Today I would like to talk about a topic close to my heart. As a fully qualified Equine Shiatsu Therapist I am a full believer in the benefits of Acupressure Massage! I have seen the results time and time again, and it has completely convinced me of this simple, easy to apply art, that is pleasureable to give and pleasureable to receive!
As a follow on from my previous blog ‘Regular Touch for your Horse’ you can choose to assist your horse with some simple massage techniques.
Massage can be used to boost your horses energy in areas you have found to be deficient (cold, flat, empty in feeling), as well as relieving tight or blocked areas on the body (hard, tight, hot or rigid areas).
Your horse will guide you in how much pressure to use, and as you learn to listen, your horse will also tell you exactly what they are in the mood for that day! I can’t tell you how many times a horse I have worked on will come to me and present body areas to me to be massaged.
Often the first time I treat a horse, I work slowly and gently to establish trust and safety for the horse. I allow a horse to move, to get comfortable and to communicate how they would like to be worked on. This is an important part of relating, and is the horses way of talking to me. Generally, I have found that if the first experience of massage is a pleasant one, that same horse will openly welcome more treatments, and invite me to work deeper and with more accuracy for the follow up sessions.
As always I feel the key to good Acupressure is in developing one’s feel. At a very basic level this is relatively easy. As one progresses along this path, you will find your level of sensitivity dramatically improves. Slowly and surely you will discover your hands ability to read your horse and relay to you important information about their health and wellbeing.
The science of Acupressure is a beautiful one. Not only does it assist in building a great relationship with your horse (your horse will love you!), but also it will teach you a lot about health, both yours and your horse’s.
Good acupressure has two components: the practical application and the theoretical understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine principles. This blog will cover a brief overview of practical application.
To begin with gently connect with your horse and apply the palpation exercise talked about earlier. If you find areas on your horse that are not toned or lack elasticity or warmth, know that these areas of the body are deficient and require some additional nourishment or healing support. These places are a good place to begin your massage.
Using your thumbs or the palm of your hands gently apply an even pressure, concentrating your feel and your energy deep into the body. Be sure to maintain your hand position perpendicular to your horse’s body and if applying thumbs pressure, keep your thumb joints straight to allow a direct line of energy flow.
Keeping your body posture balanced and comfortable use your body weight to provide depth. Do not push with the use of your own muscles, rather allow your body weight to provide the extra pressure required. In this way you will remain relaxed and your body will remain comfortable and energised.
Allow at least 5-10 seconds of gentle pressure and presence in each area that requires nourishment. In some cases you can remain in place for several minutes. Use your instinct, feel and visual observations to guide you. If your horse is showing signs of boredom or restlessness, it may be a sign of having done enough. If on the other hand, your horse is deeply relaxed and loving every minute of it, feel free to continue! Some of the signs you may look for are lowering of the head, resting a back leg, chewing and licking, sleeping, leaning into your pressure, gut sounds, and stretching. These signs are evidence that your horse is deeply appreciating your touch!
As with everything, your horse will dictate the level of pressure he/she desires. Allow yourself to be guided by your horse’s communication and be prepared for every treatment to be different.
To conclude your treatment finish with some gentle sweeping strokes beginning at your horse’s head and working in a slow stroking motion down your horse’s body, down his legs, resting quietly at each of his 4 hooves. Take the time to quietly honour each area of his body as you thank your horse for your time spent together.
Allow your horse some time alone to process his treatment and where possible avoid feeding immediately before or after a session as this will demand your horses digestive energy and will stear energy away from the treatment he has just had.
Your horse may look a bit dazed and need some time to quietly sleep or serenely graze before you ask anything of him. It is important to provide fresh water for your horse to drink freely from on completion of his treatment. This will naturally wash through any toxins stored in your horses tissue to be released and eliminated.
Best of luck and enjoy the journey, as I’m sure your horse will!