of potential care providers, and ask the right questions as you evaluate candidates for your horse’s health care dream team.

Photo: Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

How to find a qualified chiropractor, acupuncturist, dentist, or body worker to join your equine health care dream team

These days the veterinarian and farrier are no longer the only equine care contacts in your phone. There’s also the acupuncturist, chiropractor, massage therapist, dentist, physical -therapist—heck, you might even have the digits for a horse psychic! 

A range of equine practitioners and other professionals now play unique roles on your horse’s health care team. The team’s coach, of course, is your veterinarian. He or she helps identify the horse’s needs, designs an overall health plan, and helps you choose the right players for each position so all your bases are covered. 

Some equine veterinarians only serve the horse’s medical needs, while others fill multiple roles if they’ve trained to also practice chiropractic, acupuncture, dentistry, physical or massage therapy, or other types of body work. And the best veterinarians know when another equine practitioner or other professional is better suited to serve horses’ needs and will refer clients to those individuals. 

Sometimes veterinarians do the guiding toward additional horse health care professionals, other times you’re on your own. Therefore, it’s important to understand what kind of help your veterinarian says your horse needs and why, verify the qualifications of potential care providers, and ask the right questions as you evaluate candidates for your horse’s health care dream team. 

When it comes to veterinarians using complementary and alternative therapies, as well as those focusing their practice on specific areas such as dentistry, both of which have undergone extensive training in a specific area beyond their four-year veterinary degree, horse owners have many to choose from. 

Larkspur Carroll, DVM, owner of CORE Therapies, in Lexington, Kentucky, is a veterinarian who’s also a certified equine chiropractor through the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA) and a certified equine acupuncturist through the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, in Reddick, Florida. While Carroll has the veterinary knowledge to diagnose problems, she usually works with other treating veterinarians who refer clients her way for chiropractic and acupuncture services. 

Carroll says horse owners often request acupuncture or chiropractic based on their personal experience with one or the other, but she says the two also complement each other well. Sometimes individuals base their decisions on which modality the practitioners say can benefit their horses most, while staying within a budget.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? Check out the July 2017 issue of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care to continue reading this article and learn about professional qualifications, state requirements, and red flags to watch out for. Subscribe now and get an immediate download of this issue.

About the Author

Sarah Evers Conrad

Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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