Equine Shiatsu: A Complimentary Therapy

I decided to take the plunge and study Equine Shiatsu after I had finished my two year Diploma in Equine Studies, found a full time job, and passed my UKCC Level 2. I found my mind restless. I missed studying, I missed exams (call me mad if you like!), and even though I was still learning and developing my skills working in a busy riding school, I wanted to broaden my knowledge in another sphere.

I’d always been interested in various equine therapies. Having also worked in equine rehabilitation for several years, I’d had the opportunity to witness the effects of massage and alternative therapies on horses first-hand.

I’d come across Shiatsu a couple of years ago when I’d first watched Andrea Hibbert, an Equine Shiatsu Therapist (check out her Facebook Page here) who sees to some of the horses at Equine Rehabilitation and Rehoming (ERR), where I volunteer. The technique intrigued me, and after seeing obvious positive effects on the horses from Andrea’s magic hands, I decided to look into it myself.

Thoroughbred Cleo enjoying some Shiatsu time at Equine Rehabilitation and Rehoming

I found a course in Errol, Perth, run by the knowledgeable and intuitive Liz Eddy. This course will enable me to become a fully qualified practitioner after two and a half years, which is one of my current professional goals. The diploma is gained through weekends spread out over the duration of the course, spent in Perth and visiting surrounding yards. This made it very achievable for the likes of me, needing to continue on with full time work as they study.

After enrolling in September 2017 – and now nearing the end of my first level – it’s been a huge eye-opener and I’ve loved every minute of it so far.

For those who aren’t as clued in on this wonderful therapy, Shiatsu is a type of Japanese physiotherapy that can be used in treating a vast array of problems. It uses finger and thumb pressure on acupuncture points along the horse’s body (found along the body’s meridians) to free restrictions, relieve tension, and help the body to let go of pain. Also incorporating various stretches and rotations, it’s suitable for most horses, helping them to manage stress, mental and emotional issues as well as deal with physical concerns.

ERR Arthur having some head work done to relieve tension

What makes Shiatsu so important – other than the fact it’s a therapy done with the horse and not to the horse – is that it seeks to find and treat the underlying cause of an issue, rather than just deal with and reduce the symptoms. This means that Equine Shiatsu can also be used as a preventative measure, is an excellent aid to general good health, and can be used as a complimentary therapy to other treatments a horse may be receiving. 

Cleo’s shoulder loosening off nicely after some work

Since I’ve been able to witness first-hand the relief it provides to those with soft tissue injuries, mobility issues caused by tight muscles and stiff joints as well as overall relaxation, I’m really excited that I am able to study this practice and its providing me with an awareness I never would have been able to acquire otherwise. Practitioners develop an in depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and – with a sensitive touch – are then able to identify where the horse is feeling their pain/discomfort and provide relief.

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“Ouch,” reaction after finding a knot in Cleo’s brachial triceps
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Cleo realising having the knot worked out is actually quite nice!
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Muscle feels much softer after working on it

With my first year exam fast approaching, I’m enjoying practicing on various horses and it’s extremely encouraging to see such visible results in those I work with already!

If you would like more information on Equine Shiatsu, you can follow this link. 

For the courses provided by Liz Eddy of the Scottish School of Shiatsu for Horses where I’m currently studying, you can click here. 

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