Sadly horses can’t tell us if they are unhappy or in pain. And very often the pain has to be quite severe before we notice something is wrong, because it is the horse’s natural instinct to hide pain. In the wild pain equals weakness equals death. So very often small aches will go entirely unnoticed until it is too late and we have a big problem.
And on top of that sometimes we as riders or owners ignore the little tell-tale signs that something is not quite right, or we don’t do anything about it, because we just don’t know what to do.
For example a horse that doesn’t want to stand still when being mounted or doesn’t want to lift a leg; mostly we just put it down to bad behaviour, it doesn’t even occur to us that something could be wrong.
Other problems we might see can be sore or tender backs, stiffness in the body, sudden temperament changes, reluctance to give correct canter lead, muscle wastage or restricted lateral movement. If the problem is big we would of course consult the vet, but quite often we won’t do that if the only thing wrong is that the horse puts his ears back more then normal.
Luckily horse owners are now much more aware of complementary therapies and are not afraid to use them any more. The great thing about Bowen is that it is so gentle that nothing can go wrong, so even vulnerable horses or people can be treated without having to be scared of manipulation or pain.
At other times we might have a problem the vet has diagnosed, but it’s a long term condition that will take a long time to heal and sometimes the outcome can be quite uncertain. One example could be spavins. I met a horse who was diagnosed with spavins a year before I saw him. A lot was being done to help him (medication, lots of turn out, very little gentle riding, he was also kept barefoot) but still he was lame and not too happy. This is him:
Only a week later he cantered across the field, which is something he hasn’t done in a long time. And he was now only 1/10th lame.
During the second treatment S again relaxed quickly. When I came back a week later his owner greeted me with: “you gave me my horse back”!
He is now apparently much happier. He chases other ponies in the field, which he hasn’t done in 2 years. He is playful and has his attitude back. He is not a grumpy old man any more, so his owner thinks about starting to ride him more again, where before Bowen she thought about retiring him. His trot is now short rather then lame.
I love my job 🙂
What happens during a Bowen treatment?
Before any treatment involving a horse takes place it is necessary to obtain permission from your vet to treat the horse. Before the start of the first session information about the horse’s background and general state of health is collected. The horse’s static and dynamic conformation is assessed to give a starting point to measure any improvements by. A discussion with the owner/carer to explore some of the possible causes of the problem (which may not be immediately apparent) is useful because if these causes can be eliminated or minimised then the likelihood of re-injury (so the problem recurring) can be reduced.
Such causes include poor saddle fit, rider imbalance, accidental injury, stress or management issues. The Bowen treatment on the horse is best undertaken somewhere the horse can stand quietly for approximately 45 minutes. As it is a gentle treatment many horses soon relax and some even drop off to sleep. They can have access to hay if they are more settled whilst eating. The effects of the treatment can last for at least 3-4 days as the body is rebalancing and healing.
Advice will be given on when the horse can be exercised and what sort of work would be appropriate. Most conditions respond to three treatments about 1 week apart. For many horses, to maintain their condition and performance levels, a single ‘top-up’ treatment every 3-6 months is sufficient unless there is a re-injury.
Mariana is available to teach Aspire riding courses in Orpington, Kent. Please contact Wiola at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Bowen therapy can be an optional addition to your lessons (at special prices for riders on Aspire courses) or taken as stand alone treatment. Please contact Mariana at facebook.com/MarianaBroucherBowenTherapy for more information.