For many years I was a keen believer in acupuncture. A keen recipient myself, I would come away feeling relaxed and uplifted. Whilst I do still see acupuncture as a very effective therapy, since discovering Shiatsu I feel I have gone that one step further in providing my body with the chance to flow smoothly and stay healthy.
Few people however have heard of Shiatsu and, I must confess I was one of them, only reading about Equine Shiatsu as part of a Facebook post by Remus Horse Sanctuary (www.remussanctuary.org). Intrigued by what it was I was drawn to investigate further and, before I knew it, found myself embarking on a three-year course in Equine Shiatsu and I haven’t looked back. Even now the effects never cease to amaze me.
One of the main questions I am asked when visiting clients, is what the difference is between Equine Acupuncture and Equine Shiatsu. To help explain this I like to use the analogy of a garden hose, the idea being that water flowing freely from one end to the other is the equivalent of blood, fluids and energy flowing freely along the body’s channels. The water goes in at the source, flows freely through before exiting the other end. The problem is what happens when the hose is blocked half way along? How can the two ends come together?
Using this analogy on a horse, if for example there is a blockage along the longissimus dorsi muscle (the longest and largest muscle in a horse’s body), treating points either end of this muscle may help clear the blockage but it will take time. Introducing the gentle massage, percussion and stretching techniques used in Shiatsu though can speed up this process, freeing up the flow of energy and easing any discomfort that may have been caused. The way today’s horses are worked, stabled and ridden is not always in keeping with how they would live in the wild. As a result, they are more susceptible to tight muscles and stagnation, preventing energy from flowing freely. This is where Shiatsu can offer that bit more by ensuring the whole body is worked in a treatment.
It’s hard to put into words exactly what happens during a Shiatsu session, not helped by the fact that every session is different. Even sessions with my regular clients will vary each time depending on what the horse decides it needs on the day. The short video below by a fellow practitioner does give a little bit of insight into what one might expect from a session and shows just how all-encompassing a treatment can be.
Whilst acupuncture is still an amazing therapy and one which you, as an owner or rider, may feel works better for your horse, I firmly believe that Shiatsu can offer just that little bit more. Not only will it still address specific acupressure points, it will also bring in extra techniques to ensure those points can ‘talk’ to each other and keep everything flowing freely.