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Holistic Horse Issue 111

The holistic horse world has lost one of the giants of its community recently with the passing of the “father of equine acupuncture,” Dr. Marvin Cain, of Versailles, Ohio.

Receiving the Carvel Tiekert Lifetime Achievement Award by AHVMA in 2016 was just a drop in the bucket next to the contributions Dr. Cain made to the veterinary profession for horses. A lifelong horsemen who always put the “horse first,” he will be remembered for his immense contributions to horses.

Dr. Cain pioneered the diagnosis and treatment of horses using acupuncture, including research with the University of Vienna, Austria, to demonstrate to the academic community that acupunctural diagnosis was far superior to existing methods. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Ohio State University in 1955, but continued to search for the best possible therapies to help horses.

Dr. Cain studied with Master Dr. E.C. Wong, with the Chinese Academy of Acupuncture, with whom, in 1973, he received his International Certification in acupuncture. He worked with its Masters in Korea and Japan, including Dr. Manaka, Dr. Nakatani, Dr. Yamada (then Dean of the Waseda College of Acupuncture in Tokyo), Dr. Okada, Dr. Namikoshi (Dean of the Nippon Shiatsu School in Tokyo) and in1975 co-founded the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS). In 1996, Dr Cain and his wife Meike Maefakit published “Acupuncture Diagnosis and Treatment of the Equine.”

Treating many four-legged clients, Dr. Cain (who once owned a stable of 30 Thoroughbreds) treated some of racing’s greatest, including Unbridled, Risenstar, Dynaformer, Najran, Lifes Magic and Lady Secret. He always put horses first, but he also loved to teach and pass on his wisdom to others. Here is what some others had to say:


“Marvin Cain, was my first and greatest teacher of equine acupuncture. He opened my mind that there was so much more to healing horses than I had ever learned in veterinary school. He showed me a unique way of being with horses that I have integrated into my veterinary practice for almost 40 years. He was a true pioneer in holistic equine medicine. I am forever grateful to him so kindly sharing his wisdom and insights with so many. He lives on in each of us and all the horses we have been able to help.
—Allen M. Schoen, DVM, MS, PhD, (hon.) Co-author of The Compassionate Equestrian, 25 Principles to Help Us Care
for and Work With Horses


“Dr. Marvin Cain. Where to begin? There will never be a human being to compare. His compassion and drive to make horses as comfortable as they could possibly be was amazing. He loved to teach and to share. Second only to his compassion for the animals and athletes.

A horse holder started to put a lip chain on a horse that Doc was going to evaluate, Doc’s response, ‘Young man, how is this horse supposed to talk to me with that hardware on his face?’ ‘A snap underneath will be sufficient.’ I held a filly for Doc at Churchill many years ago. She had herpes, EPM, and a hormone imbalance. She threw us all over the stall as he was treating her. ‘It’s not her fault Di’, he says to me. When I thought about it, he was right, it rarely is the horse’s fault, most issues they have are manmade. Such compassion and understanding.

Dr Cain diagnosed diseases like herpes, Lyme disease, and EPM long before anyone had a clue. Doc used to often say that he learned from the horses every day of his life. He was recognizing new syndromes until he was no longer strong enough to be with the horses.

I think Doc is free now to be with the horses 24/7, which is all he ever wanted.

I know he is up there enjoying all the horses he has helped his whole life, surrounded by them and their gratitude!

Thanks for all you gave me Doc.” —G Dianne Volz, Equine Therapy 502 .

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