The “horse capital of the world” is becoming more horse-friendly on Sept. 4 with the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine opening a new acupuncture center for horses in the Ocala/Marion County area, according to a press release from the school.

The UF Equine Acupuncture Center will serve all types of horses, not limited to the Kentucky Derby winners that the area is home to. The center includes a 6,240-square-foot barn with 12 stalls and a treatment area, and a 12,500-square-foot arena. The clinic is funded through the UF Health and the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The center will function as a clinic through which Huisheng Xie, a clinical professor in the integrative medicine service at the UF Veterinary Hospitals, will provide acupuncture therapy to aid in the treatment of a variety of conditions affecting horses. Xie has decades of acupuncture experience, having founded The Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in 1998.

“Acupuncture has been practiced in both animals and humans for thousands of years in China,” Xie says. “The benefits of acupuncture have been documented in an increasing number of clinical trials, and, as a result, we have a better understanding of acupuncture’s method of action. Our patients can benefit greatly from these new developments.”

Acupuncture involves stimulating points on the body to create a soothing effect. 

These points are referred to as Shu-xu, or acupuncture points, Xie says. According to the University of Florida Health, studies show acupuncture could be effective in treating various ailments, such as musculoskeletal conditions, lameness, neurological disorders, reproductive, respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders, dermatological issues and even behavioral problems. Xie has performed acupuncture on occasion, but with this new clinic, it will be offered regularly Monday through Wednesday.