Growing up on a small horse farm in central NJ, I was blessed to have all manner of creatures in my life. Probably to my parents’ chagrin, I also had a never-ending passion for helping animals. This translated into having injured ducks rehabbing in my bathtub, the occasional loose box turtles or snake in the house and any number
of injured or orphaned wildlife in and around the house. All of this on top
of the horses, dogs, cats and other creatures we had living on the farm.
I was the child who was unwaveringly destined for veterinary school…
In pursuit of this dream I attended the University of Delaware for an undergraduate Bachelors of
Science degree after which I worked at the Philadelphia Zoo as part of their Zoo on Wheels program.
(I was that person who brought zoo animals to your elementary school for big school assemblies). At the
same time, I worked at Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center as a veterinary technician. These pursuits
furthered my passion for veterinary medicine and I went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 2013. Immediately following graduation I underwent a one
year intensive internship in equine medicine, surgery and ambulatory medicine at the University of Missouri.
Ultimately, my husband and I decided to return to the east coast to be closer to our families and I accepted a position at Upstate Equine Medical Center where I was a veterinary associate for 6 years. I LOVED what I did but I started to feel as though there was still something more I could be doing for my patients…. There was this feeling that my traditional veterinary training was somehow not getting the entire picture…
To understand what it is I do and why, we have to nerd out a bit together… The body is an incredible system designed to maintain a delicate and intricate balance. Every single cell must send and receive information to and from the brain. This includes information regarding that cell itself and how things are working; information about the neighboring cells including how well they are all getting along; and finally information about the environment in which those cells are existing, (basically, is the neighborhood good with clean streets and happy neighbors or is there garbage overflowing and racoons running rampant?!). The information from the obviously important cells such as organs (heart, lungs, etc), all the way to the seemingly insignificant hair cells must all go to the brain. Here the information then has to be carefully interpreted and integrated as a whole so that the brain can then send signals back to each of these cells dictating how to carry out their functions next. And this ALL must happen in a fraction of a second ALL day and ALL night long so that we may respond to the environment in which we exist. Your goosebumps when you are cold are a symphony of cells performing an important task all together thanks to your central nervous system’s line of communication. These signals are all carried through the branching system of small nerve cells (yes more cells, and these REALLY need to be happy and healthy in order to perform their job). These innumerable branches all must eventually merge onto the “super highway” of the spinal cord up to the main organizing center, the brain. You can imagine now why minor deviations from normal can set the entire system out of balance. It makes sense that in order for our animals to be happy and healthy that we need to take extra care of this incredible system as a whole health approach.
So this bring us to how I became involved in what people tend to refer to as "alternative medicine". During veterinary school I had followed a veterinarian around for a few weeks who did primarily acupuncture and chiropractic medicine. I was skeptical at first, to say the least. These therapies had been touched on in vet school but they certainly weren't a highlighted method of treatment. However, over the course of the two weeks I spent with that veterinarian I had seen amazing results that I couldn’t explain. It had always stuck with me, and when later in life I had cases I couldn't explain or fix traditionally, I found myself thinking back on that time. I needed to know more…
I first enrolled in a Medical Acupuncture for veterinarians course in Colorado in 2016, where I learned about how to further understand and thus aid the central nervous system in healing itself using this unique modality. The nervous system, while incredibly complex, is like any other system; It is only able to handle and interpret so many signals at once. For instance, picture when you accidentally slam your hand in the car door. The first thing most people do is try and “shake off” the pain and then quickly go to run your hand under cold water. And this works for a period of time because what we are actually doing is sending a flood of different signals to the brain about our hand’s location in time and space as we shake it, and about the temperature change in its environment as its being cooled by the running water. The cells in our hand that first were sending information about the pain from the car door are now asked to send a new signal and thus they "forget" about the initial pain for a moment. We all know this doesn’t last and our hand is sore for a few days but that is from the injured cells continuing to send status reports of their plight as they heal, but that is a whole other story on its own. The point is, acupuncture acts much the same way as the cold running water in our scenario. It can act to "re-set" the nerve's firing patterns so as to change a pain signal to the brain, or a muscle tension signal from the brain to the muscle itself, into something else. This can help that nerve return to its normal firing pattern. Through targeted acupuncture sites we can affect the muscles, skin cells and even the way certain organs function.
This entire system however can only function if the nerves themselves are able to send and receive signals appropriately. As discussed earlier, every single nerve must be able to communicate with the brain and it needs to be able to do so in a fraction of a second. The spinal cord which acts as a super highway to the brain is well protected by the spinal column of bones and there are “on ramps” so to speak, where nerves converge to enter it between each spinal segment. Now let’s imagine that one of these bones has lost its proper alignment with one of the bones in front or behind it. This is known as a Subluxation. If this happens it can narrow that on ramp and hinder the signals being sent… much like a traffic jam when 2 lanes have been reduced to one. We can all relate to the pain and frustration associated with this. Chiropractic adjustments can re-open those lanes and allow normal function and flow to resume. To this end, I enrolled in the ACES program in Texas in 2018, where I developed the skills to detect and correct subluxations within the animal body in order to restore the body’s innate system to it’s proper balance and function. Following the completion of this course I went on to become nationally accredited by the AVCA in animal chiropractic techniques.
There are an exciting number of ways chiropractic and acupuncture can be used to help your horse. These exciting techniques can be used to improve nerve and muscle function, aid in restoring joint range of motion throughout the entire skeleton, alter the body's immune response, and improve fertility, just to name a few...
Your horse's body is truly a beautiful and complex system. My goal and passion is to help your horse live its best life. To learn more about how chiropractic and acupuncture can help you and your horse call for a free consultation.