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To learn more about Yūgen Equine and Keely's animal acupuncture offerings, click here.

A Brief & Important History of Animal Acupuncture

Acupuncture for treating large animals began nearly 3000 years ago in the Zhou dynasty, Records indicate that acupuncture continued to be used on horses until the 10th century, A.D. The focus of its use was on horses because they were so essential to the military. After the 10th century acupuncture is not mentioned in any of the major surviving texts. It is also important to note that there never were any charts, texts, or references regarding the treatment of dogs or cats with acupuncture.








Ancient Equine Acupunture Chart.

The origins of animal acupuncture were nearly 3000 years ago, but the beginnings of western veterinary medicine were just over 400 years ago. We know that most of this work in China ended around the 10th Century A.D., and that animal acupuncture was not explored again in China until 1976, 4 years after the re- introduction of animal acupuncture that took place in the United States. The re-emergence of animal acupuncture did not occur in Asia but in the United States, and it was acupuncturists, not veterinarians, who introduced animal acupuncture into the U.S., thereby re- introducing it to the world.

It was not until 1972, when Dr. Gene Bruno and others brought the modality to the United States. Dr. Bruno was approved by the Veterinary Board to treat small animals and horses. He later worked to create the National Acupuncture Veterinary Association (NAVA) which was for Veterinarians who wanted to practice Animal Acupuncture. The members of NAVA later joined the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) when it was formed.

Brown horses shoulder with two acupuncture needles in it on a sunny day

"The successful treatment of horses and small animals for conditions that veterinary medicine could either not treat, or had poor results treating, led to the introduction of Animal Acupuncture in the United States, and later to the rest of the world."

From 1972 until 1976, Ottaviano and Bruno treated hundreds of horses and thousands of small animals. In 1973, they created the first modern acupuncture chart of an animal, the horse, where they used a numbering system to identify points. One of their goals at the time was to teach a core group of veterinarians the principals of Chinese medicine and acupuncture. At the time, there was no licensing for acupuncturists anywhere in the U.S. There were several veterinarians who were serious, and after working with us for a few years, began to treat animals with acupuncture on their own. In the summer of 1973, they created the National Association of Veterinary Acupuncture (NAVA). The goal of NAVA was to have, within a few years, veterinary teaching staff to train other interested veterinarians. In 1974/75, with the help from NAA’s Research Team and work by other veterinarians who were exploring acupuncture for animals, the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) was formed. These veterinarians referred to the system of points and treatment protocols that John Ottaviano and Gene Bruno developed as Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). 

The first complete course in animal acupuncture for licensed acupuncturists was

developed and taught by acupuncturist Noreen Javornik, LAc, and her associates

at Tai Sophia Institute in the late 1990’s. Currently, the only complete program is

taught at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture in Arizona.

In 1973, Gene Bruno, OMD, LAc, and Joel Rossen, DVM, established the American

Board of Animal Acupuncture (ABAA). It is the only certification body for licensed

acupuncturists practicing animal acupuncture. 

Small dog lying down with acupuncture needles along the spine

What Equine Acupuncture Can Treat and Manage

  • Laminitis

  • Colic

  • Cushing's

  • Tendonitis - Bowed Tendon, Suspensory problems

  • Metabolic Syndrome / Insulin Resistance

  • EPM

  • PTSD

  • Neck, Jaw, Back, Leg pain.

  • Arthritis

What Canine Acupuncture Can Treat and Manage

  • Arthritis

  • Hip Dysplasia

  • Cushing's &Addison's 

  • Pain & Inflammation

  • Dermatitis and lick granulomas

  • Certain neurological conditions and paralysis

  • Nerve injuries

  • Respiratory problems

  • Gastrointestinal issues


Keely has been around animals, specifically horses, her entire life. When she was 11 years old, she was introduced to Pony Club and the world of 3-day eventing. With dressage work being the foundation of it all, having a relaxed horse that can carry itself is extremely important. Keely was a working student and didn’t always get placed on the best horse in the barn. She would frequently ride the ones who needed the most work; the stiff ones with the cold back who were cranky and would buck. It didn’t take long to realize how important it was to treat horses like the athletes that they are. They need to be stretched and strengthened just the same. Keely learned how to watch the horses and assess weaknesses in their bodies and what exercises to apply to strengthen the areas. She learned how to feel when a horse is tight and how to get the best release. 

Although she has worked on horses in some capacity since her early teens, she received certification in Equine Sports Massage in 2016. Like people, Keely specialized in pain management for horses, utilizing techniques like myofascial release and Masterson Method. 

Keely knew in high school that she wanted to be an acupuncturist. A project she did her senior year, 2004, she stated explicitly that she wanted to be an equine acupuncturist. She was reminded of this dream in 2014 and decided to make it a reality. After completing her Doctorate in 2023, she immediately rolled into Animal Acupuncture training with a focus in Equine Acupuncture.  

Keely had the privilege of training directly under Dr. Gene Bruno along with several other remarkable teachers in Phoenix AZ and is now a Fellow of the American Board of Animal Acupuncture with the ABAA. 

KeelyTaylor, young and smiling woman, on a white horse with blue ribbon
Keely Taylor, woman jumping brown horse over wood fence in a field.
Keely Taylor, woman jumping brown and white horse over wood fence in feild.
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