By Educational Partner: Amy Snow & Nancy Zidonis, Founders of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute
Your horse can’t verbalize how he is feeling, yet, if you pay attention, he is very good at indicating how his body feels. Muscle aches, stiffness, and pain impacts your horse’s attitude and performance.
Often muscle pain is a result of exercising beyond the horse’s level of conditioning. This can result in the horse being sore all over his body. In general, indicators of simple sore muscles can present as a shortened, stiff gait, over-sensitivity to grooming, reluctance to train, and possibly a poor or depressed attitude.
There are a few acupressure points, also called “acupoints,” known to help avoid and relieve muscle soreness. There’s one particular point that is specifically for tendon and muscle issues called Gall Bladder 34 (GB 34). It is considered the Influential point for tendons and muscles because it improves the flow of energy and blood to these soft tissues. While nourishing tendons and muscles, GB 34 also removes toxin build-up especially after exercise, hence reducing the possibility of lactic acid causing painful stagnation in the horse’s muscles
You can stimulate GB 34 prior to training as well as after to help your horse’s muscles perform comfortably. An added benefit of offering your horse even this single acupoint is this additional nourishing energy and blood flow to his muscles and tendons will strengthen his muscles while keeping them supple and flexible.
NOTE: This article is only referring to simple muscle soreness. If you suspect your horse has sustained an injury or is experiencing tying-up*, please consult your veterinarian immediately for his/her recommendation. Or, if your horse does recover from what you thought was a simple sore muscle within a few days; consult your veterinarian to avoid any long-term issues.
*Tying-Up is a complex syndrome, aka “exertional rhabdomyolysis,” characterized by varying degrees of stiffness, sweats, and inability to move. It most often occurs after strenuous exercise followed by inactivity and seems to be more common in certain equine breeds. It is a very serious condition and a veterinarian must be consulted quickly.