Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Master Program of the Chi Institute
in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
DETERMINING THE EFFECT OF LASER ACUPUNCTURE ON THE HEART RATE OF ACUTE-STRESSED HORSES
WENDY YING, DVM, TCVMP, CCRT
Sam Wu, PhD
Huisheng Xie, DVM, PhD
Aituan Ma, MS, PhD
Anxiety in horses affects performance, health and value of sport horses and the reputation of trainers and competitors. Current treatments include behavior modification with pharmaceuticals, acupuncture, herbal supplements, mineral supplements and food therapy. We propose laser acupuncture, given before stressful situations can decrease anxiety and improve performance and health in horses.
A 2 day cross over study was performed on 24 horses who were either assigned to the treatment or control group on Day 1. Treatment horses were given laser acupuncture to reduce anxiety. Control horses were given sham treatment with the laser in the off position. All horses were fitted with a heart rate monitor and then exposed to an acute startle test (AST). Heart rate was monitored 1 minute pre and 10 minutes post AST. Peak HR and return to Baseline HR was noted. All horses were allowed a wash out period of 7 days and then assigned to the other group and results from both days were compared.
22 geldings and 2 mares ranging in age from 6 yrs to 29 yr were used. Breeds included Arabians, Quarter Horses, Warmbloods, Tennessee Walking Horses and grade horses. Disciplines included Jumpers, Hunters, Dressage, Driving, Fox hunting and Trail. Our data shows in some cases, laser acupuncture did reduce peak heart rate and decreased the time to return to baseline.
Further research needs to be done with a larger group of subjects. Modifying the acute startle test depending on the level of anxiety of the breed/discipline may give more meaningful results. Quarter Horses, trail and driving horses showed a very low level of startle (ie lower peak heart rate) compared to dressage horses and jumpers probably due to their exposure to loud noises in their daily activity. This model may be used to test the effectiveness of other kinds of acupuncture treatments, herbal therapies, pharmaceuticals and supplements claiming to be effective in controlling anxiety in horses and other animals.