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Episode #29: Lasers for Horses And Their Riders With Dr. Pat Bona

laser light show

Dr. Chad Woolner: What’s going on, everybody? Dr. Chad Woolner here with Dr. Andrew Wells. And on this episode of The Laser Light Show, we’re going to be talking to our good friend Dr. Patricia Bona and we’re going to be talking about her experiences working with both people and with animals in the chiropractic setting. So let’s get to it. 



Dr. Andrew Wells

Dr. Chad Woolner

Dr. Patricia Bona


Dr. Chad Woolner: Growing up in Portland, Oregon, I used to love going to laser light shows at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. They would put on these amazing light shows with incredible designs synced up to some of my favorite music. From the Beatles to Pink Floyd to Jimi Hendrix and Metallica; they were awesome. Little did I know then that lasers would have such a profound effect on my life decades later. As a chiropractic physician, I have seen first-hand just how powerful laser therapy is in helping patients struggling with a wide range of health problems. As the leader in laser therapy, Erchonia has pioneered the field in obtaining 20 of the 23 total FDA clearances for therapeutic application of lasers. On this podcast, we’ll explore the science and technology and physiology behind what makes these tools so powerful. Join me as we explore low level laser therapy. I’m Dr. Chad Woolner along with my good friend Dr. Andrew Wells and welcome to The Laser Light Show. 


Explore the transformative benefits of Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) for athletes in our blog, How Laser Therapy Helps Athletes Physically and Mentally. Learn how LLLT can accelerate recovery, reduce pain, and enhance mental clarity. Dive into the world of laser therapy now!


Dr. Chad Woolner: All right, welcome to the show, everybody. And Dr. Pat, thanks for being here with us. Welcome to the show, So you are from Pennsylvania. Correct.


Dr. Patricia Bona: I am originally from New Jersey.


Dr. Chad Woolner: New Jersey. Okay. And now you also have a place down in Ocala, is that what it’s called? Ocala, which I just learned is the horse capital of the United States, or rather, of the world. This is something new to me.


Dr. Andrew Wells: It’s not Kentucky. Oh, well.


Dr. Chad Woolner: You might think, “Yeah, I would imagine that if someone asked me, that’s exactly how it would be.”


Dr. Andrew Wells: Lexington or Yeah, I knew Ocala was a big horse place. But yeah,


Dr. Patricia Bona: I think more so because there’s such a variety of horse breeds in Ocala. We’re in Kentucky. It’s predominantly Thoroughbreds. Oh, well, that makes sense. So I think that’s why they don’t give it that title. Nice.


Dr. Andrew Wells: And so, it makes sense that you’d be there because you are a chiropractor, and you work with both human beings and animals as well.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Yes, I’ve had a pretty lovely practice since 1992, when I was certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. So for a long time, I did primarily horses, but I’ve more recently, in the past five years or so, started to work with more dogs as well. And cats and other sundry animals.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Do you see a signal? I’m asking out of pure curiosity and perhaps ignorance. Is there a significant difference between the horse breeds you work with, or is it just a case of “a horse is a horse is a horse”?


Dr. Patricia Bona: No, there are significant differences in their personality, their conformation, their constitutional makeup, and what they’re being asked to do. So, there’s a huge difference from that perspective, but they are just wonderful, giving animals. The fact that you can put a horse in a horse trailer and then take them out, and they’ll get back on the horse trailer as long as you didn’t have a horrible drive, is a testament to how human-oriented they can be, showing a desire to have a partnership.


Dr. Andrew Wells: Yeah, never thought of it. That’s really interesting. Like, what other animal can do that too? Maybe like an ox? Probably. Well, you wouldn’t go riding an ox.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Actually, I have a dear friend in Montana who has a horse she broke. Wow, yeah, wow. The horse participates in parades and everything. Why can’t she take lessons for flying lead changes?


Dr. Chad Woolner: Yes, That’s amazing.


Dr. Andrew Wells: She must be a pretty incredible woman then to do that. 


Dr. Patricia Bona: That’s incredible. Actually in Wyoming, not Montana. Yeah,


Dr. Chad Woolner: Wow. Pretty crazy. That’s amazing.


Dr. Andrew Wells: So, Did you start working with animals at the beginning of your career, or is that something you kind of transitioned into?


Dr. Patricia Bona: It came in pretty quickly. I wanted to focus on riders and having riders see themselves as athletes, which was back in 1987. I tried to promote this by writing an article and offering it to a couple of the larger magazines, EQUUS and Practical Horseman. They wrote me back, saying they don’t discuss topics like that. So, I was a bit ahead of my time. Consequently, I was lecturing and conducting various small clinics locally. Then, I believed my horse needed chiropractic care and began exploring that avenue. I met Dr. Judith Shoemaker, who is one of the very big names and an incredible mentor. At the same time, I worked with Dave Duquette, a world-renowned farrier, who looked into chiropractic care for horses. Then, I asked David to examine my horse, and he noted that the pelvis was uneven, and the feet were incorrect. Initially, I met Dave when I was leasing a horse, and he was the one who first taught me to evaluate a horse’s posture mechanically, which is essentially physics. The cannon bones, akin to our shin bones, need to be vertical, just like the uprights of a building. Evaluating posture in horses, however, differs significantly because, unlike humans, where a frontal view can reveal posture, with horses (and even dogs), you must assess from both the right and left sides for symmetry. It’s fascinating. When Dave came to help with my horse’s feet, after riding my horse at his recommendation, he removed the shoes, trimmed the feet, reshaped them, and asked me to ride again. The difference was profound. As a chiropractor, riding my horse always resulted in my back going out, requiring adjustments each time. It turned out that the imbalance in my horse’s feet was causing issues for both of us, leading to a significant revelation. This was incredibly inspiring. I often tell people how much I can relate to various physical issues, whether it’s neck, back, or unusual injuries, or dealing with animals that have problems. It’s a wonderful education to have in a profession full of diverse techniques and options. The laser has been the most profound tool in my practice, benefiting horses, dogs, and humans alike. I am very blessed and never leave home without it.


Dr. Chad Woolner: What percentage of your time spent in the clinic is with humans versus animals?


Dr. Patricia Bona: It’s about 50-50. Okay, take out the travel, it’s probably, I should say, actually say, probably 60-40, more weighted towards the animals, But now I’m doing a little bit more adjusting on the road, part of me with the humans, the riders, because that’s what I want to do, work with that partnership.


Dr. Chad Woolner: I arrived early for practice, and we went to a horse show to set up a booth as part of our practice. This was specifically because we were conducting screenings there. We had a patient who was very active in the horse community, and she suggested we set up a booth there since many riders were dealing with injuries. So, we agreed, and that decision was quite enlightening for me early on. It made complete sense—the connection or correlation seemed obvious. However, your point is intriguing. I might not have made the connection as you did. I would have assumed it’s inevitable to experience issues with your hips and pelvis from riding a horse. To some extent, it is inevitable. But, the significant improvement for the rider, when the horse is properly aligned or when their hooves are correctly shod, is remarkable, as you’ve noted.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Yeah, so the feet are the foundation of their support, the base of their support. They’re kind of like having your pistons well-balanced. If those four pistons aren’t well balanced, the rest of the system is going to be off, and then you’re going to have compensations, wear and tear, and misalignments. But the interesting thing is riders will pay for chiropractic care, laser treatments, acupuncture, and very expensive equipment for their horses, but they almost always neglect themselves, right? It’s about really putting it back there and saying, ‘You’re doing all this, and this is the variable, and you deserve to have your body in alignment and well-tuned as an athlete.’ That was the problem when I wanted to approach the Akwesasne practical horsemen; they weren’t looking at it as a partnership, and the riders were athletes. They need to cross-train, watch their posture, eat well, and understand that mental and physical fitness is for everything.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah. So tell us maybe a little bit more about how you’re using lasers with horses and other animals as well.


Dr. Patricia Bona: I will work with pretty much anybody unless they’re pregnant, or there’s a contraindication for using the laser. I use it to tone the spine and then apply it more specifically to different areas where I want to perform myofascial release on a horse or address joint inflammation. It’s very specific; there are different frequencies we can use. When it comes to whether horses or people can feel it, most can’t feel the class II cold laser on their arm. Sometimes, it feels almost like a breeze gliding across your skin. However, our awareness as humans is much less than that of horses and dogs. Horses, in particular, respond very quickly. I can tell when the frequencies I choose are effective because usually within about two minutes, the horse might lick and chew, drop its head, take a big breath, and relax. They respond very physically, akin to how we feel when, during winter, there’s a nice warm, sunny day, and you can wear short sleeves and bask in the sun, thinking, “Ah, this feels so good.” Animals feel and respond to it very quickly, which is fascinating to witness. It’s remarkable to see how subtle their responses are something people don’t often understand. What’s great, though, is when patients or riders come in and get adjusted, and they see the effectiveness of muscle balancing and laser treatment, they can appreciate even more why horses or dogs respond so well to it.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah. When you use the laser on the horses, are you using a veterinary laser or a human laser? Which one is it? Do you notice a difference?


Dr. Patricia Bona: Well, no, I think it’s a matter of the lasers, the laser; it’s just how it’s, you would say, labeled.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Sure.


Dr. Patricia Bona: I have the human laser that I use on animals. Okay. You know, so? Yes.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Awesome. So, when you adjust horses, is there an instrument that you use? Or is it manual, both, or across the board?


Dr. Patricia Bona: Because there are so many different chiropractic techniques available, I focus a lot on manual adjustments. However, I also emphasize preparation, as it’s important for the body to be ready. Whether it’s working on a human and performing trigger point therapy, muscle balancing, applied kinesiology, or using a laser to prepare the body for an adjustment, the approach is similar to horses. For them, probably 80 or 90% of the adjustment time involves doing soft tissue work and balancing, since soft tissue work directly influences the nervous system.


Dr. Chad Woolner: For those who are listening, maybe take us through what that would look like. In terms of what an assessment would look like, I’m always fascinated whenever I talk to people who work with animals. When you talk with humans, humans can communicate verbally and tell you, “This is where it’s hurting for me,” or whatever, and fill you in. With animals, I would have to imagine there’s still a certain level of communication that takes place, but I’m assuming it’s more of an intuitive type of communication. So, maybe walk us through what you do, how you assess a horse, particularly. We’ll say, and then what the adjusting process would look like. I’m fascinated. I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen a horse get adjusted before, I don’t think I have.


Dr. Patricia Bona: So, my initial intake involves taking a history to find out what the owner’s concern is, whether it’s performance-related or something else, and getting the appropriate information from a veterinary perspective. It’s similar to dealing with people: very simple. We have body language. Even though I’m off camera, sitting here confidently, it comes through in my voice, right? You’re relaxed, and that comes through in your voice too. But when you look at a person, you observe body language; you can walk up to a friend and know they’re very happy, or you can see them from across the hall and think, “Wow, there’s a problem, I better go check on them.” So, with animals, particularly horses, posture is their language. Horses engage in a lot of posturing, similar to how a dog might raise its fur or put its ears back. Horses have very significant body language and spatial relationships.

Fortunately, I have a very lovely, long-term clientele, some relationships lasting 15-20 years. Many of them understand and appreciate having their horses evaluated monthly, recognizing it as a worthwhile investment of time and resources. Horses are very smart and as intelligent as dogs, I would say. It’s just that we don’t take them home with us; we can’t spend as much time with them, but they are very communicative and intelligent. It’s a beautiful bond that horses and humans share.

When examining a horse, especially a new one, I look at their posture and body language first. Are they standing with all four cannon bones vertical? Then, I walk around and observe the body and posture. My background in 4-H, where we did confirmation and judging contests, has been invaluable. As a fourth and fifth-grader, I learned to assess horses, placing them in order of their conformation, and then defending those placements behind closed doors. Although it might not be the best confirmation, it’s about justifying your placements.

However, we often misinterpret terms related to a horse’s structure, saying a horse has “mutton withers” or is “croup high,” which are terms that refer more to posture than conformation. I like to clarify this because a horse’s conformation is more about their bony anatomy, similar to humans. You can be fit or less fit and have good or poor posture. Many people come to me thinking they’ve shrunk, but often it’s just poor posture. With horses, it’s the same. Ensuring a horse is comfortable in its skin is crucial, as this can be discerned by their stance and reaction to their environment.

The skin, being the largest organ, plays a significant role in my evaluations. I look at the symmetry of their shoulders and hips, and the angle of their pelvis, as there’s often a “prettier” side which correlates to performance or injury issues. The impact of gravity on these asymmetries is profound. I also pay close attention to the skin, especially in regard to scar tissue, since horses, like humans, can accumulate scars that affect their internal structures.

I consider myself an artist working with a living medium, able to effect significant changes. Despite taking before and after photos being time-consuming, it’s a profoundly rewarding part of my work. As I’ve expanded my practice to include dogs, I’ve found that you can learn to read them just as well, although horses, with their size and expressiveness, provide unique insights.

In treating horses, I often start with their posture and symmetry, then move on to addressing issues like scar tissue. Educating owners on what to look for and how to maintain their animals’ health is a significant part of my practice. This extends to checking the legs and feet, as discomfort in these areas can affect overall posture. I employ various techniques, adjusting from both above and below to address soft tissue and skeletal issues alike.

Being fit and aware of one’s surroundings is essential, especially in a busy barn environment where a horse might react unpredictably. It’s like being a martial artist, constantly attuned to the interplay between horses, people, and the environment.


Dr. Chad Woolner: You know, I couldn’t help but think as you were talking about this, do you get a fairly decent gauge or read from the horse as to what their owner is like? And the thing I was going to say is, almost immediately, you know where I’m going with this, right? But I would imagine that most people willing to make that kind of investment in their horse probably take good care of their horses is my guess. But again, I’m curious if that comes out in the assessment, like if you don’t have a very good owner, or this owner doesn’t treat you very well, just based on that read or something like that. Does that happen? Has that happened?


Dr. Patricia Bona: Well, not from the perspective that they’re not being treated well. If someone has called me and they’re treating me well, it’s a matter of personal dynamics and education. Yeah, you can see that this horse could be a little bossy, and the owner is a bit intimidated.


Dr. Chad Woolner: The dynamics.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Dynamics of personalities, just like you, mean that no one’s going to be the alpha. And you’ll have a child respond and react differently with a father versus a mother, or, you know, a sibling, or whoever it might be. It’s about understanding those dynamics. So, it’s looking at that, and then you have to have a conversation with them at times, you know, yeah.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Helping them understand better the role they play with their horse. Yeah, that’s fascinating. So, when it comes to the adjustment side of things, I mean, because I’m still trying to wrap my head around how you actually put your hands on a horse’s spine and adjust the spine. I’ve heard that there are audible cavitations when you adjust horses, correct?


Dr. Patricia Bona: There they are, very often audible, or you feel things moving differently. I’ve started chiropractic and am doing motion palpation as well. Okay, so the big thing is that looking at the anatomy, if you put yourself on all fours, and if you understand the anatomy of a human or yourself, you can kind of relate to where the thoracic spine is and where the lumbar spine is. Sure, but the cervical spine of a horse and a dog is so different. They look like spaceships to me. So when it came to doing that study with the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, at that point in time, I had the ability to get in and do more dissections, and I had some cervical specimens so that you could learn that differently. But, relative to physics, as we know, our spine processes how I related it to the owners. If you have a sailboat, the mast is really tall, but the spinal cord and the spinal column are actually the hull of the boat. So, it doesn’t take much leveraging on the end of that.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Spinous process, just by this process. Thank you.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Relative to getting that motion back, okay. So, between the shoulder blades, right, we have that going there. The base of our neck, the horse’s withers, can be sometimes 10 to 12 inches long. And then the joints are that much smaller because they’re quadrupeds and not bipeds. So, the joints themselves don’t need to be as large to carry; it’s more of a shearing force. Susan, see how that worked.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Fascinating. Wow.


Dr. Andrew Wells: And so you mentioned earlier in the podcast, that you’re using lasers as kind of like a preparatory type activity. So are you lasering every horse every time before an adjustment is that kind of standard protocol?


Dr. Patricia Bona: It is nice because it’s so profound and powerful. However, from another perspective, it’s very interesting because we’re talking about metabolic disorders in people, and you might think that’s mostly about weight and such. But horses also suffer from metabolic disorders related to the pituitary gland and others. As horses age, they may not shed their coats properly and can develop insulin resistance, among other issues. The coat-shedding aspect is particularly fascinating. I’ve used brain frequencies on a young Mustang mare that a client brought in, or rather, that I went to see because we often have to travel to barns since people bring their horses in, and many have clinics to which they ship their horses. But I do a lot of traveling. So, I targeted the brain with specific frequencies, and two days later, the horse began shedding its coat.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Wow, and what does that typically look like in terms of how long you are putting it on an area? Are you moving it, or do you have it stationary on a stand?


Dr. Patricia Bona: What is it I’m holding in my hand? Okay.


Dr. Chad Woolner: And so, you’ll do what, pass it a couple of times, hold it in the same area for a few minutes, typically two?


Dr. Patricia Bona: Given I had about two minutes, I wanted to see some sort of changes. Okay, it depends on the horse and what other factors are involved, but because you’re not really going to access all the lobes of their brain—their brains are smaller—I typically only laser the frontal portion and then the sides around the ears and the atlas. Okay? And we wait to see what kind of changes occur. Sometimes, you’re going to expect a change, like with horses that have had any sort of spinal issue. I’m not treating a disease, right? It’s the effects. For example, if a horse has had Lyme disease or if a horse has had equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), which is pretty significant if you laser their brain and it helps them, you’ll see they’ll just start yawning, sometimes 10-20 times. So, you know the body is having this huge release.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Wow, that’s amazing. Do you notice if, after laser treatments, the horses become more affectionate towards you? For example, do they lean their noses against you or show any similar behaviors?


Dr. Patricia Bona: The horses quite often will turn around because they want to touch the laser, or they’ll put their nose on it and want to touch it, even with some other tools. Because I use various tools, like a wash or a spoon, I get pretty deep into my work with a fast release and spend a lot of time on it. So, they want to turn around, put their nose on it, chew on it, and see what it is.


Dr. Chad Woolner: That’s hilarious.


Dr. Andrew Wells: Hopefully haven’t lost any lasers with that. Chewing.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Pretty protective about that.


Dr. Chad Woolner: That’s amazing. So, owners, I would imagine, notice pretty significant effects pretty quickly from this as well. With the lasers,


Dr. Patricia Bona: Some people are very tuned in to their horses. They might say, “Well, if you can just check their neck and then, you know, laser it-she’s so responsive that we might just laser her before a competition,” and you can see a big difference. So, it’s really about having that awareness as an owner, trainer, or rider that you can really tell what helps the most and prioritize things in that way. That’s amazing. Owners, I would imagine, notice pretty significant effects pretty quickly from this as well, with the lasers.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Do you still have your horse or horses?


Dr. Patricia Bona: My horse retired. He’s 22. His name is Sorento, and unfortunately, he had to retire when he was about 13 because he had a systemic disorder called degenerative suspensory ligament disease. This disease affects the glucosamine in the tissue, resulting in the ligaments’ inability to keep their ankles off the ground. The condition distorts the tissue, similar to untwisting a rope or cable, which can’t be twisted back. Despite this, Nick, a very social thoroughbred who almost raced but never hit the track, came to me when I was leasing a barn for my two horses. Someone approached me about bringing their boyfriend’s horse over due to a lack of space at their barn, so I took him in, and he was eventually abandoned by me. However, I believe things happen for a reason. Once, while I was in the stall telling him I was going to take his blanket off, something scared him, and he kicked me very hard in the leg, knocking me to the ground. Luckily, I had been working out a lot, but I wasn’t sure if my femur was fractured. I managed to get up and out of the stall, only to see he had split my quadricep in half; the injury was about eight inches long, bruised, and bleeding. Yet, all things happen for a reason. I called up my contacts and retrieved some equipment I had lent out, including a G machine, and I used kinesiotape on it since it was right in the middle, allowing me to still use my knee and hip. I got in touch with Dr. Gloria Weintrob, who lent me a low-level laser to use, and it worked so well that when I saw in a journal that Dr. Ruka and Dr. Murthy were conducting a seminar in Baltimore, I, being just outside of Philadelphia, decided to attend.


Dr. Chad Woolner: It’s like back in the day


Dr. Patricia Bona: Back in the day, yeah, it’s been at least probably 20 years, okay. 20 years ago, yeah. So to this day, I’ll feel the dent in my leg. It’s my tattoo, I say, and I thank Nick because that’s my horse’s name. So, before I reveal the big reveal, as I was exploring other options, I’ve been very focused on orthopedics in relation to posture, muscles, balance, and treating yourself as an athlete. But on the other side of that, I go for acupuncture. You know, I recommend acupuncture, I was exploring other energy techniques. This is where I took some courses on visceral manipulation; I was kind of searching for something to complement my practice. And then my horse kicks me in my leg and introduces me to cold laser therapy and all the fantastic offerings that Erchonia has in the seminars and stuff. My horse’s name is Ultimate Machine.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Ultimate machine. That’s amazing. 


Dr. Andrew Wells: That’s such a cool story, and thank you for sharing it. I think the listeners can probably hear your voice, but they can’t see the expression on your face or your body language, which says a lot about your pet story. Undoubtedly, it has helped a lot of people and many other animals just by sharing that story. I do believe everything happens for a reason.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Yeah, I’ve had many people who will thank your horse for kicking you.


Dr. Andrew Wells: That’s right. Yeah, Now, do you work with other chiropractors in the animal space? Additionally, are you involved in teaching, lecturing, or mentoring other chiropractors who are interested in working with animals?


Dr. Patricia Bona: I do want to ask them, too. In the past, I began delivering lectures to our national organization, the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, starting in 2012. That’s when I first discussed posture, skin, scar tissue, dents, and dings, topics that have only grown in popularity since then. Over time, I’ve developed various techniques. For example, I’ve created one I call the “Upper Elementary Release.” This technique is crucial when there’s significant scar tissue causing contraction in the neck. While it’s primarily for horses, I’ve performed similar releases on people. The process involves freeing the soft tissue and muscles that can become entrapped around the trachea. This intervention has had profound effects, significantly altering the horse’s posture. I last presented this technique at the AVCA conference in 2018 in Tucson. It involves taking before and after photos of the horses from both sides, then performing this 10 to 15-minute release—or sometimes less—and documenting the remarkable differences. I named it “Upper Elementary Release” because it targets the area around the trachea, close to the horse’s esophagus. This is relevant because horses are susceptible to gastric ulcers, a condition affecting around 70% of horses, competition or not. However, I estimate that 60 to 70% of these horses also have posture-impacting dents, dings, and scar tissue, which could affect the alignment of their internal organs. In fact, I’m scheduled to attend a webinar that may be hosted by an osteopath or osteopathic veterinarian—my apologies for the uncertainty—where the discussion will focus on scar tissue and visceral issues in horses.


Dr. Chad Woolner: fascinating. Yes, Wow. That’s amazing.


Dr. Patricia Bona: So, in 2018, I lectured to about 700 farriers and foreshores at the International Healthcare Conference in Ohio. It was a fantastic experience, featuring four PowerPoint screens as I discussed the crucial role of a farrier in maintaining the balance and health of horse feet, which need attention every four to six weeks. This maintenance is vital to prevent the hooves, which grow like fingernails, from causing changes in the animal’s physics due to leverage, which can lead to tearing of the lamina and pain. My lecture focused on posture, the occasional resistance of horses to adopt certain positions, and how, similar to humans developing flat feet when things go awry, a horse’s nervous system can adjust to mitigate this issue. We can employ exercises to address a horse’s flat feet, just as we do for humans.

Segueing slightly, I’ve found the use of heel lifts fascinating. Before utilizing laser technology, examining a person’s pelvis and applying heel lifts were common practices of mine, which could be either a temporary or long-term solution. However, since incorporating the Erchonia laser into my practice, I’ve observed such significant improvements in arch formation post-muscle balancing and adjustments that I seldom resort to heel lifts anymore.

Returning to the conference, the presentation was exceedingly well-received, prompting requests for my return. Although committing to such engagements is substantial, I am eager to collaborate with veterinarians using the Erchonia method and am willing to share all my insights. I have a YouTube channel with around 30 videos that could benefit from better organization, but it serves as a platform for sharing my work.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Are there a lot of animals? And when I say animal chiropractors, are there many that work on them? There aren’t many that work on horses, are there?


Dr. Patricia Bona: You know, it’s difficult for me to answer that because you have to consider how many horses there are, right? Like, in comparison, as a human chiropractor, we cater to about 20% of the population. Is that still the case for horses? That’s my best guess. As for horse chiropractic care, I’m not sure of the exact figures. I hold certificate number 52 with the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association, and I understand they might now have up to 6,000 or 7,000 chiropractors. People come from all over the world to get certified. There’s also an International Animal Chiropractic Association. Yeah.


Dr. Chad Woolner: So you’ve been at it for a while, being certificate number 52. That’s impressive. Yes, that’s amazing.


Dr. Patricia Bona: I started the course I think in 1991 or 1992. I’ve been in practice since 1987.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Wow. Where did you go to school? Logan, okay. And there’s the veterinary, the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. It sounds like, if you’re doing dissections, this is in-person training.


Dr. Patricia Bona: In-person training requires you to be a veterinarian or a chiropractor, or to be entering your final semesters or trimesters to take the course. It might now be a 300-credit course, which is quite intense. It was initiated by Dr. Sharon Willoughby, who was one of the pioneers in the field. Contrary to what some might think, she was a veterinarian before becoming a dual-licensed chiropractor. Nowadays, there are many more professionals in this field, which is commendable. It represents a significant commitment in terms of time, education, and financial investment.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Yeah, that’s amazing. Well, it’s cool to hear what you’re doing. I mean, what a career. What a cool perspective you have, you know, in terms of seeing the impact of lasers on humans, on horses, and on other animals. That’s amazing.


Dr. Patricia Bona: I’m very grateful that my mother is a single parent. She gave me the option, which you might not be aware of, but she did. At one point, she asked, “Do you want to find another piano instructor? Do you want to take ballet lessons, or do you want to take riding lessons?” I wanted to do all three, but I knew that wasn’t feasible at a young age. And being of Hungarian descent, I’ve had people not understand my passion for horses. Then they visit Hungary, and they’re like, “It’s in your genes; you can’t help it.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Hungary is a very big course—oh, yes, place. Okay, yes, I’m learning. I know none of this stuff. He or she teaches me all sorts of things. That’s one of the benefits we get from this podcast: talking with people. We learn so many cool stories and insights on stuff I just otherwise wouldn’t know. And so, I love my very nominal experiences. But all of my experiences with horses have been so great. We took our kids a couple of summers ago to Yellowstone, and they had a horseback riding thing. Our kids just had such a good time. Horses are… There’s something just so special about horses, particularly from what I’ve seen with kids. So, and obviously, they’ve got like all these different horse camps for kids with special needs, or kids who’ve dealt with trauma. They use equine therapy, right? Is that what they call it? Yes.


Dr. Patricia Bona: So going back to what you said, I’m not the best with quotes, but one of our Presidents, Roosevelt, once said, ‘There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.


Dr. Chad Woolner: Oh, what a good cooldown. Yeah.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Yes, back to the riding and stuff. A lot of people think that riding is bad for you, you know, but that’s because they don’t understand that when you learn how to ride, it’s such a beautiful relationship and an athletic endeavor. So, if someone sees a doctor and says, “Oh, you need to stop riding because it’s bad for your back or whatever,” they don’t understand it. And then you just have to say, “Well, why do they have therapeutic riding?” They have therapeutic riding for people who are paraplegics and quadriplegics because it stimulates the spinal cord and reflexes that you can’t activate in any other way. And also, riding is beneficial for emotional support. There’s a larger association called EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) that uses horses for people who have trauma. So, there are many different certification programs and opportunities when you go and look for them, physically, mentally, and emotionally, that involve interacting with horses and dogs as well. But there’s just something about horses and what they symbolize. They’ve carried civilizations into battle and done incredible things. In fact, there’s a story about Sergeant Reckless, a horse who made a huge impact during the Korean War. There’s a huge bronze sculpture of her at the World Equestrian Center. She made about 20 journeys in one day, carrying ammunition amidst the chaos of war. Her story is truly remarkable. She was a hero, supplying our troops with ammunition while everything was getting blown up around her. And she did get to come home and retire. It’s a really beautiful story.


Dr. Chad Woolner: I remember when the movies Warhorse and Seabiscuit came out. Both times, for whatever reason, the previews did not appeal to me at all. I thought, “It’s just a movie about a horse or whatever.” But both times, I went and saw the movies, and I was like, “That was the most amazing movie. It was so moving to me.” It’s just funny to me because, on the outside, I’m like, “Man, I don’t care.” But then you watch it, and you’re like, “How can you not be moved by those movies and stories?” It shows you what incredible animals they are and what a beautiful relationship exists between humans and horses, unlike any other animal-type relationship. And that’s cool that you get to be a part of that and play such a significant role. You’re such an early adopter or dare I say, pioneer, in that realm. What a cool career you’ve had. We certainly appreciate you being here with us and taking the time to share that with everybody here.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Well, and I’m so grateful for that. And I’m far from a pioneer from back then. But I think some of my techniques are related to, you know, soft tissue and integrating that. Sure, again, the soft tissue is the nervous system, you know, and we need to work with that. I’m so grateful that my mother allowed me that opportunity. One last little story is that so watching horses form and function, I started to watch people. So from a child, I’ve imitated how people walked. And then my good friend, Dr. Peggy Dillon, was in the fourth with me, and she ended up getting into chiropractic. I never thought I was even going to go to college. But I took college prep courses, and then all of a sudden decided that’s what I was going to do in the short term, but watching the horses form and function, watching people’s form and function and imitating how they walked. You know, it’s just a blessed life that came full circle.


Dr. Chad Woolner: So you have horses to thank for chiropractic college, and horses have you to thank for chiropractic college. Right. It’s a beautiful story. Really, really neat. So that’s awesome. So well. Incredible. Thank you again, so much for sharing that with us. Any final thoughts, Dr. Wells? No.


Dr. Andrew Wells: Just wanted to say thank you for being on this episode. This is a really entertaining episode, if for nothing else. We don’t often hear these kinds of stories. Most podcasts tend to focus on how lasers work and their applications to human beings, and typically musculoskeletal pain. But you really painted a pretty picture of how this amazing technology can be used for animals, improving their lives and those of their riders and athletes. I love how you connected those two. Yeah.


Dr. Patricia Bona: Because we are animals. That’s what we forget. You know, and that’s why we have so many issues because we were supposed to be moving. We’re supposed to be active. We’re supposed to have a balance in our lives. Yeah. And to see how it easily affects the horses and the dogs. To not forget that we’re animals and we need to have that physical activity. And yeah


Dr. Chad Woolner: Great point. Lovely. Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, thank you again, Dr. Pat; we appreciate you being here on this episode with us, and those listening. We hope that this has been really valuable for you as well. And we will catch you all in the next episode. Have a good one. Thanks for listening to The Laser Light Show. Be sure to subscribe and give us a review. If you’re interested in learning more about our Erchonia lasers, just head on over to our website, Erchonia.com. There you’ll find a ton of useful resources, including research news and links to upcoming live events, as well as our e-community where you can access additional resources for free, including advanced training and business tools. Again, thanks for listening and we will catch you on the next episode.


About The Guest(s):

Dr. Patricia Bona is a distinguished chiropractor specializing in both human and animal care, particularly focusing on horses. Certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association since 1992, Dr. Bona has pioneered the use of laser therapy for animals, demonstrating its significant benefits for muscle balancing, inflammation reduction, and overall wellness. 

Episode Summary:

In Episode #29 of The Laser Light Show, Dr. Chad Woolner and Dr. Andrew Wells chat with Dr. Patricia Bona about her unique practice in the chiropractic field, working with both humans and animals, especially horses. Dr. Bona, a pioneer in applying chiropractic care and laser therapy to animals, shares her insights into the benefits and nuances of treating horses, her journey into animal chiropractic, and the profound effects of laser therapy in her practice.

Key Takeaways:

  • Diverse Practice: Dr. Bona has a practice that spans treating humans and a variety of animals, with a significant focus on horses and recently, dogs. Her work is about 60% animal-focused, demonstrating the demand for chiropractic care in the animal world.
  • Impact of Laser Therapy: The discussion highlights the transformative role of laser therapy in treating animals, particularly horses. Dr. Bona discusses how laser therapy aids in muscle balancing, inflammation reduction, and overall wellness, benefiting animals significantly.
  • Human-Animal Connection: Dr. Bona emphasizes the connection between the health of animals and their human counterparts, especially in competitive settings. She points out that while owners often prioritize their animals’ health, they tend to neglect their own, despite the symbiotic relationship affecting both parties’ performance and well-being.
  •  Chiropractic Techniques and Tools: The episode explores the variety of chiropractic techniques and tools used in treating animals, especially horses. Dr. Bona shares her approach to adjustments, the importance of manual therapy, and the integration of laser therapy as a preparation and treatment tool.
  •  Animal Communication and Assessment: Dr. Bona dives into the intuitive process of communicating with and assessing animals, focusing on body language, posture, and response to treatment. This non-verbal communication is crucial for understanding and effectively treating animal patients.    


  •   “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.” – Dr. Bona highlights the profound emotional and physical connection between humans and horses.
  •  “The laser has been the most profound tool in my practice, benefiting horses, dogs, and humans alike.” – Dr. Bona on the impact of laser therapy.
  • “I consider myself an artist working with a living medium, able to effect significant changes.” – Dr. Bona’s view on her role as a chiropractor for animals.