Tui Na massage: Wouldn’t it be something if your horse could have a consistent, harmonious flow of stomach chi and could avoid colic, founder, stomach ulcers, and any other digestion issues horses are prone to have?
Wild horses roam and consume forage as they go. They eat small amounts of young, tender plants continuously throughout the day and some during the night. By being constantly on the move, they can avoid predators while also providing the internal motility needed for healthy digestion. Motility is essential for creating absorbable nutrients, necessary circulation, and excretion of waste.
With our domesticated horses, digestion faces challenges because it is difficult to replicate the optimal “wild horse” model of feeding and exercise. Although we can do all we can to provide turnout, quality grass hay, lots of water, adequate exercise, we still come up short in being able to support equine digestion adequately. Equine digestion was designed through a long and arduous evolutionary process that’s at odds with our modern way of life.
There are many avenues to glean information about your horse’s capacity to consume and digest forage. Scientists and other experts in nutrition offer new information and resources. There’s also an ancient Chinese approach to helping horses with their tricky digestion called “Tui Na,” which is acupressure-massage.
Tui Na Massage / Acupressure-Massage
Tui Na massage has been used with horses for thousands of years in China and has proven to enhance digestion. If these hands-on techniques were not beneficial for horses, these techniques would have dropped away centuries ago. From a Chinese medicine perspective, the goal is to create a harmonious and balanced flow of Stomach chi – life-promoting energy – to effectively break down forage into absorbable nutrients to nourish the body.
There’s a technique called “Mo Fa,” or “Circular Rubbing Technique,” that’s known to harmonize Stomach chi. Mo Fa entails gently and lightly placing your hand flat down on the horse’s body and moving your hand in a circular pattern while counting slowly to 60. To make Mo Fa particularly beneficial for digestion, apply Mo Fa on two specific acupressure points along the Bladder meridian. These two points, Bladder 20 and 21 (Bl 20 & 21) directly influence digestion when stimulated on both sides of the horse.
Another acupressure point known to support the harmonious flow of Stomach chi is Conception Vessel 12 (CV 12), also called “Ren 12.” Applying Mo Fa to CV 12 strongly encourages the entire digestion process.
The acupressure-massage technique Mo Fa, circular rubbing, gives you a powerful yet gentle way to support your horse’s ability to digest his food. When Stomach chi is good, horses are happy.
Mo Fa / Circular Rubbing
Gently place your palm flat on the surface of the horse’s body and rotate in a small clockwise circle. Rest you opposite hand comfortably on the horse.
Bladder 20 & Bladder 21 (Bl 20 & Bl 21) and Conception Vessel 12
With you palm flat down on the horse about 2-3 inches off his spine make small clockwise circles covering Bl 20 and around Bl 21 shown on the photograph chart. Bl 20 is located in the last space between the ribs. Bl 21 just behind the last rib.
For the Conception Vessel 12 (CV 12), with your palm flat gently rotate your hand directly on GV 12. This acupressure point is located on the ventral midline halfway between the xiphoid process (end of the sternum) and the umbilicus (belly button).
Learn how to use acupressure to treat a variety of conditions in Amy and Nancy’s other articles here on Animal Wellness Guide, in their hands-on and online courses, and in their books on canine, feline and equine acupressure: