It's Elementary - The Metal Element

Competent Companion

Imagine a perfectly clean horse, elegant and lean, moving slowly into the dressage arena. His movement is precise and controlled, yet powerful. He is focused and ready for business. As the rider signals to begin, the horse moves out with grace and impressive ability. He executes each move correctly and methodically with a quiet determination. His rider, also intensely focused, is not flashy or showy, just very, very competent. As they leave at the end, you can see how the two feel calmly confident about their work. The rider gives the horse a gentle quiet pat and the horse breathes deeply in satisfaction at a job well done. This is our Metal horse.

Hard at work

As we move on to Metal, we see that both the Earth and the Metal animals are even tempered, sensible, reliable and calm, but what motivates them is completely different. Let’s start with the horses. The easy-going Earth horse’s greatest ambition is to have a lazy afternoon in a lush pasture; the Metal horse thrives on hard work and mental challenge. Whether it is a rigorous dressage lesson for a Metal horse in his prime or the weekly task of ferrying youngsters around the ring for a “retired elder, Metal horses need a job to feel productive and useful. The Metal horse is easy to train because he is smart, eager to learn and willing to work hard. But remember: the Metal horse gives 100 percent to his training sessions and he expects you to do the same. He is tolerant of a unskilled rider who is earnest and trying hard, but impatient with a skilled handler who is sloppy or lax during training time. This competent companion takes working with you very seriously. He bonds through work, not play.

With dogs of course the picture changes but the sense of the Element stays the same. The Earth dog dreams of lying with a bone in a warm spot by the fire where a Metal dog is ready to go out and DO something, something interesting and useful. The Metal dogs thrive on the same level of challenge and will learn their tasks quickly and correctly. If you are used to an Earth dog, then your new Metal puppy may surprise you in the speed in which he learns or the level of intense focus he gives to his training. Again, this dog requires YOU to be competent too so take your training time together seriously for the best results. He is not a lay-about and expects you to be committed too. If you do this, then he will bond deeply and earn the title of “man’s (or women’s) best friend.

Turning inward

To encourage harmony and maximum performance, take care not to overwork your Metal animal . Though his reliable and collected nature seems to take everything in stride, his apparently calm exterior often hides a highly sensitive individual. You might think this horse has no problem handling the strain of numerous weekends of showing or endless riding lessons. Or that this dog is fine with his “job of being the family pet with the three-year old trying to climb on him and pull his ears. More often than not your Metal animal  internalizes the stress of a heavy work load, sometimes to an unhealthy degree. Metal animals are also stressed when they are required to maintain a calm demeanor amidst chaos or difficulty. Metal animals working as police dogs or therapeutic riding mounts are expected to deliver consistently calm and reliable behavior in the face of challenging conditions. Your ultra-competent Metal animal will probably meet this demanding requirement, but it may come at a cost to his inner sense of well-being.  

If your stoic Metal animal seems unflappable, look closely for subtle signs of stress. Physical signs such as chronic coughing or skin conditions may point to internal stress. By carefully monitoring the early signs of stress in this animal, you can head off problems before they worsen. Monitoring stress will also help him avoid any tendency to shut down emotionally under pressure.

Keep it calm

This animal thrives in a calm, quiet and orderly home. In the bustle of a big barn the Metal horse will be happier on the end of the barn row far from the entrance or, even better, somewhere where he has free turn out to take private time when he needs it. Barns that have non-stop music or constant activity can really irritate this horse’s delicate sensibilities. Metal dogs are just the same. They appreciate an environment of quiet order and calm. If your house is busy and noisy, make sure that they have a place like an out of the way room where they can retreat to restore their inner sense of calm. For both animals, if you must play music in their home, choose calm soothing music or let them escape outside to the sounds of nature.

This animal is not a social butterfly. He’s happiest in a small herd/pack with a few others that he can trust and rely on. When he bonds with another animal or person his connection will be deep and lasting. Feel honored if you are the recipient of the Metal animal’s affections – he will only bond closely to a person who he truly trusts and respects. And his loyalty once engaged will be formidable.

Body signs

The most common place to look for physical ailments in the Metal horse is the respiratory system. If your horse coughs regularly, has labored breathing, respiratory infections, allergies or other respiratory condition, consider supporting the Metal Element with acupressure, acupuncture or herbs.

Metal dogs may also have respiratory issues but it is skin conditions that are the most common sign of imbalance in Metal. In both animals, skin problems such as rashes, dry skin, hair loss, allergies, eczema, skin sensitivity, sweet itch, hot spots etc. can further indicate that your animal is dealing with a Metal imbalance. He may also show digestive problems such as dry stools, constipation, impaction colic, poor appetite or digestion issues. His immune system may also require extra attention to stay strong. These physical symptoms surface when he is under emotional, mental or physical stress. Remember to pay close attention to these signs; they may be the only way this stoic animal communicates that he needs your help.

As for performance, your Metal animal will move and perform best when he receives regular stretching and/or energetic healing work. Keep this in mind if you see your Metal animal moving like a robot. Stay ahead of this stiffness and your Metal animal’s tendency to hide stress and you will see his quiet elegance and competence shine through in every step.


The Metal Element at a Glance

Five Element theory recognizes five primary patterns of symptoms in an animal’s body functions, emotional characteristics and other aspects of health and well-being. These five patterns help practitioners determine which organ system and meridian pathway needs healing and support. Below are the Metal Element qualities. For example, an aloof, hardworking horse who is prone to coughing and skin conditions may have a Metal constitution. Metal animals benefit from herbs, acupressure and lifestyle changes that balance the Metal Element.

Emotional Characteristics of the Metal Animal

Emotional strengths: Logical, clear mind; methodical and calm, even tempered, reasonable, intelligent, sensible, dependable, independent, self-reliant

Stressed by: Commotion, noise, lack of order, incompetence, foolishness, incorrect actions, unreasonable expectations from the handler, overly sentimental interactions, some Metal animals are resistant to lots of touch like massage, they often prefer acupressure or energy work with minimal touch

Balanced by: Quiet time alone or alone with one favored person or animal, calm, order, clean surroundings, respect, honor, competence, routine, work, correctness

Vulnerable to: Mental rigidity, intolerance, judgment, dismissiveness, perfectionism, unhealthy expectations, righteousness, unreasonable demands for competence or performance of self and others such as handlers, stoicism, trying to do it all alone, shutting down

Responds to stress with: Internalizing stress, inner chaos with exterior calm and order, impatience, irritation, emotional withdrawal, emotional shut-down, aloof behavior, physical ailments like coughing and skin issues, blocking intimacy

Learning style: Benefits from: methodical and challenging lessons; mental challenge; clarity, correctness and competence from handler, calm quiet direct handling, no-nonsense approaches, regular work

Tips for Success: Be CLEAR, quiet and respectful; keep this animal in work – he NEEDS meaningful work or training; work hard on your OWN part of the work – i.e.: handling/riding skills to earn his respect, don’t over-sentimentalize your interactions, over time gently coax this animal to feel safe to express emotions and receive touch and intimacy


Physical Characteristics of the Metal Animal

Favorite sports: Any sport or task that gives the animal the chance to give his all; sports that require mental focus and exactness and demanding physical concentration and exertion Horses: dressage, reining, jumping are favorites but any sport done well can be enjoyed, police horses  Dogs: Metal dogs enjoy the test of an Agility lesson or competition, they an also be excellent guide dogs or police dogs

Common ailments: All skin issues (rashes, dry skin, hair loss, allergies, eczema, skin sensitivity etc), all respiratory issues (coughing – acute or chronic, labored breathing, roaring, lung infection, etc…), requires moistened hay, coughs in the beginning of work, all immune issues, constipation, impaction colic, “splints (bony growths in response to injury) on the inside cannon bone of the forelegs, coughing or stocking up when the coat changes or when the animal receives vaccination, stiff neck or worse when the animal receives vaccination

Tips for Well-being: Challenging work when fit, regular “work to feel useful and purposeful when “retired, pay attention to environmental factors affecting the respiratory system (horses: bedding, training surface, dusty hay, skin products  dogs: carpets, chemical cleansers in house and car, food allergies) stretching for suppleness, evaluate the needs for vaccination with a holistic vet (less if often better with this animal)

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