I was standing at the bookstore checkout line behind a woman and her dog at Christmas.
Her beautifully groomed dog was standing upright at the counter beside her like a person as she paid for her books. After a moment I thought, "There's only one person who would have such an amazing dog" and sure enough, it was Jennifer Hoegerman, a long-term flower essence client and friend who I hadn't seen in about five years.
As we talked she said she'd bought our new book Floral Acupuncture - Applying the Flower Essences of Dr. Bach to Acupuncture Sites. Jennifer is an emergency room nurse, wife and mother, and owner of a beautiful hand-built home and barns where she keeps her four horses - a mile down the road from where I live.
She said that she's been translating the treatments in our book to the horse acupressure charts and planned to begin giving her horses floral acupuncture treatments. After agreeing to let me be present at very first treatments on her horse, Emmet, Oliver her dog, who was still standing up at the counter, was presented with his usual dog biscuit by the bookstore staff.
On a sunny morning in February 2006, I arrived at Jennifer's typical California wine country property on a bluff overlooking rolling hills with fresh sea air from the ocean. The first thing I wanted to do was to see her tortoises, some of which she's had for thirty years- who she puts to sleep every winter in newspaper in boxes in her barn - and learn if the warm weather had woken them up yet for spring. The horses were waiting so I had to miss this treat.
Jennifer and I had conferred on the phone the day before about doing the first horse Floral Acupuncture treatment (ever, as far as I know) on Emmet. As she told me his biography it became clear to me that he needed Agrimony flower essence, located on Pericardium 6.
Here is a photo of Agrimony growing a few miles from where Emmet lives near the California coast. It's most resonant acu-site- Pericarium 6 ("Inner Frontier Gate") connects the Pericarium or Heart Protector to the Triple Warmer Meridian. Using this Floral Acupuncture treatment opens your heart and creates warmth for social interactions with others.
Emmet is a an American Quarter Horse horse, a breed that is usually stoic and more heavily muscled than other horses. From ages two to seven, Emmet was a reiner in horse reining competitions, a type of horse display that involves spinning and sliding. His father, Topsail Cody, was one of the most famous reining horses in the world. Emmet's hock joints on his back legs were injured and he was retired to pasture for three years until he came to Jennifer in June 2005. Now at age ten, Jennifer feels that Emmet has emotions that he withholds or doesn't make available to humans.
Jennifer agreed that Emmet needed Agrimony flower essence and said that in fact, the acu-site for Pericardium 6 was the first location she had learned on the horse acuppressure chart. She had also already tried out this location on Emmet a few days earlier by touching these areas, and had noted that he accepted this, though in general he doesn't particularly like to be touched. From her study of horse acupressure she said that Pericardium 6 is know to be an excellent calming point for a horse.
The first thing Jennifer did with Emmet was to hold his head with both hands and to gently bring it downwards. This "bowing" creates trust in the horse with his human partner. She repeated this several times until she felt he was ready for the treatment.
The horse acupressure maps used for these treatments are those of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. The first application of Agrimony to Pericardium 6 located left/ right in the inner front legs above the knees was done by placing the stock dilution of Agrimony from the bottle into Jennifer's hands and applying it manually in an attempt to permeate under the horse hair to the skin. We decided that a better application is the soaking of a cotton ball with stock dilution as a of way of reaching the epidermal of the skin. Stock dilution application - rather than diluting the essence in water - felt more appropriate for the large and muscled body of a horse.
After applying, Jennifer stood next to Emmet and held the Pericardium 6 points for a period of about 30 minutes (only certified acupuncturists may apply needles to a horse. The lay practitioner applies horse acupuncture treatments by acupressure and holding the points as Jennifer does here.) Emmet demonstrated the typical results of a successful horse acu-treatment by subtle licking and chewing as well as twitching with his mouth. This twitching looked more like a gentle quavering of his mouth - as if his whole body was feeling the vibrational effects of the application. He also showed the second visual demonstration of a successful treatment through the lowering of his head as well as the changing of his eyelids to half-masked.
As Jennifer continued to hold the paired Pericardium 6 points, Emmet went through four sessions of this relaxed state with about 3 minute intervals between each one.
I returned the next week to apply the second floral acupuncture treatment to Emmet. I put one teaspoon of stock dilution of Agrimony flower essence in a bowl and Jennifer applied the solution with a cotton ball to the paired Pericardium 6 points. Emmet remained calm however it was obvious that he had already absorbed what he had needed from the Agrimony on the first application.
Unlike the first treatment when he demonstrated an altered state with deep calm and a half-glazed look over an extended time period, this time he moved a bit and showed a lack of interest in the treatment. Jennifer said: "I would have been surprised if the treatment had been needed again since out in the field with him this last week, I saw the changes I would have expected with Agrimony, along the 'relax and open your heart' lines. He used to be 'cut off'. I feel from his eyes and his whole aura that he's now here - he's participating since the first treatment. His previous stoic attitude 'I don't need anybody' is melting."
We put Emmet back into the field and Jennifer brought Sheba, her California Desert tortoise out of the hibernation box for me to see. (Sheba is still sleeping in this picture at right.)
Back in Jennifer's kitchen we discussed further floral acupuncture treatments for Emmet. Her teacher had pointed out certain physical features in Emmet that indicated Gall Bladder/ Liver and Spleen accupressure treatments might be helpful. I suggested Honeysuckle on Lung 3, "Heavenly Palace" to release Emmet's past success as a reining horse and eventual retirement. I sensed a definite longing and sadness in Emmet and I've noticed with people in this state that until Honeysuckle is used, further progress is often blocked. The horse acu-chart doesn't show a location for Lung 3 so Jennifer will continue Emmet's floral acu-treatments by using the meridian source point Lung 9, shown on the Equine Accupressure Chart, for applying Honeysuckle.
Jennifer's kitchen table is next to a large tiled open alcove where her Mexican Redhead parrot named Pepper lives. As I got ready to leave she told me: "For twenty- three years Pepper lived in this alcove with our cockatiel, Pumpkin. Pumpkin was always ailing and for all those years Pepper hovered over Pumpkin but never spoke himself. When Pumpkin finally died last year, two days later, Pepper started chattering and talking. For twenty-three years Pepper had been a dull gray color. When he started expressing himself - his feathers turned brilliant irridescent green."
Deborah Craydon is a FES certified flower essence practitioner. Co-author of Floral Acupuncture - Applying the Flower Essences of Dr.Bach to Acupuncture Sites (Crossing Press 2005) she is also the producer of Flora Corona Vibrational Elixirs (www.floracorona.com). To learn more about floral acupuncture including case studies in this modality go online to www.floralacupuncture.com.