Acupressure, like acupuncture, is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. It helps direct us in supporting a horse’s health by allowing life-promoting energy, called Chi, to flow unimpeded through his body, so all his internal organs can function properly. Understanding acupressure and familiarizing yourself with your horse’s acupoints can help in the maintenance of good health.
According to TCM, we can influence the flow of Chi energy by stimulating specific pools of energy, called acupressure points or acupoints, located along pathways or channels known as meridians. These meridians form a network of channels that run throughout the horse’s body. If there is a blockage along a meridian pathway, then the energy in the body becomes imbalanced. Once an imbalance occurs, the affected portion of the body is not receiving the nourishment Chi provides, and the immune system may not be able to fend off illness.
As esoteric as this may sound, conventional medicine is coming to accept that Chinese Medicine has great value in building the immune system, accelerating healing after surgery or injury, reducing pain, enhancing blood circulation, and more.
Acupressure, as opposed to acupuncture, does not require needles. It is noninvasive, safe, and always available since we can simply use our fingertips to influence the pools of Chi along the meridians. The novice as well as the trained practitioner can apply acupressure techniques and assist in removing blockages so the horse’s Chi can flow smoothly again, restoring energetic balance. A trained practitioner has the advantage of knowing which acupoints would be most effective, given a specific condition.
Five points for health
Chinese medicine is best utilized as preventive medicine. The goal is for the horse’s energy to be in constant balance so there is less possibility of illness or injury. When an energetically-balanced horse experiences an injury, he will most likely recover more readily.
The acupoints on the chart (right) are designed to help with generally balancing Chi throughout your horse’s body. These five points address common equine issues: digestion, physical flexibility, calming, the immune system, and spinal and hindquarter strength.
1. Stomach 36 (St 36), Leg 3 Mile, is the Master Point for the gastrointestinal tract. It enhances digestive functioning so the body can break down the nutrients from food and herbs, making them bio-available for absorption.
2. Gall Bladder 34 (GB 34), Yang Mound Spring, is the Influential Point for strengthening and increasing the flexibility of tendons and ligaments, and maintaining the body’s ability to move freely. Stimulating this point can help minimize physical injuries.
3. Heart 7 (Ht 7), Spirit’s Gate, offers the horse’s heart original essential energy to help clear his mind and generally calm his emotional state. These acupoints can be used in any stressful situation or to enhance mental clarity necessary for training.
4. Large Intestine 11 (LI 11), Crooked Pond, is known as a powerful immune system strengthening point. It is also a Tonification Point — that is, it enhances the flow of blood and energy throughout the body. These acupoints are commonly included in most health-maintenance acupressure protocols.
5. Bai Hui, Point of 100 Meeting (also called Heaven’s Gate), is a classic equine point located on the dorsal aspect at the lumbosacral space. It benefits the hindquarters and spinal column. It can be used for arthritic conditions and lameness of the hips and hind legs, as well for overexertion and irregular estrous cycles.
The underlying intention when offering your horse an acupressure session is to assist his natural ability to balance the Chi moving through his body.
1. Using the soft portion of the tip of your thumb, apply about one to two pounds of pressure on each of the acupoints on both sides of your horse’s body.
2. Count to 30 slowly, and watch for energetic releases such as a softening eye, lowering head, exhaling, relaxing, or passing air – these are all indicators that Chi is flowing more harmoniously.
3. Move to other acupoints after the horse has demonstrated a release, or you have completed counting to 30 or feel it is time to move on.
4. If the horse shows any signs of discomfort or irritation while holding an acupoint, try another point. If he continues to be agitated in any way, stop and try again another day.
While you are enjoying this acupressure session together, think about how much more comfortable, healthy and emotionally stable your horse is now that his Chi is balanced!
Amy Snow and Nancy Zidonis are the authors of Equine Acupressure: A Working Manual, The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide To Canine Acupressure and Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure. They own Tallgrass Publishers, which offers Meridian Charts for horses, dogs and cats, plus videos on animal acupressure. They also founded Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute, providing hands-on and online training courses worldwide including a Practitioner Certification Program. Phone 1-888-841-7211, visit www.animalacupressure.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.