It's Elementary! An Introduction to Five Element Theory for Animals

Five horse owners lead their horses out to the pasture in the early morning sun. The first horse to the gate pulls on the line, impatient to have his morning buck after being cooped up in the stall all night. The second pushes her bulky body through the gate and promptly begins to graze, ignoring the third who nips playfully at the grazer eager to frolic. The fourth waits his turn quietly as if absorbed in his own thoughts. The last horse moves slowly due to her 25 years but she is aware of each movement of her herd which she leads with quiet authority. Each horse embodies common physical and behavioral characteristics according to the Five Elements of Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM). By understanding how Five Element patterns relate to your animals, you can learn simple ways to keep them healthy and happy on a deep, lasting level.


Ancient Elements, Modern Animals


Thousands of years ago, CCM practitioners recognized that the body's energy regularly cycles through five distinct natural phases, often called "the Five Elements . They saw how each phase or Element influenced the body's organ functions, emotional stability and core body health. Veterinary practitioners noted that when a patient's Five Elements were healthy and balanced, the animal glowed with vitality - when the Elements were weak or unbalanced, the animal developed behavioral issues and physical ailments. These early practitioners developed an entire system of assessment and treatment based on these Five Elements.


The Five Element model has been practiced and refined over centuries and is highly effective for modern animals. By applying the basics of Five Element theory, you can ease common acute health conditions like lameness or colic. You can also improve long standing issues from chronic coughing to skin problems. You can address these physical conditions through acupressure, acupuncture, diet, feng shui (altering the animal's environment to harmonize health) and other practical methods, all according the guidelines of the Five Elements.


Another intriguing aspect of working with the Five Elements is understanding how they describe your animal's emotions. Each of the Five Elements display different behavioral patterns and each have a balanced and unbalanced manifestation. Healthy expressions of the Elements include clear-headed leadership, friendliness, nurturing kindness, quiet contemplation and spiritual wisdom. Unhealthy expressions include irritability, nervousness, stubbornness, stoicism and panic. By identifying the Elemental pattern activated in your animal you can know how to best train together, how to attain performance success and how to experience greater emotional harmony. If you have ever worked with animals with unbalanced behavior ranging from dangerous aggression to debilitating fearfulness, knowing that you can work toward healthy behavior is a powerful tool.


Below you will find an overview of the Five Elements as they manifest in the character of animals. Use these descriptions to identify your animal's Element.


An Overview of the Five Elements in Animals


Which character description sounds most like your animal?


To support your animal's Elemental constitution, follow the training approaches and health care recommendations covered in the other articles covering each Element. These simple suggestions enhance your animal's well-being and let your relationship blossom. Use the links below to read an entire article about each Element.

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