Pericardium 6 - Calm your horse with one of Diana's favorite points
A strong calming point, Pericardium 6 (PC6 ) “Nei Guan” comes in handy for equine massage, training and behavioral influence.
While Western medicine focuses primarily on the physical body, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) seeks to balance both the physical and the emotional/spiritual aspects of each person or animal. This tradition gives us acupressure points that have the specific function of calming the horse. They are known for their ability to do what is called settle the shen, the shen being the spirit of the horse. I use acupressure on these points at the beginning or during a body work session, ground work or riding lesson to relax the horse.
One of my favorite calm-the-spirit points is Pericardium 6 (PC 6). The Chinese name for the point is Nei Guan (Nay gwan) which means inner gate or the inner gateway. Acupressure on this point allows us to reach the horse’s energetic and physical heart. This means the point has a very strong calming influence on the horse. It’s also used to help the horse with physical heart issues.
In addition to calming the horse very quickly, acupressure on Pericardium 6 has other important influences. Pericardium 6 is the master point for the chest and the upper abdomen. As such, the point can be used to relieve muscular tension in the chest and open the lungs for deep, relaxed breathing (this helps the cinchy horse and those with tight shoulders.) The point also improves digestion. You can use it to prevent colic and, in conjunction with veterinary medical help, help relieve colic.
In TCM, all acutely painful conditions are due to stagnation of the energy of the body (called qi) and the blood. Acupressure on Pericardium 6 relieves pain by prompting the stagnant or stuck qi and blood to move. This function makes the point an effective and safe choice to use on the horse with painful muscular issues, injuries or overall muscular tension.
How To Do Acupressure:
The acupressure point technique used for Pericardium 6 is simple. Just smooth your fingers down the inside of the horse’s front leg until the flat pads of your middle three fingers rest just in front of the chestnut on the point location (see Photo 1). Hold steady light pressure on the area for one to two minutes (or longer if the horse becomes deeply quiet).
Photo One: Pericardium 6 is located on the skin and hair just in front of the chestnut. The chestnut is the scaly growth of tissue on the horse’s inner (medial) foreleg just above the knee.
For safety, place your other hand on the outside of the horse’s leg or shoulder (see Photo 2). Quiet yourself by focusing on your breath. Use deep, regular abdominal breathing. Pay attention to the horse’s body language and the sensation underneath your fingers.
Photo Two: Diana applies acupressure to Pericardium 6. She stands next to the horse’s shoulder facing forward. She reaches in from behind the front leg to rest her fingers on the point. For safety, she holds the outside of the leg with her other hand.
Because of Pericardium 6’s calming influence, most horses go into a deep sleep state fairly quickly. The horse may lower his head and neck and deepen his breathing. You may see blinking or closing of the horse’s eyes, quivering of the muzzle, yawning and other signs of relaxation. The horse often focuses inwardly, letting go of looking at things in the surrounding area. In general, the horse’s muscles will begin to relax. If the horse relaxes with acupressure on Pericardium 6, repeat the process on the point’s location on the opposite leg.
You can also try doing acupressure on Pericardium 6 and Pericardium 9 at the same time (see Photo 3). Pericardium 9, the ting or jing well point of the Pericardium Channel, is between the heel bulbs of the horse’s front feet. Because of this location, the horse needs to stand still for you to work on it. Some horses prefer you place your fingers only on Pericardium 6, others go into a deeper sleep state when you do acupressure on Pericardium 6 and 9 at the same time.
Photo Three: Diana squats down to do acupressure on Pericardium 6 and Pericardium 9 at the same time. If the horse and your surroundings are quiet, you may be safe sitting on a stool while you work on these points.
If the horse becomes restless while you do acupressure on Pericardium 6 he is probably feeling stagnant qi moving. In this case, the horse might move away from your fingers, paw, bite his leg to itch the area or nip at you. You might feel a zippy, electrical, and otherwise uncomfortable sensation in your fingers.
In this case, respect the horse’s reaction. Don’t hold your fingers on the point for very long. Try stroking down the inner foreleg just above the point and touching the area of the point for only several seconds at a time. You may need to switch to another point. Gall Bladder 21, located in the crease where the horse’s neck meets his shoulder, is a good choice in this situation.