A phone call every horse owner dreads: “Hey, we had a little traffic ‘incident’ en route. Everything is OK. The driver is pretty shook up and the horses got slammed around pretty good, but there’s no signs of any injuries.” And … there were no outward signs of an injury, standing still the mare looked right as rain. By the next morning, however, she was quite lame–to the extent that we wouldn’t consider leading her into the ring for the halter classes the following day.

The next step was to call on friend and fellow exhibitor Chad Zubrod to take a look. Chad is an equine vet that specializes in surgery, MRI and lameness. Without hesitation, Chad recommended I have Anne Hildreth Nisley, a Certified Equine Therapist, give the mare a session with her MagnaWave.

Her what? I had no idea what a “MagnaWave” was, but fortunately, I’m pretty good at taking advice. I tracked Anne down (she was washing Clydes on the wash rack) and she later came over to our stalls to check on the mare. She asked if I wanted her “adjusted and MagnaWaved” … or just the latter? Of course, I said “both” because I still didn’t know what a MagnaWave was … and more is always better, right?

You’ve all heard the old adage: “I’d have to see it to believe it.” That’s a good one for this situation. What we witnessed that day made an aisle-full of believers out of us. This included a few showmen who have had many years in the business and who’s first reaction was to roll their eyes and call it ‘voodoo’. The mare went from being visibly tense, kicking out with her back feet when a pressure point was touched prior to (and even during the initial stages of) the session, to head hanging, lips smacking, almost asleep in the middle of the aisle during and following the session. What we had considered show and/or separation anxiety in her stall prior to the MagnaWave session (restlessly walking around in her stall, not settling in) was obviously pain-related behavior. Immediately following the very first MagnaWave session, the mare was laying down, sleeping or standing and dozing the rest of the day. Those non-believers in our aisle were equally amazed at the change in behavior and had us all asking the question: “How many times have we said to ourselves, ‘what’s gotten into him/her today?’” instead of realizing that this unusual behavior for a normally docile horse was likely tied to some form of discomfort not visually evident on the outside.

We were convinced that we were on to something!


A native of Iowa, Anne has been riding, driving and showing ponies and horses since she was very young. “I had always wanted to go to chiropractic school since I was a child and had my ponies worked on,” she recalls. “During my senior year of high school, my grandfather told me that since horses are [just] a hobby, I had to go get a ‘real job’. That’s when I decided to go become a nurse. I went to nursing school, got a ‘real job’, and two years later, had enough money saved up to follow my dream.” Anne trained at the acclaimed Helen J. Woods Equine Therapy Program in Barriere, British Columbia, Canada, and has been doing equine therapy work for the past five years.

Her husband and business partner since 2013, John Nisley, is a farrier, a horse trainer and former Assistant Supervisor of the Budweiser’s St. Louis hitch. Also a native of Iowa, John, too, has been working with horses most of his life. He trained as a farrier at the Five Star Horseshoeing School of Minco, Oklahoma. Anne says that having a farrier on-site is very beneficial to her clients because “if the horse’s feet are not in balance, everything we do chiropractically will not stay in alignment.”

The couple’s business, “Top Notch Equine”, based in Altoona, Iowa, has grown steadily over four years ago. The bulk of their clientele is Western Pleasure and barrel racing horses, with harness racing and draft horses composing the balance. In addition to individual farm calls, they travel to several shows and racetracks where their clients tend to congregate. Anne estimates having MagnaWaved around 450 horses last year–100 to 150 of which were draft horses.

The couple acquired a MagnaWave unit in May. “I was introduced to the pulsed electro-magnetic fields by my barrel racing clients,” recalls Anne. “They had continually asked if I would ever get into other therapies besides chiropractic. After two years of trying convincing John that this would be awesome to have with our current business, he
agreed to give it a try!”

Both Anne and John are MagnaWave certified and have since used their MagnaWave machines on over 60 horses, a quarter of which have been drafts. “The MagnaWave helps hold the [chiropractic] adjustment so much longer,” says Anne, “plus it reduces muscle soreness. Clients can see the benefit in their horses much quicker [than via chiropractic alone]”. When asked about the most memorable outcomes, Anne says, “We’ve MagnaWaved several barrel horses–that were very sore in the shoulders–that afterwards increased their times by a half to a full second. We work on numerous harness racing horses that get sore throughout their back and in the hips. After being MagnaWaved, several have taken up to three seconds off their times. We’ve worked on draft horses that had swelling somewhere in their legs, and with one-to two sessions, it mitigated. The machine has so many benefits it is hard to narrow down any one case!” So what makes this “contraption” work? That explanation will require a little technical background on cells…


I’d make a poor excuse for a biologist, but let me take a shot at explaining cell function: All cells that a body are composed of–be they of a heart, brain or kidney– require energy in order to function. In terms of a human body, for example, we are talking about trillions of cells, and every one of them both generates this energy and transmits it. To produce this energy, a cell requires oxygen and about 90 other substances including enzymes, glucose and nutrients. Once available, cellular energy is then chemically “transported” via ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), which regulates cell metabolism, and is fundamental to all cell (and body) functions. It is necessary for movement of the body, building up and breaking down molecules, and transporting substances across cell membranes. It other words, it’s necessary to sustain life itself.

Cells also produce carbon dioxide, water and waste products, which must be transported as well. To be able to execute and control all these processes properly, good cell metabolism is required, which is dependent upon the cells have a proper “charge”. All living cells within the body possess potentials (or charges) between the inner and outer membrane of the cell, which, under normal healthy circumstances, are fixed. Many factors can disrupt these signals, which equates to pain, inflammation and/or loss of function. When cells are damaged, the potentials change such that the balance across the membrane changes, causing the attraction of positive sodium ions into the cell and negative trace elements and proteins out of the cell. Whenever this electrical potential drops, active metabolism is impaired. Low ATP levels cause cells to be “sick”, and decreases their ability to heal, regenerate or function properly. Liquid is attracted into the interstitial area and swelling ensues. Ultimately, every illness and most injuries are the consequence of impaired cell metabolism. The good news is that energy also happens to be the key to healing. Extensive research has shown that a pulsating electro-magnetic field (PEMF) has a positive influence on any disease process or when tissues are stressed from an injury. By displacing and increasing the motion of ions and electrolytes, PEMF can lead to normalization of the membrane potential and actually increase their energy (or “charge”) by up to 500%. Studies have also shown increases in blood oxygen at the cellular level. The improved blood flow, increased blood oxygen and lymphatic cleansing reduce pain and inflammation, build-up of lactic acid and improve the overall healing capabilities. PEMF produces one main result: it stimulates cell metabolism. This causes a chain of processes in the body and leads to improvement of health without side effects.


I’d make a poor excuse for a physicist, but allow me now to try explaining PEMF: An electro-magnetic field affects the behavior of anything within the magnetic field having a charge. This includes human and mammalian bodies–every heartbeat generates electro-magnetic waves throughout the blood vessels of the body, stimulating tissues at a cellular level. Interaction occurs between external magnetic fields and the normal electric and electro-magnetic fields produced by the body. A magnetic field passing through the entire human body will have an electro-magnetic effect on each of the body’s 70+ trillion cells–they will act in basic and fundamental ways on molecules and tissues. They affect the most basic functions of all cells, of all living things. By opening cell channels, nutrients enter the cell easily, waste is eliminated from the cell more efficiently and the cell is better able to perform the function to which it was designed. This helps to rebalance and restore optimum cell function. If you restore enough cells, they will all work more efficiently. PEMF also increases special stress proteins that prevent cell breakdown and wear and tear, as well as help speed recovery from injury.

Enter PEMF as an alternative option. Thus far, its most common use in North America has been for non-union fractures (when broken bones fail to heal) from sports or accident-related injuries. In Eastern Europe, PEMF is already a standard modality for injured tissue and bone. For over 60 years, PEMF has also been used for pain and edema in soft tissue. Other applications include arthritis (the reduction of changes), fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Cushing’s disease, migraines, depression and sinusitis. As a viable alternative to drugs or invasive surgery, the option is catching on here in the U.S.

Only unhealthy or unbalanced cells “need” and use the extra energy supplied by PEMF to heal. A cell cannot produce more energy than it is capable of, thus, it cannot be “overcharged” with PEMF. Consequently, healthy cells seem to “ignore” these magnetic fields. Furthermore, since they are not condition-specific, PEMF can be used by virtually anyone or anything for nearly any condition. They’ve been shown to decrease inflammation, increase circulation, enhance muscle function, speed bone healing, reduce the effects of stress, and improve blood oxygenation, among a myriad of other benefits.

Besides humans, the MagnaWave can be and is used on every species of livestock, but since this is a heavy horse publication, let’s keep the attention focused there. Fortunately, many of Anne and John’s clients are of the draft horse persuasion.


In addition to being the instigator in my own exposure to the MagnaWave, Chad Zubrod is the owner and driver of Zubrod Percherons from Guthrie, Oklahoma. He and his family raise several foals each years, as well as show their six-up of mares at several venues throughout the Midwest. I was curious how Chad had known about the sessions. “The MagnaWave has been around for many years, with several of our clients being exposed to it and using it at shows and performance events for sore muscles and stiffness,” he recalled. “Many of them were impressed with the effect that they thought they saw in their horse after session. However, I had never seen it used first hand until this year. We try to keep our hitch mares feeling and performing at their highest potential with both traditional and alternative therapies. We have used chiropractic, acupuncture and massage to try to achieve peak performance throughout the year. We had a mare come off the trailer at a show with very unusual swelling of a front leg, and extreme soreness to palpation, and lameness at the walk. I treated the horse with conventional veterinary therapy of anti-inflammatories, analgesics, icing and compression. I sought out Anne Hildreth Nisley to help with the mare, hoping to have her massage on the leg to help with the swelling. Anne evaluated the horse, and massaged her leg, and adjusted her, then recommended MagnaWave. Having no firsthand experience, I was a little hesitant as to if it would help, but I needed to do everything that we could to try to help our mare. We treated the mare twice a day for two days with the MagnaWave, in addition to traditional veterinary therapy, and the swelling was gone, the mare was sound and feeling good. I do not think that would have happened in that time frame without the MagnaWave. From what I have heard and read on the technology, the electro-magnetic pulses that are created in the tissue by the MagnaWave have many effects, including reestablishing a balance in the charge of the cells which become negatively charged when injured, help remove lactic acid and improve oxygenation. It also appears to stimulate the release of healing cytokines and recruit cells to the injured area to help healing. I think that sessions on the muscle and soft tissues has the greatest potential to help horses that are sore from performing, traveling, or hurting themselves at a show, and treatment of injured tendons, or bones would require a longer program of intermittent sessions to gain the greatest benefit. I am very thankful to Anne and John for what they did to help our horse, so much so that I’ve recommended it to others as a supplemental application to traditional veterinary treatment. As with everything, I think that everything has its limitations, but it is the combination of therapies that can be used to do the greatest amount of good, and bring out the greatest potential in our equine athletes.”

Seeing is believing, and Chad isn’t the only believer. Joe Biren, hitch manager and trainer for Dakota Thunder Shires of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, relates, “We have a six-year-old gelding that had surgery on his stifle this spring. His recovery time was longer than expected due to not healing properly after his surgery. After visiting with John at the Scott County Fair about the MagnaWave I went home and researched it. The thing that impressed me the most was how it would help a horse shorten its recovery time from and injury or surgery and get them back at the top of their game quicker. We worked on our horse around the middle of August (I wish I’d have done so months earlier) with the MagnaWave. This horse had surgery in March and was struggling to recover fully. After three sessions of the MagnaWave I saw this horse running, bucking and kicking out with his hind legs–something I hadn’t seen since before his initial injury. He’s also been in the team and wheel of the four at two shows. Now I am certain that this horse would recover and be ready for to perform again … but I was thinking it was going to be next year. Without the MagnaWave, I’m sure it would have taken at least that long.

“Ultimately we all know a healthy happy horse will perform for their owner/trainer,” concludes Joe. “The MagnaWave helped me speed up the recovery on this horse. I’m confident in the results I’ve seen, and I’ll be using it again in the future.”

Few exhibitors hit the road as hard, and compete at as many events as does Freeman Yoder, Equine Operations Manager for Young Living Percherons, based in Mona, Utah. Besides campaigning a sixmare hitch, Freeman shows a string of halter horses. He had occasion to be introduced to the MagnaWave at Des Moines this past August.

“I’m a true believer in the MagnaWave, from the experience I’ve had,” admits Freeman. “Our mare that Anne worked on at the Iowa State Fair, I had benched. After Anne used the MagnaWave on her, she went into the Mens Mare Cart class a few hours later and took 2nd place in a very tough field of entries.”

Word of mouth is a powerful thing for something with so many applications. Though it’s been less than a year since Anne and John acquired their MagnaWave, it’s been a busy one for them. The Oklahoma State Fair (and Classic Series Finals) was one of many events they attended this fall. “Out of the 12 (Classic Series) finalists competing,” reports Anne, “eight of them used the MagnaWave this year at some point … which is pretty cool.”

One of those Classic Series contenders Dianna Marquardt, owner of Shining Stars Percherons, who also lives in Altoona, Iowa, is a regular client and a big fan of Top Notch’s newest equipment. “We love the MagnaWave,” she asserts. “It serves as a very important piece in the complex puzzle of managing to keep horses driving well during a very demanding show season!” Having won Supreme World Champion Gelding Six honors at the 2014 World Percheron Congress, Dianna knows and understands the rigors that are put on horses at that level of competition.


“I honestly feel that if draft horse owners would use the machine on a regular basis,” sums up Anne, “we would see greater longevity and certainly more comfortable horses in the show ring.” It makes perfect sense that what’s good for Thoroughbreds, Hunter/Jumpers, pleasure horses and harness racers, is good for draft horses too. As with chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and other non-traditional therapies, draft horse owners are often skeptical and, perhaps, the last to “come around.” If you have a horse in pain, don’t let that be the case with you. Give MagnaWave a try. Like me, once you see for yourself how fast your horse starts to feel better, you too will be a believer in this amazing technology.

For more information:
Top Notch Equine
Anne Hildreth & John Nisley
6212 NE 27th Avenue
Altoona, IA 50009