Acupressure, similar to acupuncture, is based on the concept of Qi (Chi), an energy flowing throughout living bodies. Chi flows throughout the meridians, keeping the body functioning as it should.
The ancient Chinese saw the Qi flow of the body in relationship to their everyday life. Water is fundamental to any agrarian, rice based community and it became the metaphor for many point classifications. The meridians, also called channels, are described in terms of water irrigation pathways. Just as an irrigation system bringing water to a lush rice paddy, meridians transport Qi and blood to the terrain of the body.
There are twelve major meridians in the horse which is rooted in the five element theory, each named for the organ in which it is associated. These meridians connect the internal organs with the external body and when Qi becomes obstructed in the meridian, disharmony results and physical symptoms often develop.
According to the Five element system, Qi originates quiet and still like the water in a well which bubbles up from the deep crevices of the earth. Increasing in movement, Qi gushes at the spring points. Qi flows at the stream points gaining in volume. Qi pours at River points finally uniting and running deeply with full force into the Sea points. The Five elements points are therefore
- Well (Jing or ting)
- Spring (Ying spring)
- Stream (Shu stream)
- River (Jing river)
- Sea (He sea)
Qi can be influenced at certain points on the meridians, known as acupoints. By holding pressure or influencing the acupoints, Qi can either be strengthened or released, allowing the flow through the meridians to restore balance and health. This is the basics of acupressure.
Acupressure, which is increasing in popularity with both the general public and scientific community, may be useful for pain reduction; relief of muscle spasms; removing toxins within the body and increasing blood flow aiding with digestive issues; reduces swelling; soothes and calms by relaxing the horse; boosting the immune system; improves flexibility and range of motion; aids with constipation or diarrhea; and can be used to enhance mental clarity for training and performance.
At one time, methods such as acupressure were not even considered here in North America for treatment of horses, but over time, acupressure has become a complement therapy which is used alongside conventional medicine and has been shown to be a viable treatment.