Veterinarian Sticks 2-Inch-Long Needles in Show Horse for Acupuncture Treatments

Each needle targets a certain organ or region of the horse's body.

Sticking a horse with dozens of needles at a time may sound like a bad idea, but it's for the animal’s own good.

Dr. Anne Bukenhofer of Rising Star Equine Center in Old Bethpage, New York, is a veterinarian who performs acupuncture on injured show horses.

Using 2-inch long needles inserted carefully into the equine’s pressure points, Bukenhofer is able to tackle specific regions or internal organs of the horse’s body. Needle stimulation also helps release endorphins and eases chronic pain in the patient.

“You can get pain control, you can get stress relief," Bukenhofer told CBS News as she treated an older show horse named Tony. "You can help the horse feel a lot better."

Tony is 21 years old, or about 63 in human years, and has incurred multiple injuries over the years as well as arthritis.

“There were patients that I knew I wasn’t getting to the root of the pain with traditional medicine and being able to offer this modality has meant that I’ve been able to help horses I wouldn’t have been able to help before," said veterinarian Dr. Kara Spillman.

Other treatments show horses can undergo include electromagnetic field therapy, where a therapist can hold tubes delivering low-level electromagnetic radiation against a horse’s body.

"It supplies oxygen to the blood cells and it releases the toxins," said pulsed electromagnetic field therapist Christine Nelson.

Or, common among human athletes, a show horse can opt to undergo massage therapy and chiropractic treatments to reset the horse’s nervous system.