Hands on Horses School of Equine Shiatsu

About Equine Shiatsu


Hands-on-Horses offers training in an acupressure based therapy that could improve not only the well being of the horse, but could also enhance your own lifestyle.

Equine Shiatsu

Shiatsu practice and training has been in the UK for around 25 years. During that time, Shiatsu practitioners and teachers have emerged who are also enthusiastic horsemen and women - as well as practitioners and teachers whose enthusiasm for Shiatsu has led them to extend their practice to horses and other animals.

Empathetic touch has long been a companion to good and effective horsemanship. The recent surge of interest in things 'natural' for the horse suggests that many keen horse lovers consider that there are aspects of accepted methods of horsecare that have consequences detrimental to the horse. They are searching for alternative ways of addressing equine well being.

Equine Shiatsu owes a debt of gratitude to the early pioneers of equine bodywork. Included in these are Nancy Zidonis and Amy Shaw, and also Pamela Hannay whose courses attracted the interest of horsepeople as well as Shiatsu practitioners in the UK. Shiatsu for horses was a movement whose time had come.

As a result of these various threads of interest, there now are many well-established practitioners of equine Shiatsu in the UK. There is also a UK-based professional body, the Equine Shiatsu Association [tESA]. The Association is active in promoting standards of ethical and working practice.

What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu therapy originated in Japan, and is a way of working both with and on the body. Shiatsu has variously been described as Japanese physiotherapy, acupuncture without needles, and an acupressure massage system - yet these descriptions do not fully describe the unique techniques or the concepts of how Shiatsu is considered to work.

A Shiatsu practitioner uses a judicious combination of movement and body weight to create the effect of pressure, stretch, and gentle joint manipulation. It can have profound results, which some people consider to be primarily a consequence of stress relief, and others consider to be from re-balancing of the body's energy.

A keyword here is balance. The Oriental model considers that all living beings have energy flowing through them and that an imbalance of this flow causes discomfort, distress, and disease. This energy is called chi [pronounced 'chee': from the Chinese expression], or ki [pronounced 'Kee': from the Japanese]. Energy imbalance can manifest physically: as in for example, stiff joints - or behaviorally: e.g. 'bargy' around food. The imbalances can be caused by intrinsic factors due to, for example, constitution, or extrinsic factors such as trauma. A Shiatsu practitioner aims to re-balance the energy of the body.

Shiatsu might generally be regarded as a complementary therapy, as opposed to an alternative therapy which by definition is applied in place of specific conventional veterinary treatments. Whilst changes in the horse's condition through the application of Shiatsu might indicate an improvement, the therapy is also valuable in the context of palliative care and can be applied safely and usefully alongside other forms of treatment without fear of conflict or interference.