Putting it all together
Now that you have learned about the Four Exams and the various point classifications it is time to put it all together and formulate a plan for your acupressure session. In all cases you will start with the Four Exams so that you have a clear idea of what is going on with the horse at the time of your session.
There are a variety of ways to select points and we will present a number of them here and delve more deeply into them at the practical.
1. Assess the Back Shu (Association) points and the Front Mu (Alarm) points. The Back Shu points can indicate a local issue, a meridian issue or an organ system issue. In some cases sensitivity along some of the Back Shu points may be due to saddle fit or other issues related to tack or rider imbalance. By adding in the Front Mu points we can assess if the issue has moved deeper into the body. Since the Front Mu points are located beneath or adjacent to the organ they are related to, sensitivity on them may indicate that there is some organ involvement. Based on these findings you can then prioritize the issues going on and choose points for the session. Both the Back Shu and Front Mu points can be part of the session, or you may choose to go with other points along the related channels or ones with energetics that can help with the issues.
2. You may opt to select points based on their classification. For example, if the horse is having low back and hind end issues you may want to add in BL 40 since it is the Master point for this region of the body. Or if the horse just had dental work done you might want to select LI 4 since it is the Master point for the face and mouth and perhaps you would also include BL 11 in the session since it is the Influential point for Bone. (In TCM, teeth are seen as an extension of bone.)
3. You may choose to use some of the suggested points in Chapter 5 for common equine conditions. These are points that other practitioners and veterinarians have found to work well for these conditions. Often the points are a mixture of local and distal points. This is sometimes a good way to start out if you are feeling overwhelmed with too many options. As you practice and gain confidence you will add in points of your own that you find to help with these conditions.
4. You may choose to work points along a particular channel if you notice that many of the presenting issues seem to all be along one meridian. For example, a horse that presents with TMJ discomfort, a history of ulcers and some stifle instability might lead you to want to work Stomach points. In particular, ST 7 would be a good local point for TMJ, ST 36 would be a good local point for the stifle and then ST 45, the Jing-well point would be good for balancing the entire meridian. You might also add in a few other points such as LI 4 as the Master point for face and mouth to help with the TMJ and also GB 34 the Influential point for tendons and ligaments to help with the stifle instability, and it is a local stifle point as well.
5. You may want to identify the issue as an excess or deficiency and then determine which of the Zang-Fu organs is involved and use some of the points found in Chapter 2. For example, if you determined the horse had a Spleen Qi deficiency because he had some diarrhea, loss of muscle mass and general fatigue you might opt to use ST 36, SP 6, SP 3, UB 20, UB 23 and REN 4.
6. You may want to identify which element or elements seem to be out of balance and use points based on this. Perhaps the horse recently became angry after hurting his deep flexor tendon on the right hind leg and is now on stall rest with some yellow discharge from his right eye. You might determine this was primarily an imbalance in the Wood element and opt to use LIV 2 (sedation point on the Liver channel) to help get rid of some of this pent up frustration. You could then also use LIV 3 the Yuan Source point for the Liver channel, GB 34 the Influential point for tendons and ligaments and perhaps BL 18 the Back Shu point for the Liver. (You might start with the Back Shu point, as it is probably the safest point to start with since it is along the back. With Liver issues, especially Liver Qi stagnation the horse may not want you around his hind legs initially.)
As you can see, there are many possible ways to mix and match points. As you become more and more familiar with the points, you will be able to pick and choose based on your own experiences.