Horses are natural athletes and they must keep moving to stay strong and healthy. In the wild, horses travel 20 to 30 miles in a day to forage. Body movement is imperative making the animal’s core strength essential. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), core strength means much more than the muscles of the barrel and flank. From the TCM perspective, core strength involves muscles, the flow of vital substances, and the optimum functioning of the internal organ systems.
The balance and flow of the vital substance such as energy, blood, and body fluids of all the internal organs is important for equine health and performance. However, the two organ systems that are most responsible for the deep core of the body are Lung and Kidney.
The relationship between the Lung and the Kidney creates the horse’s core strength. The connection between these two organ systems is the horse’s “Axis of Power”. The Kidney is said to “Root the Breath” by grasping Lung chi and holding it firmly in the body.
When the relationship between Kidney and Lung is strong the horse can breathe deeply and freely. When at rest a horse takes in about 8 to 16 breaths per minute. With rapid exertion, a horse’s breathing rate elevates to about 120 breaths per minute. For the horse to receive peak airflow, which is 80 liters per second, the Lung and Kidney inter-relationship must function well.
When Kidney chi isn’t strong enough to “root” Lung chi, the horse can experience shortness of breath, shallow breathing, a hacking cough, weakness, and lethargy. These indicators mean the horse does not have the core strength for a good level of endurance or performance.
Maintaining the Axis of Power
Acupressure is an excellent resource for both building equine endurance and maintaining health for performance. All horse athletes need to have a strong Lung and Kidney chi relationship. We can enhance the horse’s core strength by providing an acupressure session (see Axis of Power chart below) every fourth or fifth day along with their grooming regime.
We ask a lot of our horses and helping them sustain their core, internal strength is an important part of supporting their health and well-being. Every horse depends on its Axis of Power to live and be with you another day.