Cold, damp weather is inevitable in some parts of North America – but cold, damp horses don’t have to be! Keep your equine companions warm this winter with Tui Na.
When the weather turns cold and the snow starts to fly, responsible horse caretakers do everything they can to provide adequate shelter for their herds. But during the winter months, it can be a challenge to prevent that damp chill from taking hold of even the hardiest of horses. When Jack Frost does strike, Tui Na offers an enjoyable way to warm up your equine companions.
In Chinese medicine terms, a horse that is wet and chilled is exhibiting what’s aptly referred to as an “Invasion of Wind Damp Cold”. Tui Na (pronounced “Tway Naah”) is an ancient form of Chinese acupressure-massage that offers techniques to help these horses warm up. Two Tui Na techniques are helpful in this case:
1. Tui Fa
When performed rhythmically and repetitively, Tui Fa has a warming affect along the Bladder meridian – one of many energetic channels just beneath the horse’s skin. The Bladder meridian is located about a hand’s width off the horse’s spine.
You may need a mounting block to get high enough to perform Tui Fa along the Bladder meridian. Practitioners often use a sheet on the horse’s back with this technique so that the coat is not disturbed, and to ensure that pressing forward and gliding back can be performed smoothly and rhythmically.
Begin just past the withers. Using the heel of your hand, press gently yet firmly with intent and “push” toward the hindquarters as far as you can reach. Next, allow your hand to glide back along the Bladder meridian. Repeat pushing toward the hindquarters and gliding back toward the withers for two to three minutes, as smoothly and rhythmically as possible and at a comfortable speed. Repeat this procedure on the opposite side of the horse. Tui Fa effectively warms the horse’s entire body.
2. Cou Fa
This second technique warms the horse’s limbs. Cou Fa (pronounced “Soo Fa”) involves the use of both hands to rub vigorously down the horse’s legs.
Place one hand on the medial side (inside) of the leg and the other hand on the lateral side (outside). Starting on the upper part of the leg, progress down, rubbing one hand forward and the other hand back, alternately. Continue alternately rubbing back and forth with one hand forward and the other going back. Feel the friction and warmth of this rubbing technique as you slowly work your way down the horse’s leg. Repeat this process three times on each leg. Be as consistent and rhythmic as you can.
It’s a rare horse that doesn’t absolutely love these Tui Na warming techniques. Every muscle and every joint in his body will benefit from being warmed in the midst of the winter.