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Poll to Pastern, A Beginning with Acupressure

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

It was love at first sight when I was introduced to horses and my first true love was with a horse named Blackie. He was the horse I couldn’t wait to come see, ride and love every day after school for many years. Tragically, he unexpectedly fell ill. His all too soon passing broke my heart, but the gift of love he gave me still lasts to this day. It was from then on I knew I wanted to help horses live healthy lives so no one else would have to go through what I went through.

young horseback rider on horse
Our owner, Stephanie, on her first horse!

To start my journey, I first received my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science Specializing in Equines from the University of Florida. This opened the doors for me to have profession within the equine industry. At first, I decided to be a trail guide and teach people about horses, the land, and some cheesy jokes. While this was enjoyable, I still craved to give back to these beautiful creatures. Thinking back to my time at UF, I remembered taking an equine health and management course. During the course we had several guest speakers come and talk to us. One speaker talked about both acupuncture and acupressure. I knew right then that learning acupressure was the next step I needed to take along my journey to achieving my dream of helping horses.

Acu-what? Acupuncture and acupressure! These are two holistic practices that originate from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Although a certain date is not specified, TCM has been around for thousands of years. Yes, that’s right, I said thousands! Evidence of tools used in acupuncture date back to about 10,000 years ago. Both acupressure and acupuncture aim to create balance in the body by restoring, replenishing and maintaining its own natural harmony for optimal body function and performance. It can be used as a preventative care and complimentary care but it is not a substitute for veterinary medicine.

traditional Chinese medicine cupping, acupuncture needles
TCM has been used for thousands of years and continues to be used today.

Chi or Qi is in all living things. It is the life force that flows through both animals and humans. Chi can be accessed via meridians on the body (click here to learn more about chi). There are 12 major meridians and 2 extraordinary meridians on the body, with each of the 12 meridians being found on both sides of the animal. The 2 extraordinary meridians are found on the ventral and dorsal midline of the body. Each of the meridians has their own acu-points, which have their own energetic and functional benefits. These points can be found in depressions between muscles, bones, tendons and joints.

It is the on these points where the practitioner can access the chi via either acupressure or acupuncture. An assessment of the animal (visual, history, smells/sounds, physical touch) is the foundation of equine acupressure sessions. This will give insight and clues to help the practitioner understand which meridian is out of balance or where a blockage of chi may be present. From here, the practitioner can decide which points would benefit the client the most during that session.

An Acupuncturist would then use sterile needles a little thicker than a strand of hair to penetrate the skin at the selected acu-points to relieve conditions. While an acupressurist would use gentle, non-invasive, finger pressure to the skin. Although there is a distinctive difference in the two holistic practices, it is very important to know that both methods have been used for thousands of years and have been researched throughout its time.

acupuncture and acupressure on humans and animals
The images to the left demonstrate acupuncture and the image to the right demonstrates acupressure.

At Poll to Pastern, we strive for the highest education and certification possible for the profession. Each of the practitioners are trained and certified at an accredited equine acupressure school as well as nationally certified by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM). This means we can provide our equine acupressure services anywhere in the nation.

national board of certification for animal acupressure and massage

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