Busy, busy, busy, we are all so busy these days, even our horses are busy. They sense our state of mind and feel our stress level sometimes making it difficult to attain the right level of synchronicity for a productive training session. Finding a way to minimise the time and energy needed to bring you and your horse into the right frame of mind to maximise training would be beneficial for both of you.
The ancient healing art and science of acupressure is an excellent vehicle for aligning the rider's and the horse's mindset and energy. It is easy to include a brief acupressure session whilst completing the grooming regime prior to beginning training. The few minutes you spend offering acupressure will help you both "start on the same foot," so to speak, which is always a good idea.
Acupressure for Focus
The first step is to center your own thoughts and energy so that your mind is not dashing in all directions and you are not carrying your "burdens" and transferring them to your horse. One method of releasing extraneous thoughts and energy is to breathe. Inhale slowly filling your chest, hold your breath momentarily, then exhale adding a little force as if you are pushing your breath out and away from you. Repeat this breathing technique three to six times until you feel more relaxed and clear of mind.
Once your mind feels open and your stress has dissipated, look at your wondrous horse and imagine what a focused and perfect training session you are going to have together today. Stroke his back a few times and take a moment to envision how enriched and productive a time you are going to share.
Now you are ready to begin your acupressure session. The following acupressure points, called "acupoints," have been selected to enhance training by calming and clearing your horse's mind so your horse can pay attention to what you want him to do. (Refer to the acupressure chart accompanying this article.)
Yin Tang Point is located on the midline of the horse's head just above the level of the eyes, in the "third-eye" position. This point is one of the classic acupoints used specifically to draw mental energy into focus.
Heart 7 (Ht 7), Shen Men (Spirit's Gate) - This point is known to calm the horse's spirit as well as strengthen and clear the brain. Ht 7 is located just above the "wrist" (carpus) on the forelimb, toward the back of the leg.
Pericardium 6 (Pe 6), Nei Guan (Inner Gate) - Pe 6 supports the bonding process by allowing the animal to reduce pretense and build trust. Additionally, this acupoint clears the mind and calms the spirit while enhancing the smooth flow of energy throughout the horse's body. Pe 6 is located on the foreleg on the front side of the chestnut right in the middle of the length of the chestnut.
Bai Hui, (Heavens Gate or Point of 100 Meetings), is a classic point for animals and is located at the lumbosacral junction where it feels like a little trampoline and there are no spinous processes sticking up on the horse's dorsal midline. Many horses love this point to be scratched and they often stimulate this point on each other out in the paddock. The Bai Hui point relieves stress and opens the mind.
Since the horse's body is bilateral, we suggest you hold these acupoints on both sides of your horse. Place the soft tip of your thumb on each of these points in succession, applying light pressure, and count to at least 30 slowly before releasing an acupoint. Please put your other hand on the horse as well to fee for any reactions. You will know if the horse is moving his energy if he releases, these release can include: lowering of the head, yawning, licking, passing air, and even falling asleep.
Whilst proceeding through this acupressure session with your horse, just picture all the benefit you and your horse are receiving from this session and the focused, productive training session you are about to enjoy together.
By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis Acupressurists, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners & Inst
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