The Use and Perceptions of Alternative Therapies in the Horse Industry

No Thumbnail Available
Holtz, Sara
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
Horse owners use and interest in alternative therapies appears to be growing. It is imperative then to understand what drives perception and use of chiropractic, acupuncture, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF), and massage therapy on horses. This study explored horse owner use and perceptions of these alternative therapies. We hypothesized that participant-reported use of these therapies would differ by rider discipline, age, education, and frequency of competition. An online survey was distributed via social media and included demographics and questions to determine respondents’ use and perceptions of these alternative therapies. Of 702 respondents, 661 met the criteria of inclusion of having owned or cared for horses. Overall, 86% of respondents had used a form of alternative therapy on a horse they owned or cared for. Further, respondent age, frequency of competition, and discipline influenced use in chiropractic and acupuncture, but only age and frequency of competition influenced PEMF use. Ninety-nine percent of respondents agreed that massage was safe to use on their horse, while only 91% felt similarly about PEMF. When asked if the effectiveness of each therapy was well researched, only 63% agreed for PEMF, while 85% agreed that chiropractic was. This study indicates that owners feel that these therapies are beneficial to their horses, and perceive they are generally safe or effective despite little scientific evidence.
Acupuncture, Alternative therapy, Chiropractic, Horse, Massage, PEMF, Animal sciences