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Ranch Call | Keeping Horses Healthy

Integrative Medicine

By Terri Van Wambeke

the utilization of both western medicine and the older, more traditional modalities, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, to provide a whole body approach to health. This type of practice relies on the availability of specialists working together as a care group to help a patient regain or maintain optimum health. It is not the exclusion of modern medicines and surgery, but the ability to utilize those tools along with the older traditional medicine practices.


The care group may consist of a medical specialist for the particular problem, the primary care physician, an acupuncturist/ herbalist/Doctor of Oriental Medicine, a western herbalist, a nutritionist, psychologist, along with medias for stress control through


n human medicine, the term, “integrative medicine,” is being utilized more and more often. Integrative medicine refers to

dance, yoga, meditation or art. The premise of this type of care is to place the patient back into the process of assisting and controlling his or her quality of life and helping to change underlying issues that are contributing to the person’s poor health. The goal is to treat the person and body as a whole.

Integrative medicine for horses The veterinary profession is beginning to catch on to the benefits of integrative medicine. I routinely use integrative medicine to obtain better conception rates in mares that are difficult to get in foal. I work with the primary care veterinarian, may call in a nutritionist, farrier, a boarded equine surgeon or medicine specialist. As a group, we address issues affecting the entire health of the animal, including determining where there are unnecessary stressors and minimizing those. We use therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic and herbal medicine that have good quality evidence to support their use.

We, as horse owners and veterinarians, still have it within our power to choose the quality of the health care that we provide for our pets. We are not burdened with the ever- increasing and limiting demands placed on the human health care system through insurance companies and budgets. So get out there, do some research, speak with some veterinarians providing integrative services—you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find!

The National Institutes for Health maintains a good website on integrative practices for humans called National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; check it out at As yet, there isn’t a website for horses.

Rattlesnake Vaccine

Red Rock Biologics has had a vaccine available that protects dogs against rattlesnake envenomation. Now Red Rock Biologics has developed a rattle- snake vaccine especially for horses.

When a rattler bites its victim, it releases toxins locally at the bite site that cause serious pain and tissue damage. The effects can be limited to the site of the bite, or they can cause widespread reac- tion by the body, similar to an anaphy- lactic reaction from a vaccine or other allergen. Most horses need to be treated with IV fluids, antivenom, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications. The wound can become so serious that surgery is required to facilitate healing; otherwise, the horse could have perma- nent damage.

Red Rock vaccine for horses is designed to stimulate the horse’s immunity to defend against the rattlesnake toxins and dampen the initial reaction. This allows the horse owner more time to obtain veterinary care. Rattlesnake bites are still an emergency, even in vaccinated animals, and veterinary care should be sought as soon as possible.

The rattlesnake vaccine is given initially in three doses, spaced one month apart. Then it’s boostered every six months to maintain immunity. Call your vet to find out if this vaccine is right for your horse. Also visit

About the author Terri Van Wambeke, DVM, CVA, CVSMT, is a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and Certified Veterinary Chiropractor. Her vet practice ranges from Galt to Chico and is limited to holistic medicine and equine reproduction. Visit

Reviewed by Cheryl Caldwell

Horse at the Corner Post A book by Denise Lee Branco

This is a touching story by Denise Lee Branco, who tells the story of her horse Freedom Sky that she named in honor of our nation’s bicentennial. At the time of Freedom Sky’s birth in 1976, Denise had no way of knowing what a huge impact this fearless colt would eventually have on the rest of her life. Readers will follow along with each honest chapter, written in diary style, and experience the close bond and spiritual connection that develops between Denise and Freedom Sky during the next three decades of their lives. This is an uplifting and real-life account of unconditional love.

14 November-December 2011 | Honest Horses Magazine

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