Tribute to Rio

A 30-year old QH gelding’s struggle with laminitis

Rio was a QH gelding who was diagnosed with laminitis 5 years ago. Rio’s owner, LeeAnn, was fortunate to have shared so many years with him before he died at age 30. Kris (Rio’s farrier) and I were fortunate to have known Rio and been able to help him a little bit towards the end of his life. When I met Rio, his foot disease had advanced past the point of return to normal function. LeeAnn contacted me to find out if acupuncture could help control his pain because the medication was not enough. At the first appointment Kris met me at the barn and she explained how she had been trimming him and we discussed the long term plan for his feet. Because of the pain, Rio had been having trouble holding his feet up for trimming. So after the physical exam I did a trigger point acupuncture treatment on Rio’s neck and shoulders to reduce some of the muscle tension. After this treatment he felt good enough to hold his feet up for Kris without complaint.

Rio received many acupuncture treatments, often weekly, over the course of 6 months. There was no way to reverse his laminitis but acupuncture was an important part of his pain control treatment plan that allowed him a good quality of life for his remaining 6 months. Rio’s foot pain was well controlled, but died suddenly from a cardiac condition.

Rio was a strong, gentle, wise and loving horse. He had been LeeAnn’s faithful companion for nearly 30 years. He displayed the same patient, stoic nature all his life even through bouts of severe pain. Those of us who love animals know we can love many over the course of our lifetime. But sometimes one gets into your heart like none other. Rio was one of those “once in a lifetime” horses.

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