What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu is an acupressure technique of Asian origin which was developed more than 5000 years ago. The Japanese have in the course of time perfected many Chinese techniques and called it Shiatsu (finger pressure). Shiatsu has also been used successfully on horses in the last decades.Through Shiatsu, the energy pathways (meridians) are treated. These meridians are connected directly to the organs. Over the whole body muscles are loosened up and acupuncture points treated. This treatment calms and stimulates the self-healing of the body. Even after the first Shiatsu treatment of the horse a change in behaviour can be noticed. This is continued for some time and ultimately results in a significant physical and mental progress in the horse!

How does it work?

During the first Shiatsu treatment, the physical and mental condition of the horse is discussed with the owner. Current complaints may include stiffness, stress, behavioral problems, laminitis, anxiety/panic, indigestion, fatigue, head-shaking, skin problems, lethargy, colic, nervousness …

During a first treatment, the muscles (back, rump, neck, cheeks,…) are loosened up. Then, acupuncture points are worked on by hand or finger pressure to treat the meridians. After treatment it is best to keep the horse in the pasture for a couple of days. It is important that sufficient fresh water is available so that all the released toxins can be properly disposed of. This may cause some stiffness during the first day.

Following one or more Shiatsu sessions, the horse will begin to feel better and, therefore, perform better. It will find both physical and mental calm. The horse will be less tired, more relaxed and more flexible, and reach an improved blood flow and fitness level, etc.


The interval between the Shiatsu sessions depends on the symptoms. Generally the first treatments are done in rapid succession (every week). After that it is best to include treatments in the standard care plan for your horse. (like e.g. visiting a blacksmith) An ideal ‘maintenance rate’ is every 4 to 6 weeks. A few times a year is certainly not a luxury … your horse will thank you, the horse is indeed the most important part of the rider!


Shiatsu horses therapy at Equina, a school accredited by the BSF.