Team Blogger Mariana Broucher: Can Bowen Therapy help with schooling a horse?

This is Finley; a 17hh Irish draught x TB.

Finley

Finley is what you could call a project horse. Brought over from Ireland, where he wasn’t ridden much at all, he is an 8 year old “beginner”. And to make things just that little bit harder, Finley suffers from shivers. He struggles to lift his hind legs when he stands, so for example scratching his belly with his hind leg is not possible for him.

Finley worked roughly at prelim level and could do a few low jumps. When ridden it took him quite a long time to warm up and soften. He lacked balance and the confidence to move forward, so seemed a little bit lazy. He wasn’t particularly stiff to any side or crooked, but bending him was not easy.

I treated Finley 3 times, and after each treatment he was better. It took him less time to warm up and to loosen up. This enabled Liz, his owner, to ride more effectively and she now doesn’t need to spend a whole lesson just loosening him up. He can now go on the bit and in a nice outline pretty much straight away and so his training can progress much faster. Lately he has been able to take more weight behind and as a consequence now can work in a shorter frame.

So how has Bowen helped?

The Bowen Technique is a complementary hands-on therapy that specialises on rebalancing the body, through influencing the nervous system and the fascia. Fascia is connective tissue, fibers,  that form sheets or bands beneath the skin. These  attach, stabilize, enclose, and separate muscles and other internal organs. Fascia surrounds and connects every muscle, tendon, ligament and bone. It surrounds all organs. It runs from the top of the head to the end of the toes. It provides protection and cushioning, it stretches and moves. Fascia allows movement within the body and makes it supple. But what if this fascia gets hurt? Let’s say through an accident like a fall or slip or a bang of some sort. Or what if it just simply doesn’t get used and stretched enough?  Then fascia can become stuck together. This is called an adhesion, and it results in restricted muscle movement along with pain, soreness and reduced flexibility or range of motion.  Bowen can relieve these adhesions by “talking” to the  nervous system. The entire nervous system functions as a vast communication network.  Feedback is constantly exchanged among the body’s parts and the central nervous system (CNS), which integrates and coordinates all body systems and activities.  Bowen will add new information to these feedback loops, stimulating the CNS to do a systems check and initiate a healing response.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates the stress response and controls over 80% of body functions.  Most people today live in a constant state of elevated stress, or sympathetic nervous system dominance (fight, flight or freeze mode).  When in this state our internal resources are mobilized for survival (so we can run away quickly from that bear).  There is no time  for healing and restoring the body.

Nowadays a lot of horses are in this stress mode too. Competing, not enough turnout, daily work, injuries, you name it. Lots of horses today have ulcers for example, which can be a direct result of stress.

Bowen helps shift the nervous system into parasympathetic dominance (rest, relax and repair mode), sending the message to the body’s systems that the emergency is over.  Once this shift occurs, stress symptoms are alleviated and the body can do what it naturally does: heal itself.  In relation to soft tissues, the stress response can be activated by injuries, illness, surgery or trauma, causing the surrounding muscles to become locked in a protective contraction.  This contraction may be initially helpful, but, if not released, over time it can create imbalances in the myofascial system.  When Bowen moves send the signal to the nervous system that the emergency is over, tension levels in the muscles are reset to normal resting length and strain patterns in the fascia are released, allowing a return to optimal functioning.  Stress is a fact of life; Bowen is the perfect antidote.

This is Finley after his treatment. His nervous system is most definitely in a parasympathetic state. Sooo tired ☺

Finley2

For more information on Bowen Therapy contact Mariana Broucher on mariana@equinebowen.net   I am happy to answer any questions. My web is www.equinebowen.net

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