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Coughing, drippy nose or eyes, raspy or congested breathing, raised lumps on the neck and/or shoulder, obvious itchy areas – when your horse exhibits any of these conditions, the odds are he has allergies. Unfortunately, allergies can be life-threatening. Severe allergic reactions can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory failure.

Not only do too many horses have allergy issues, there are so many different types of allergies that react to offending environmental substances, called allergens. Though horses exhibit allergic reactions in a variety of ways, there are only five types of allergies: contact, bug bite, food, bacterial, and inhalant.  Contact allergies can be a reaction to cleaning chemicals, bedding, and fertilizers. The most common allergen type is inhalant, or atopy (pronounced “at-ta-pee”). Most often, these allergies occur during the spring and fall when tree, grass, and weed pollens are most prevalent. During warmer weather molds and spores can stimulate an allergic reaction in some horses.

Allergies and Chinese Medicine
Allergies are actually a hypersensitivity to a particular allergen. What is happening during an allergic reaction is that the horse’s body is over-reacting to the irritant by creating antibodies to fight the allergen. In other words, the horse’s immune system is over-acting and from a Chinese medicine perspective, the animal’s immune system is not balanced.

The intention underlying equine acupressure is to support the horse’s ability to cope within his environment. The key to health, according to ancient Chinese medicine, is a balanced flow of “chi,” life-promoting energy, and blood so that the internal organs and bodily tissues are well nourished. When a horse’s body is balanced and functioning properly, his immune system can readily stave-off airborne pollens, molds, or any other potential allergen.

Though each horse has his own constitution and may react differently to different irritants, guardians can offer their horses an acupressure session that helps support and balance his immune system in general as part of his grooming regime two times a week.

Balancing the Immune System Acupressure Session
There are known acupressure points, also called “acupoints,” located along energetic pathways, or meridians, that influence the flow of chi and blood throughout the horse’s body. After thousands of years of observation, the ancient Chinese were able to identify specific acupoints that are specifically effective in balancing the immune system. The following four acupoints can support your horse’s ability to cope with allergens in general:

Large Intestine 11 (LI 11), Pond in the Curve – Enhances the immune system overall to create balance; more specifically, this point can reduce itching (pruritus) and benefits skin disorders.

Large Intestine 4 (LI4), Joining Valley – This acupoint is known to affect the immune system while also supporting the respiratory system.

Stomach 36 (St 36), Leg Three Mile – Helps to prevent allergies. This point is used to enhance the movement of energy and blood throughout the horse’s body to support good health.

Bladder 17 (Bl 17), Diaphragm’s Hollow – This acupoint is associated with ensuring the proper circulation of blood maintaining a balanced flow of nourishment and moisture.

Rather than wait until your horse is showing signs of an allergic reaction, you can perform this brief acupressure session year-round so that you are being proactive and possibly avoiding an allergic reaction in the spring or fall – that would be the best for you and your horse.


By Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis Adjunct Faculty at Hocking College, authors of Equine Acupressue,
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Biography: Nancy Zidonis Co-Founder of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute
Nancy Zidonis began her career in Equine Acupressure over 20 years ago. She is the co-founder of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute and co-author of three animal acupressure texts DVDs and meridian charts. Nancy has studied Traditional Chinese Medicine equine homeopathy and essential oils. She is the Director of Programs for Tallgrass and teaches worldwide. Nancy is responsible for developing equine acupressure and Traditional Chinese Medicine online and hands-on training courses for the 330-hour Practitioner Certification training program. She is Adjunct Faculty in the Equine Health Care & Complementary Therapies Program at Hocking College and a Founding Board Member of the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage (NBCAAM).

Amy Snow Co-Founder of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute
Amy Snow began working in the field of acupressure in 1976. She along with Nancy Zidonis is the co-founder and Director of Education of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute which offers a comprehensive (12 courses) certificate training program in equine canine and feline acupressure worldwide. Amy is the co-author of three animal acupressure books and numerous articles published in national and international publications. She has studied Traditional Chinese Medicine and other healing arts. As Adjunct Faculty in the equine program at Hocking College Amy teaches two of their hands-on courses. Currently she serves as the Founding Co-Chairman of The National Board of Animal Acupressure & Massage (NBCAAM).

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