ACUPRESSURE: Pre & Post Performance
By Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow

It's show time! You are about to see if all your hard work pays off. One way to help your horse perform at his best is to continue his acupressure treatments and even give him special Pre-Performance and Post-Performance sessions. By simply using a handful of powerful acupressure points, you can improve your odds of success in the ring. In fact, you can double your chance of winning if you use the very same acupressure points on yourself.

The purpose of giving your horse a Pre-Performance treatment 30 minutes to an hour prior to a show is to help him relax and focus in a highly distracting environment. Some of the points selected for the treatment also can strengthen his muscles and tendons. For instance, GB 34, Yang Hill Mound, is the Influential Point for tendons. Thus, GB 34 can be used to strengthen the lower back and relax the muscles of the hindquarter. Another example is Pe 6, Inner Gate, a powerful point known to reduce anxiety while also balancing internal organs' energy.

After the performance you can reward your horse and yourself to a Post Performance treatment. The properties of the points selected for this treatment are intended to relax the body, relieve pain, and offer further strengthening. St 2, Four Whites, is a good example of a point that helps relax muscles and tendons and relieve pain throughout the body. St 2 is located in the depression approximately one to two inches directly below the pupil of the eye on both horse and human.

By using acupressure before and after your performances you will increase your chances of achieving your goals. Besides, win or lose, both you and your horse will be happier and healthier, so give it a try.

Start by finding a comfortable location for you and your horse where it is calm and where you both can relax. Slowly, take three even breaths in and out. Think about how you want to help your horse feel better; taking a moment to formulate the intent of your treatment is very important. Begin by resting one hand near your horse's shoulder. Using the heel of your other hand, place it at the poll and gently stroke down his neck, just off the midline. Continue stroking down to the hindquarters staying to the side of the midline. To finish, stroke down the outside of his leg to the coronary band. Your opposite hand can trail along the same path touching the horse lightly. Repeat this stroking procedure three times on each side of your horse.
Now you are ready for Point Work. Rest one hand on your horse wherever it is comfortable. You are going to perform the actual Point Work with the other hand. Use either the thumb or two-finger technique depending on what is most comfortable for you.

Thumb technique: Place the tip of your thumb directly on the acupressure point, also called "acupoint," and hold the point gently, but with intent, for about three to eight seconds.

Two-finger technique: Put your middle finger on top of your index finger and then place your index finger gently, but with intentional firmness, directly on the acupressure point for approximately three to eight seconds.

Use six to eight acupoints per acupressure session. Watch your horse's reaction to the point work. Healthy energy releases are: yawning, deep breathing, muscle twitches, release of air, and softening of the eye. If your horse is overly reactive to a particular point or exhibits a pain reaction, work the acupoint in front of the reactive point or behind it. Try that point again at a later session.

To complete your treatment session, rest your hand comfortably on his shoulder. Place the heel of your other hand just off his poll and stroke down his neck, over his back to his hindquarters, keeping your hand to the side of his spine and down the outside of his leg in exactly the same way you did to start the session. Your opposite hand can lightly trail along the same path as the working hand. Repeat this procedure three times on each side of your horse. It can take 24 hours for the effects of an acupressure treatment to be experienced. Occasionally, the initial issue can seem to be worse during that time before it resolves.

Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow are the authors of: Equine Acupressure: A Working Manual, The Well-Connected Horse: A Guide To Canine Acupressure, and, Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure. They own Tallgrass Publishers, which offers Meridian Charts for horses, dogs, and cats, plus Introducing Equine Acupressure, a 50-minute training video. Tallgrass Animal Acupressure provides training courses worldwide. To contact them - phone: 888-841-7211; web:; email: