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Shiatsu and osteopathy for horses with sweet itch

The Natural Way - specialized in itching and skin complaints and the natural treatment of horses with sweet itch, mud fever and CPL. 

In this blog series 'Alternative therapies for sweet itch' I would like to give the stage to experts who provide holistic support to horses with sweet itch. 

In this article I introduce Tine Indekeu from Sana Equorum who talks about Shiatsu and osteopathy.

Acupressure and Osteopathy in horses with summer eczema and itching, Tine Indekeu Sana Equorum, Laura Cleirens The Natural Way

© Tine Indekeu - Sana Equorum

Shiatsu and osteopathy for sweet itch

What is osteopathy?

In osteopathy we recognize 'osteo' (bone) and 'pathos' (disease). From this term you could conclude that an osteopath only treats the bones, but nothing could be further from the truth. As an osteopath I look at the overall picture of a horse's body. Although the spine, pelvis and head play a central role in treatment, other structures are also involved in the treatment. Just think of organs, muscles, nervous system and fascia (connective tissue).
The complete body is assessed and loosened step by step, so that a good flow of all body fluids can take place. The good substances bring recovery and the waste products are removed better.

Osteopathy, Shiatsu, acupressure and acupuncture all have the same goal: looking at the horse as a whole and striving for balance.

What is Shiatsu?

Where with osteopathy I mainly work with what is visible and palpable to the naked eye, with Shiatsu I work more on the energy and the meridian network in the body to create a healthy balance.

All organs, senses, body parts and tissues are nourished and supported by the transport of Qi (life energy) and the blood that flows through the meridian network. The purpose of these meridians is to strengthen the body against external attacks. The skin and body hair are the first line of defense against weather conditions, insects, trauma, stress, loss,...

Through meridian theory we can support the body to better cope with external attacks and strengthen the skin and coat.

When the harmony and flow in the body is interrupted by external factors, several symptoms can occur:

  • Itching and sensitivity of skin, muscles and tissue
  • Changes in tissue blood flow (cold and warm places)
  • Mood swings
  • Stallion problem
  • Lameness
  • Poor support
  • Refusal, stable vices and other 'naughty' behavior (which your horse actually wants to tell you something)
  • ...

If complaints persist, it is always recommended to first contact a veterinarian for a correct diagnosis. Osteopathy and/or Shiatsu can then be used in a complementary manner.

How do I proceed during treatment?

During a consultation, I will first help you put together a healthy, tailor-made diet for your horse. 'You are what you eat' I always say, and this also applies to our animals. A switch to a healthy feeding policy can take quite some time.

Kinesiological testing is used to find out what your horse has too much of or is allergic to. It is very important to remove all waste products such as excess sugars, medication, polluted water, etc. from the body so that they are not stored in the liver, lymph or fascia. These accumulations of waste can become visible in the mane comb and/or at the base of the tail, making horses attractive victims for insects and causing the skin to react extra sensitively.

During an Acupressure/Shiatsu/Cranio treatment, additional support is provided by using specific acupuncture points to help remove certain waste products. This is often in combination with aromatherapy to give an extra boost. My treatment consists of looking at the cause and not just the symptoms. Magnets can also be applied to give a further effective result. And as a customer of mine, you are always given homework to help you get started yourself. You will not only improve the quality of your horse, but you will also create a stronger, deeper bond.

The importance of healthy intestinal flora

A second important point in the fight against sweet itch is tackling digestion. Especially intestinal health. The intestines form a barrier through which substances the body needs can pass. If this barrier is out of balance, any bad substances can penetrate the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream, throwing the skin out of balance.
Frequent use of medications such as antibiotics can also damage the intestinal wall, resulting in a disturbance. Even when a mare is pregnant, administration of medication can be passed on to the foal. A disturbance occurs here when antibiotics kill various bacteria, including good bacteria, which are necessary for the intestines to function optimally.

Tips during the sweet itch season

If the skin is already reacting, it is best to start using external care products. I can highly recommend Zomereczeem lotion from The Natural Way and it has already helped some of my customers very well. I have also found that rubbing the underside of the tail with the lotion gives a very relaxing and soothing feeling. Furthermore, in my experience it is best to apply a fly or eczema blanket to limit further insect attacks.

During the hot summer days, you probably sweat sometimes. I recommend rinsing your horse off after work with a sponge and a spritz of organic, non-toxic fly spray, then letting it roll in the sand. The sand layer provides extra natural protection against mosquitoes and other parasites. You can then easily apply the Zomereczeem lotion.


Discover our 100 % natural Zomereczeem lotion, Mok olie, CPL olie, Natuur Shampoo and OERVOER (E-book) about healthy nutrition for itch-sensitive horses HERE.


This article was published on The Natural Way by
Laura Cleirens - 2022.03.01
Latest update: 2023.12.28

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