5 elements of Chinese Medicine: Water Horse


All horses embody common physical and behavioral characteristics of the Five Elements of Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. By understanding how Five Element patterns relate to your horse, you can encourage deep lasting health and wellbeing. In this article, we finish up our series of articles by learning about the Water horse – his needs and how to work with his temperament.

Expect the unexpected
The Water horse is different from the rest. If you’re looking for a “normal” horse, this is not the one for you! Water horses are quirky and unusual, and routinely confound trainers, riders and vets with odd behavior and ailments. They even catalyze profound transformation in the lives of the people they’re closest to. If the two of you are a good match, your connection will be deeper and more emotionally satisfying than any you’ve known. There are some reliable patterns seen in the Water horse but the key to understanding is to expect the unexpected.

An equine chameleon
The Water horse is always changing. You may even think he is one of the other Elements, but don’t be fooled. Like a chameleon that changes his color but remains a chameleon, the Water horse may look like another Element on the outside, but these are just passing phases. These Elemental “masks” can last for months, even years. Then suddenly, your slow-going “Earth” mare turns into an athletic “Wood” dynamo. This abrupt change of character hints at the essential Water character of your horse.

Canary in the coal mine
The Water horse tends to be physically sensitive. Does your horse have lameness, a skin problem or behavioral pattern that defies diagnosis? Is he sensitive to everything in his environment? Water horses are often plagued by unique physical problems; these odd conditions are real but their origin often lies in unexpected places. For example, Water horses react to energetic influences such as power lines passing through their pasture. They also react to physical substances like pesticides or chemical shampoos. They are the “canary in the coal mine”, warning us about the toxic nature of many everyday horse care practices and products. Do not dismiss their reaction; instead, search for solutions. Maybe you can learn how to use feng shui to mitigate the effect of power lines, or experiment with natural horse care solutions like fly predators or natural shampoos.

Emotional honesty
The Water horse is also emotionally sensitive, especially to feelings that are suppressed beneath a layer of false smiles. Many of their unusual ailments will worsen in the presence of emotional difficulties. If you act differently than you feel, she experiences it as lying and that disturbs her deeply. Learn to express your emotions honestly and seek out companions who do the same.

Exploring new horizons
Sharing your life with a sensitive Water horse will challenge you to reassess long held assumptions about equine training and health care. You may need to experiment with unconventional training methods to help her perform better. You may discover new alternative health care approaches in your quest to improve her odd physical symptoms. Water horses often respond best to energy based techniques like acupressure, acupuncture, homeopathy, healing essences and Reiki.

Embrace the adventure
Now that you know you have a Water horse, how do you handle the challenges of caring for him? First, embrace the adventure and listen to your equine partner. Surrender your dreams of riding Grand Prix dressage – or even riding at all – and enter into a deep relationship with the horse to see where his destiny really lies. To uncover the Water horse’s plans, stay open to new forms of intuitive communication.

Trust what you are picking up, regardless of what conventional “wisdom” may dictate. This horse goes beyond convention. If he comes to you in a dream and tells you about his athletic ambitions, give that serious consideration. If you notice that he goes lame every time you have a show scheduled, he’s telling you he does not want to be a performance horse.

Mystic partner
Accept your Water horse as your teacher and guide. He can help guide you on your path. His wisdom will catalyze profound and lasting transformation in your life. You may be surprised to find yourself looking at things in a different way. A word to the wise: while he may be your teacher on the spiritual plane, here on earth you still need to be the leader while riding and doing groundwork.

Finally, trust your Water horse, your intuition, and your relationship. This horse has plans for you. The only question is whether or not you are prepared to jump into those deep waters. If not, you’ll be happier with another horse. If so, then be prepared for a unique adventure!

The Water horse at a glance

Physical characteristics
Common ailments: Odd symptoms, “brushes with death”, headshaking, EPM, Lyme disease, herpes, chronic skin irritation with itching, bone breaks, joint issues, hearing loss, stiffness, lumbar (lower back) pain or weakness, difficulty collecting, unusual water and/or salt consumption, susceptibility to cold weather, urinary and reproductive disorders, thyroid issues. Water horses may also display the symptoms of their “mask” Element.

Favorite sports: Sport patterns are strongly influenced by “mask” Element. Some are stupendous performers but many develop ailments or behaviors that preclude them from heavy competition, especially if they do not trust the rider/handler.

Tips for success: Balance work and rest, feed high quality salt (Himalayan or other specialty salts) and bone/joint supplements. Provide a healthy home, emotionally as well as physically. Avoid electrical towers or other structures with high electromagnetic fields. Use healing essences like Bach flower remedies to support emotional balance.

Emotional characteristics
Emotional strengths: Wisdom, spiritual connection, may display any or all of the emotional strengths of the other four Elements, deep sense of personal destiny.

Stressed by: Emotional insensitivity or dishonesty, chaos, conventional lifestyles and expectations, people who think this animal is “just a horse”.

Balanced by: Emotional honesty and forthrightness, rest time, healing work, emotional respect from caretaker/trainer/animal communicator.

Vulnerable to: Extreme sensitivity or displays of behavior, especially fear/panic. May display emotional weakness of the other four Elements.

Responds to stress with: Strange or extreme behavior, sometimes self destructive, odd physical ailments connected to emotional stress (personal or in surroundings), stable vices like weaving or cribbing.

Learning style: Benefits from deep intimate connection with a partner, close attention to the horse’s real goals/destiny. Learning style influenced heavily by “mask” Element.

Tips for success: Trust yourself, the relationship between you and your animal, and your intuition in making decisions about the horse. Expect the unexpected, look deeply and creatively for solutions, and surrender to your destiny with this partner. This horse benefits from herbs, acupressure and lifestyle changes that balance the Water Element.

Susan Tenney, CMT, works internationally as a teacher, writer and practitioner of Shiatsu and Five Element Acupressure for animals. She blends massage, acupressure, stretching, movement exercises and lifestyle modifications to improve animal health and performance. Her clients have included the Swiss Equestrian Team and two gold medal-winning United States Equestrian Teams. She is the author of Basic Acupressure for Horses and a growing line of laminated mini-posters on a variety of acupressure topics. Susan offers clinics in Europe and the U.S., and leads a certification program in Switzerland. www.ElementalAcupressure.com