Shiatsu treatment is done in the most comfortable environment for a specific horse. The most common place is a stall box for horses who are accustomed to being in the stall or outside in the paddock for horses who live outside in the open. The most important thing is that the horse is in his usual environment because only a relaxed horse will have most benefits from the tretment. The time of the day is not important as long as it does not collide with feeding time. Let's put it this way… a horse waiting for his oat is not in the best mood for receiving a treatment.
On the day of the treatment it is best that the horse doesn't go into training or that he does the training before the treatment (training in the morning, treatment in the afternoon). In that way the body gets the necessary time to rebalance itself, i.e. the energy can flow again freely, without disturbances. The day after the treatment the horse can continue with his training programme unless it is contraindicated by the vet.
The duration of the treatment varies, depending on horses needs. It usually lasts between 45 to 60 minutes.
During the treatment a shiatsu practitioner uses his hands, thumbs, fingers and sometimes elbows as his tools. Rotations, limb and neck stretches and tail stretches, i.e. stretches of the whole spine of the horse, are done as well as pressures on acupuncture points. The course of the treatment depends on the receiver and on the shiatsu practitioner, which makes every practitioner a kind of an artist. A horse never receives an identical treatment twice.
The goal of a shiatsu practitioner is not dealing with the symptoms and consequences although shiatsu can help ease them and sometimes eliminate them. His goal is to locate the imbalance and stimulate and balance the flow of energy, free the blockages and stimulate the natural healing force of the receiver. In this way a horse returns his natural balance. The horses who are prone to explosive behaviour become calmer and the ones who lack the drive become more energetic.
The question we often hear is: How many treatments does a horse need? There is no single answer to this question. As we said, shiatsu doesn't treat the symptoms. It treats the inner imbalance which is the cause of the symptoms. That is why the number of treatmensts depends on the horse and his general condition. Experience shows that the acute symptoms can be resolved after two or three treatments (sometimes after even just one!) while in chronic conditions treatments have to be repeated over a longer period of time. In other words, the longer it took for a problem to built up the longer it will take for it to resolve. So don't hesitate to react at the first symptom.
Can a horse receive the treatment if he doesn't have any problems/symptoms? Of course! Those horses are one of our best clients. Shiatsu acts as a good prevention because it deals with those little, invisible imbalances before the first symptoms even appear. We recommend this especially to sport horses who are expected to show results, who are exposed to everyday stress and strenuous trainings, travellings and competitions. They need extra care just as a professional athlete needs it to be in good shape. For sport horses we recommend one treatment a month on a regular basis.