Shiatsu is a form of Japanese physiotherapy which can be used to treat a wide variety of issues. The majority of the work covers soft tissue injuries and movement dysfunction, such as tight muscles and stiff joints. It is safe and suitable for most horses, both to deal with specific physical concerns, and to manage stress, mental and emotional health problems.
Equine Shiatsu is purely a manual therapy and uses finger and thumb pressure on acupuncture points along the meridians in order to free restrictions in the body which allow and maintain good health – the same points as used in Veterinary Acupuncture. This pressure along the meridians, together with assisted stretching, joint mobilisation and massage, allows the body to release pain and tension gently adjusting both posture and attitude.
Based in the principles of Oriental Medicine, a particular strength of Shiatsu is that it looks to find and treat the underlying causes of dysfunction and not just the symptoms. Oriental theory, in-depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, together with a well developed sensitivity of touch makes Equine Shiatsu an effective therapeutic aid to good horse health.
The meridians are called after the organs of the body, and centuries of experience in China and Japan have shown that stimulation on certain points can affect a certain organ or body system. Thus the Heart meridian and its acupoints can be used to affect the heart or circulation, and the Stomach meridian can be used to help digestive upset or sluggish metabolism. If “Ki” flow in a particular meridian is disturbed or interrupted, then symptoms of illness or discomfort will begin to manifest.
Five Element Theory and Horses Types
In Equine Shiatsu we use the aspects of Oriental Medicine theory which are relevant to horses and apply them accordingly. So, for example, we would define a muscular, well proportioned horse who enjoys his work but gets impatient without plenty to do as a “Wood” type horse. He may encounter tendon and ligament problems: whereas a “Metallic” horse is quieter, has less presence, but likes routine. Skin, intestinal or lung imbalances are more prevalent in this type of horse. Check out the Five Elements for more information.
Members of tESA are encouraged to develop good relationships with their local vets, as Shiatsu (like all complementary therapies) requires that a vet must make diagnosis and be aware that the horse is receiving Shiatsu treatment. Practitioners are now finding that vets are referring horse owners to them for various problems, and it is very encouraging to see this acknowledgement of the therapy by conventional medical practitioners. As with all complementary therapists, Equine Shiatsu practitioners work with the veterinary surgeons act which requires the vet to be aware of their presence.