Written By: Casie Bazay, an Equine Acupressure Practitioner, of The Naturally Healthy Horse
Unfortunately, most of us who’ve been around horses for very long have experienced some type of emergency situation. I’ll be the first to admit–I don’t handle these situations too well (one of the reasons I chose not to be a vet!), but I am getting better. One thing that has definitely helped, though, is my knowledge of acupressure. Knowing a few key acupressure points can give one a sense of empowerment in emergency situations. And in many cases, acupressure can make quite a difference for your horse.
I want to give you an example of a situation I experienced when acupressure ‘saved the day’. It wasn’t with a horse (although I’ve used acupressure several times in horse emergencies), but with my husband. We were on a cruise and it was the middle of the night when my husband broke out in hives. This was not the first time this had happened, but we hadn’t thought to bring Benadryl, his usual remedy, along.
The hives start out on his skin but then usually affect his ability to breathe–they can be quite scary! When we called the help desk, we learned there was a hefty charge for the cruise staff to open up the pharmacy during the middle of the night.
So I used acupressure–specifically, points for allergic reactions. Within twenty minutes or so, my husband’s symptoms were relieved. Of course, we knew we could pay the $100 (or whatever the charge was) to get the Benadryl if we really needed it, but we were thankful that we didn’t have to!
If you experience an emergency with your horse, you can use acupressure as well. I don’t recommend that you ever replace acupressure with responsible veterinary care, but I do believe it can be a life saver in many cases. And it gives you, as the ‘first responder’, a beneficial tool to use while waiting on the vet.
To employ acupressure, use gentle but steady finger pressure with either your forefinger or thumb on each specific acu-point. Hold the pressure for about 10-20 seconds or until you see a ‘release’ from the horse–such as licking and chewing, a loud sigh, etc. Of course, if the horse is in distress, you may not always see this type of reaction.
For a more complete review of what acupressure is and how it can help, see this post.
Below, I’ve listed one important acu-point that can be used for several different equine emergencies. If the point is described as bilateral, that means it will be found (and can be treated) on both sides of the horse.
Shock or Cardiac Arrest
Governing Vessel 26: Found between and towards the lower end of the nostrils.
Stomach 25 (bilateral): Find the horse’s umbilicus (belly button) just in front of the genitals. (Be careful as a colicky horse may kick.) Stomach 25 is found about three finger widths lateral to (to the side of) the umbilicus.
(For more acu-points useful for colic, see this post.)
Liver 3 (bilateral): Found just below the inner hock, towards the front of the hind leg.
Pericardium 9 (bilateral): Found at the back of each front foot, in the very center, in a depression above the heel bulbs.
Large Intestine 11 (bilateral): If you lift the foreleg, LI 11 can be found at the end of the crease that appears along the top of the foreleg.
So practice finding these acu-points on your horse so that if you do find yourself in an emergency situation, you’ll be prepared. And of course, always call your vet!