Equine Chinese Medicine

Angel - the red hot redhead

Angel - the red hot redhead

Angel history

Angel is a 10y old paint mare with a history of
  • intermittent lameness
  • infrequent episodes of choke
  • bleeding from the nose when trailered
  • general anxiety and ‘mare-ish’ (aka ‘bitchy’) behaviour
  • cribber

She is a lead and dominant mare in the herd - in other words, a typical redhead

dominant mare

in terms of

• intermittent lameness = • Wind invasion, or lack of smooth flow of liver qi, poor hoof health
• infrequent episodes of choke =• Stomach invaded by liver, stomach heat
• bleeding from the nose when trailered =• Liver yang rising
• general anxiety and ‘mare-ish’ (aka ‘bitchy’) behaviour =• Liver qi stagnation
• cribber =• Anxiety, shen disturbance

TVCM exam

• Tongue: pink with some purple tinge on the sides (especially after trailering)• Stagnation of liver qi
• Pulse: rapid, wirey• Liver qi stagnation
• Sensitivity at the liver back shu point (Bl 18) =• Liver qi stagnation
• Ears: warm at the tips• Heat pattern
• Occassional anger/stubborn flare-ups• Liver yang rising
• Chiropractic: stiff in the lateral movement of the neck• Blockage in gall bladder meridian

tongue map

tcvm diagnosis

  • Liver qi stagnation
  • Liver invading the stomach
  • Liver yang rising

angel goals

  • smooth the movement of liver qi
  • Cool the stomach
  • Send liver qi down
All these are achieved by moving liver qi

acupuncture treatment

  • LI 1 : Jing Well point (metal)Forelimb lameness, shoulder pain, laminitis, sidebone, ring-bone, pharyngitis, soothe liver qi
  • LI 17: Laryngeal hemiplegia, sore throat, thyroid disorders, carpal pain, chronic distal forlimb pain, diagnostic point for carpal disease
  • ST 10 : Diagnostic point for the ipsilateral stifle, cough and dyspnea, local neck point
  • SI 1 : Jing-well point (metal) laminitis, sore throat, mastitis, fever, coma, shoulder pain.
  • SI 3 : Shu-Stream point (wood-mother), contusion, sprain, swelling of the fetlock, tendinitis of flexor tends, cervical stiffness, back pain, sore throat, shoulder lameness, laminitis, seizure, mania
  • Bl 13: Back Shu point for Lung, cough, heaves, asthma, tidal fever, sweat, nasal congestion
  • BL 18: Back-shu association point for the LIV, jaundice, eye problems, seizures, back pain
  • BL 23: Back-shu association point for Ki, urinary incontinence, impotence, edema, ear problems, back pain
  • PC 6: Luo-connecting point of the PC channel, master point for the chest/crainial abdomen, confluent point with the yin-wei channel, anxiety, insomnia, vomiting, nausea, headache, chest pain, palpitation, paralysis of forelimb, epilepsy
  • Liv 1: Jing well point (wood), side-bones, hernia
  • Liv 3: Shu-stream point (earth), Yuan-source point, liver qi stagnation, abnormal cycle, fetlock pain, paralysis of hind limb
  • GV 14 : cough, heaves, sweat, cervical stiffness, skin rash, seizures

herbal formula

  • Indications: irritability, red eyes, restless, hyperactive, liver qi stagnation with heat, wiry pulse, red/purple tongue
  • Principle of treatment: soothe liver qi, clear heat, resolve stagnation


  • Cyperus Xian Fu Zu: soothe liver, resolve stagnation
  • Citrus Qing Pi:move qi, soothe liver, resolve stagnation
  • Paeonia Bai Shao Yao: soothe liver
  • Saussurea Mu Xiang: Move qi
  • Mentha Bo He: Move qi
  • Buplereurum Chai Hu: soothe liver
  • Moutan Mu Dan Pi: cool liver
  • Gardenia Zhi Zi: clear heat
  • Angelica Dang Gui: move blood
  • Licorice Gan Cao: Harmonize

clinical response

The following was noted in the mare, Angel:
  • Reduced cribbing
  • Much more laid back attitude towards being handled, new situations and riding in general
  • Reduced episodes of anger flare ups
  • Stopped nose bleeds when trailering
  • No additional episodes of choke
  • Body condition improved
  • Lameness diminished considerably and is just occasionally seen if she is very emotionally stressed

Happy Angel

discussion angel

Angel is a “metal” horse that like routine, consistency and likes to be in charge. She is stressed by new situations and changes in her routine. This stress was manifest as shen disturbances (cribbing) and liver qi stagnation. The liver qi stagnation was manifest as a bitchy attitude, stomach heat (liver invading stomach) and nosebleeds under stress (liver yang rising).

Her intermittent lameness seemed to be associated with being asked to do new tasks (ring work, when she was previously a trail horse) and could be seen as a form of liver qi stagnation. The hoof is also and indicator of liver health. She also had neck pain that could have created discomfort in her lower limbs.

And she had small quarter-horse like feet that are prone to lameness. So the aetiology of her lameness could have been from several sources.

She responded well to acupuncture. Initially she was extremely needle sensitive. As she got used to AP she began to relax profoundly when she had a treatment.

She was treated with chiropractic and AP initially every 2w for 4 treatments. Then monthly for about 4 treatments. Currently she is seen about every 3 months.

Keeping Angel’s liver qi moving is essential to her health. After jump starting it with herbs and AP this is mostly managed now by maintaining a routine and giving her lots of exercise.

She eats Liver Happy daily in the winter 15 gm twice a day. In the winter she has turn out and stall time and is ridden in an arena.In the summer when she is continuously on pasture she does not need the herbal formula. Constant movement and ability to exert her own ‘free will’ keeps her liver qi moving well.

Angel does best when she is ridden regularly and has a variety of work types (trail and arena). She is a much more content horse now.

angel after treatment

Marsden, Steve and Susan Wynn. Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine. Missouri, USA: Mosby, 2003
Schoen, Allen, ed. Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine Second edition. Missouri, USA : Mosby, 2001
Schwartz, Cheryl. Four Paws Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs. California, USA: Celestial Arts Publishing, 1996
Xie, Huishing and Vanessa Preast. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Volume 1: Fundamental Principles. Beijing, China: Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics Printing House, 2005
Xie, Huisheng and Vanessa Preast. Xie’s Veterinary Acupuncture. Iowa, USA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007
Xie, Huisheng, ed by Vanessa Preast. Chinese Veterinary Herbal Handbook. Florida, USA: Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine, 2004

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