What is Equine Shiatsu?
Shiatsu is a Japanese word meaning "finger pressure". Equine Shiatsu is based on the principles of traditional oriental medicine. It is a hands on therapy in which pressure is applied with the palms, fingers and thumbs. Shiatsu also involves stretches and rotations. Through manual manipulations and applying pressure to certain parts of the body, this therapy can ease pain and stiffness whilst enhancing general well-being.
All Oriental medicine is founded on the basic premise that the body is a dynamic entity which relies on the smooth flow of energy. This energy is called 'Ki' in Japanese or 'Qi' in Chinese and must travel freely to the organs muscles and other body tissues. There are certain parts of the body where Ki is concentrated. These are generally places close to nerves, joints and arteries. These sites are known as acupoints and are where Equine Shiatsu practitioners can access the Ki.
During Shiatsu gentle pressure is applied to the acupoints and this stimulates the body’s natural healing powers. It is a practice that has been used for healing purposes for thousands of years. Indeed acupuncture needles dating back 10,000 years have been discovered during archaeological digs. Shiatsu is said to improve circulation, lymphatic fluid movement and the function of the nervous system.
The concept of the meridians is fundamental to the practice of Shiatsu. The meridians are like channels that relate to the body’s major organs and each has its own set of acupoints. So the points on the heart meridian are stimulated to affect the heart or the circulation whilst the points on the stomach meridian are addressed to improve the digestive system and metabolism.
Many horse owners report impressive results following Equine Shiatsu sessions. This form of therapy can be used to treat recurrent aches and pains, stiffness in joints, breathing issues and stress related problems. It has also been shown to promote general well-being, to calm excitable horses, to temper aggression and to aid recovery from surgery.
If your horse is suffering from any of these conditions and mainstream medicines and treatments have not worked then it could certainly be worth investigating Equine Shiatsu and discussing with your vet.
Equine Shiatsu For Horse and Rider
There are many Equine Shiatsu practitioners in the UK. Courses are available too if you would like to learn more about the therapy and how to practice it yourself. Shiatsu is also available for people. Interestingly Shiatsu practitioners say that it can be important to treat the rider as well as the horse. If riders are suffering from nerves, an imbalance or any stiffness this can be detected by horses and will unsettle them. In addition, riding with a poor posture caused by imbalance, stiffness or injury can be detrimental to your horse.
Equine Shiatsu is certainly an interesting concept. You may not believe in alternative therapies but when all else fails they could be your only option. Equine Shiatsu may not make a difference for your horse but it is unlike to cause harm either if done properly. There is only one way to find out if Shiatsu is right for your horse and that is to investigate further.