There is a saying in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): "If the stomach is strong, the prognosis is good; if the stomach is not strong, the prognosis is not good." As simplistic as this sounds, it is astoundingly true - especially when it comes to horses. Every horse owner knows that when a horse stops eating, something is definitely wrong and the horse needs immediate attention.
The Process of Digestion
The digestion process begins in the horse's mouth, passes down his throat to his stomach where the food is "ripened and rotted" by the spleen/pancreas, according to TCM. Once the food is broken down into absorbable nutrients in the stomach, the Nutrient Chi is sent to the lungs and heart to be distributed throughout the body, and the waste products are sent to the abdominal area for excretion. When a horse is basically healthy, there is enough Chi (i.e., life promoting energy) and blood for this process to occur in a smooth and harmonious fashion.
If, for instance, you see lots of whole pieces of grain in your horse's manure, you may be dealing with an imbalance in the stomach and spleen meridians. The stomach and spleen have failed to "cook" the grain sufficiently since the grain is not properly transformed into nutrients. From a TCM perspective, the stomach and spleen appear to be deficient in Chi; without enough Chi to promote the process of digestion, the horse is not deriving benefit from his food.
Maintaining Harmonious Flow of Chi
The best course of action is to avoid issues with your horse's gastrointestinal tract by maintaining a harmonious flow of Chi, especially along the stomach and spleen meridians. Acupressure treatment (see "Acupressure for the Stomach," page 3) will help support and strengthen your horse's ability to digest his food. This treatment can be used as preventive care treatment to be given once a week. You can perform this treatment when you have concerns about your horse's digestion as well.