What is Reiki and How Can it Help Your Horse?

What is Reiki and How Can it Help Your Horse?

Reiki (pronounced ráy-key) is an ancient form of Japanese energy healing. The Reiki practitioner channels universal life force energy to the being (human or animal) in need of healing. This can be done by placing hands on the being; it can also be done across distance, with no physical contact.

There appears to have been a steady increase of interest in Reiki over the past few years, especially among animal lovers. This is wonderful news because animals are very open to this type of healing; they don’t question whether it is really possible to channel healing energy, they just gratefully accept it.

There also appear to be quite a few misconceptions about Reiki. One is that Reiki is a type of massage. It is of course possible to combine Reiki with massage. But Reiki itself has nothing to do with massage. I do most of my Reiki sessions with animals across distance, never touching their bodies at all.

Another misconception is that Reiki can only used to balance a person’s or animal’s energy. Reiki is most definitely used in this way, but it has many other uses as well. The practitioner can use Reiki to assist with emotional and spiritual healing, which we look at in future columns, and for physical healing, which we will take a look at this month.

Let me start out by saying that reputable Reiki practitioners do not diagnose illness. I periodically get calls from distraught animal owners who tell me their horse (or dog or cat) is ill and they don’t know why and they don’t know what to do. My answer is always the same: Call your veterinarian. This is because Reiki practitioners are not veterinarians and are not qualified to diagnose disease or the effects of physical injury.

However, Reiki is a powerful healing modality and an extremely effective complement to veterinary medicine.

Here’s a story. Some years ago, I arrived at the barn where my horse was boarded and found the owner in a frantic call to her vet. Her mare had been in the pasture enjoying the beautiful summer day when she’d suddenly begun violently shaking. The woman, I’ll call her Anne, had brought her horse into the barn, noticed that the horse’s gums were white, took her temperature, which was elevated by three or four degrees, and immediately called the vet.

When Anne got off the phone, I asked if she wanted me to give her horse Reiki while she waited for the vet. She did. I went into the stall with Anne and gently placed my hands on her horse. Within 30 seconds, the horse had stopped shaking; within a minute, the color had returned to her gums. After several minutes, Anne took her horse’s temperature again, and it had dropped two degrees.

The veterinarian arrived a short time later, examined the mare, and treated her. No one was ever sure what exactly had triggered the episode. But Anne and I-and I’m sure her mare-were grateful that the Reiki had so quickly treated the shock and lowered the elevated temperature.

Here’s another story. My horse, Nikos, had gotten a tetanus shot, and the next day he had a baseball sized knot at the injection site. The barn owner (different barn) was mucking stalls, and so I was talking to her while I held my hand over the knot, channeling Reiki but not paying much attention, just passing the time on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

After a few minutes, I noticed that the knot felt smaller under my hand. I moved my hand, and sure enough, the knot had shrunk by about two-thirds. I couldn’t quite believe this myself, and so I said to the barn owner, “Hey, Sue, take a look at this. Is the knot smaller, or am I just imagining things?”

I’d only been at Sue’s barn for a week, and she hadn’t known much about Reiki up to that point, but when her mouth fell open in disbelief and she softly demanded to know how I’d done that, I figured she was seeing the same results I was. (This incident so convinced her of the power of Reiki that she went on to take both my Level I and Level II Reiki class!)

Reiki can also be used to relieve the symptoms of stomach upset or colic (while you’re waiting for the vet), to reduce pain and swelling from overexertion, and to accelerate the healing process after any injury or surgery. A few years ago, my horse Nikos stepped on my little dog Elika and dislocated her wrist. The veterinarian told me it was a bad dislocation and that she might never be totally sound. In any event it would take several months to heal. With daily Reiki, Elika was charging around at top speed in two weeks, completely sound.

Reiki can also be used to help alleviate the physical stress of chronic illness. I have worked with many dogs and cats suffering with cancer, and have found that the Reiki alleviates their pain, increases their appetite, diminishes their depression, and increases their energy. Reiki is also believed to shrink tumors, and I believe I have experienced this phenomenon as well.

In short, Reiki can be used to alleviate pain, swelling, and discomfort associated with any illness or injury and can dramatically accelerate the healing process. Reiki is non-invasive, non-toxic, and can be used in conjunction with any other healing modality. To be honest, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Next month, we’ll take a look at how Reiki can be used for emotional healing.

Until next month,

Be well,


*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in August 2006.

© 2006 by Pamela Sourelis