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FIVE ELEMENT THEORY and EQUINE SHIATSU

At the heart of traditional Oriental medicine is the theory of the Five Elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. It is more accurate to speak of Five Phases as it gives a better understanding of the fact that the Elements are inter-related and affect each other energetically, as shown in th diagram shown on the right.

The Five Phases can be used to describe the season of the year, life from birth to death or even from early morning through brightness of the afternoon to the darkness of night. We all move through all of these Phases, or Elements, all of the time.

However, we are all born with our basic Element and much of this comes from our genetics – height, bone structure, hair colour and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it also helps us to understand our emotional make-up and how we will react in different circumstances. On a physical level, we are more likely to abuse the meridians associated with our basic Element.

In Equine Shiatsu, practitioners can use Five Element theory to help owners to understand their horses, what kind of routine would best suit their horse and how to get the best out of their relationship.
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FIRE HORSE

Fire horse
Fire horses are the “beautiful people”. Physically, they are usually quite pretty, but always eye-catching and while they can have good musculature, they tend to be finer or more delicate than a Wood or Water horse. They adore attention and are often very friendly to both people and other horses – life is one big party! They are playful and sociable and love to be with others.

Fire horses like an audience and to show off, so any discipline that makes them the centre of attention will be good for them. As a competition horse, dressage, showjumping or in the show ring, they will rise to the occasion even if not feeling their best.

They like to play games and can become dispirited or bored, if these “jokes” are not acknowledged. If you won’t play with them, then they won’t play with you, which will lead to imbalances in the Fire energy. This can manifest itself as an explosion or conversely, the Fire goes out and the horse becomes inattentive or even depressed.
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EARTH HORSE

Earth horse
Earth horses are safe, reliable and dependable. They represent security and support. An Earth horse is grounded. When under stress, this horse is likely to comfort eat and so food has an important part in its life. Earth horses like to be comfortable and working too hard is not appreciated and so they are often quite well rounded

This lack of physical exertion makes them good horses for leisure and novice riders, or they can make ideal brood mares.

Because being grounded is at the centre of an Earth horse, when stressed they can become too grounded which is often described as stubborn. Under the physical symptom of either not eating, or over-eating, the mental imbalance is over-thinking (anxiety or worry) and many horses that eat too much, are prone to weight gain and appear disinterested in everything but food are hiding a deep anxiety.
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METAL HORSE

Metal horse
Metal horses are associated with strength and accuracy. Metal is precise and as such rules and regulations are important to a Metal horse. These horses are often very polite as it’s against the rules and regulations to bite, kick or show extreme behaviour and therefore the communications are much more subtle and you will have to be very much aware of what the horse is telling you.

Metal horses make good all-rounders but tend not be brilliant as there is always a limit or boundary which they will not cross. They are physically more angular to look at than others of their breed and many horses are found in a Metal phase as they become limited by injury or old age Mentally, horses in a Metal condition may become defensive or may withdraw and become very introverted.
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WATER HORSE

Water horse
Water horses flow. They have good bone structure and easy flowing, effortless movement. Their musculature is good and they usually have good conformation which makes them attractive to look at. They can appear to be quite laid back as when water meets an obstacle, it’s usually easiest just to flow around it rather than fight. However, it can be a tsunami and smash its way through without thought to destruction or personal injury. But whatever happens, it will MOVE – forwards, backwards, away and so the negative side to these horses is that they can be fearful. They can often take a long time to gain trust in their owner but once this is established, they can do anything but if you try to rush them or push them through a situation then they will run, both physically and mentally.

Once you have gained that trust, this kind of horse will be good in any sphere but because of their good bone structure, they make good endurance horses, show horses and dressage horses.
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WOOD HORSE

Wood horse
Wood horses have that never-say-die quality. Wood is constantly growing, spreading and looking for ways to move on. Physically Wood horses have great musculature, self-confidence and an air of purpose. They are very competitive and know where they are going and how they are going to get there. The negative side of this is that if they become hindered or prevented from doing what they want, or if they think that people are not listening, they can become angry, frustrated and even aggressive.

Wood horses make great competition horses. They will go that extra mile, drive themselves harder and with their natural self-confidence, know that they are good at their job and do not need an adoring public to give reassurance and so while they will make good show jumpers etc, they also excel out on the cross country course, endurance ride or similar. Many Wood horses will become good schoolmasters to younger riders – as long as the rider does not dictate to the horse.
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