Acupressure Case Study – Allergy Relief For A Horse

Today we have a guest post that talks about an ailment I think many animal owners can relate to – allergies. In this case study, the practitioner uses acupressure (which I have described in more depth in my earlier “Alternative Healing Modality: Acupressure” post) to provide allergy relief for a horse.

Yes, horses have allergies too. Domesticated horses are impacted by the environment we have created for them, and we are seeing far more allergic reactions than ever before. Leeann “Lu” Garnas, a 2009 graduate of the Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute (, has written a case study that may be helpful to other horses with reactions to inhalant and contact allergens.

Meet Lu Garnas

Lu is a certified equine acupressure practitioner and the owner and founder of Garnas Equine in Belgrade, Montana. In addition to acupressure, Lu is also a certified sports massage therapist specializing in performance and rehabilitation cases, working closely with surgical and rehabilitative teams to return horses to their careers and maintain a high level of performance. A few years ago, she added natural barefoot trimming to her tool belt to help the horses be more comfortable in their work and daily life. Lu specialties take her around the West, traveling to Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, and California…so far.

For more information, please visit: or feel free to call Lu directly at 406.581.1175.

Case Study: Ms. Lola’s Hives
by Leeann Garnas

2 yr. old TB/Hanoverian Mare with allergies

Historical Background:
Ms. Lola first presented a break out of hives in April of 2009 after receiving her first ever round of spring vaccinations (Strangles, Rabies, Flu, Rhino, West Nile, and Encephalomyelitis). The owner described them as “calamari or doughnut” in shape and size with swelling occurring between the lumps creating “continents of inflammation.” An allergy panel was completed revealing that Ms. Lola is allergic to over 30 different things from grasses and weeds to fungi and insects, even cedar shavings and bug repellents. Her owner also mentioned hearing a wheezing as she ate that was a concern regarding swelling in the windpipe during the outbreaks.

The majority of Ms. Lola’s allergies are managed through an allergy shot regime as prescribed by her veterinarian and is finally at the once a month stage for maintenance. Her hay is tested and she is only fed hay containing Crested Wheat grass, Smooth Brome, and Alfalfa. Her diet and exposure to aggravating agents is limited and controlled. Through the winter, her hives are almost non-existent, with a few minor bumps on her neck and chest. In May of 2010, she received her 4-way vaccination and presented with hives the next day.

Presenting Conditions:
At the time of my arrival, Ms. Lola’s swellings included around her nasal openings and large welts the diameter of 4 inches with ridges on the outside and voids in the center (not too dissimilar to the doughnut description) spreading from her chest to her neck, down her flanks. According to her owner, they appear in the following order, and disappear in the exact reverse: start on the chest, go up the neck, down the sides/flank, behind front legs, then to hocks and rear end.

At this point, her skin was very sensitive to touch, but not irritated or weeping anywhere. Her coat condition was lovely with no strong odors and her tongue was a bright pink. Her eyes were bright, if not a bit on the wide-eyed side. The owner mentioned she seeks the cold and seems the happiest in the late fall in to winter.

Session plan:
My first two sessions with Ms. Lola were hit and miss – we saw improvement but failed to gain the upper hand. The sizes of the welts would reduce, but the number remained the same. I touched a large number of points to get reactions as well as determine her level of sensitivity – not my normal 6 points total for regular sessions:

Some points I tried during the first session included:
SP 9 – Relieving allergic and toxic conditions
BL 13 – Promotes lung function, and for use in any respiratory condition
BL 17 – Builds the immune system, influential point for Blood
LU 1 – Alarm point (used initially for assessment purposes only)
LU 9 – Chronic respiratory issues
LI 11 – Immune system support

Many of these points maybe got a second or two of touch before she moved off stomping. The only acupoints receiving releases were LU 1, which was sunken and cold, and LI 11, which was swollen.

Ms. Lola’s mood remained one of frustration as I plodded through the second session with the intention of getting to more Spleen points but receiving “swift” refusals from her. This second session, I changed some points attempting to zero in on the larger issue.

BL 20 & 21 – Both of these due to her sensitivity at SP 20 and 21.
GB 20

After many more swift refusals, I humbly went for LIV 3, and received a huge release of breath and a relaxing of lip and eyes. The session was over.

The breakthrough was clear – tonify the liver. I needed to assist the liver to cleanse the system of toxins and let go of all the other issues at this time.

Third session plan:Ms-Lola: Allergy relief for a horse
LIV 3 – source point
LU 9
LI 11
BL 18
GB 37 – connecting point

And whammo! – her hives started receding. By the fifth session, she is relatively hive-free. She did get herself into a bug nest somehow, but her immune system responded correctly and within two days the bug bites were gone.

It seems very clear to me now, after reviewing my notes and thinking through all the relevant information: The unevenness of her emotions and angry demeanor in the spring time when the world is green and windy with a propensity towards bad judgments now screams Liver condition to me. She told me clearly what helped her, all I had to do was listen.

Ms. Lola continues to improve. We have spread out her sessions and she has begun training to become what her breeding intended.

Please let me be very clear, I am not prescribing an end to vaccinations in this case study. Please discuss the issue with your veterinarian before making any decisions.

Read more about Tallgrass Animal Acupressure in this guest post by founder Amy Snow.

Cattie Coyle

Cattie Coyle

Founder and Editor at Animal Wellness Guide
Cattie is the founder and editor of Animal Wellness Guide. She is a freelance photographer, graduate of Bancroft School of Massage Therapy’s small animal program, and has studied Applied Zoopharmacognosy. Learn more about Cattie
Cattie Coyle
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