Allergies in both humans and horses can be life-threatening. Severe allergic reactions can lead to cardiovascular and respiratory failure.
Though horses exhibit allergic reactions in a variety of ways, there are only five types of allergies: - contact, bug bite, food, bacterial, inhalant.
Contact allergies can be a reaction to anything from cleaning chemicals and grooming aids to bedding and fertilizers. The most common allergen type is inhalant, or atopy. 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. The horse’s body over-reacts to the irritant by creating antibodies to fight the allergen. In other words, the horse’s immune system is over-acting; from a Chinese medicine perspective, the animal’s immune system is not in balance.
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, you can offer your horse an acupressure session twice a week, as part of his grooming regimen, that helps balance his immune system in general.
Acupressure points, also called “acupoints,” are 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, located in a depression in front of the elbow – Enhances the immune system overall to create balance; more specifically, this point can reduce itching (pruritus) and benefit skin disorders.
Large Intestine 4 (LI 4), Joining Valley, located just below the head of the medial splint bone – This acupoint is known to affect the immune system while also supporting the respiratory system.
Stomach 36 (St 36), Leg Three Mile, located on the outside of the hind leg, below the patella – 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, found approximately 3 inches off the edge of the spinous process of the 12th thoracic vertebra – This acupoint is associated with ensuring the proper circulation of blood maintaining a balanced flow of nourishment and moisture.
Using 1-2 pounds of pressure, place the soft, fleshy part of the tip of your thumb on the acupoint at about a 90-degree angle. Count to 30 very slowly while applying pressure or until your horse gives evidence of releasing of energy. An energetic release would be licking, yawning, stretching, lowering of the head, or passing gas. Remember to repeat this procedure with each acupoint and on both sides of the horse.
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.
Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow are the authors of Equine Acupressure: A Working Manual, The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide To Canine Acupressure, and Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure. They own Tallgrass Publishers, which offers books, manuals, DVDs, and Meridian Charts for horses, dogs, and cats. They founded Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute which provides hands-on and online training courses worldwide including a Practitioner Certification Program. 888-841-7211, www.animalacupressure.com,
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