HOW DOES PAIN AND DISCOMFORT AFFECT YOUR HORSE?

Let's look at some specific challenges first. Your horse:

  • turns easier to one side than the other
  • seems to lack stamina lately
  • has had chronic health issues or injuries
  • appears aggressive and anti-social
  • has had a severe head trauma
  • does not seem motivated
  • demonstrated changed behavior after dental treatment

And you have:

  • tried nutritional changes
  • modified your horse's training 
  • addressed issues with the hoofs
  • had your horse checked by your veterinarian
  • yet to see the results you were hoping for
  • an open mind when it comes to alternative approaches to treatments

Now, imagine your horse being able to be an amazing athlete with ease: shoulders open and free, head movement with natural flexibility, overall suppleness and hind legs that move your horse powerfully forward.

Most horses have had some form of trauma to their bodies along their lives: from ridden to hard, too hard to accidents and illnesses. Such events leave scar tissues, sticky fascia and lesions behind. Same things with the riders. Of course most of them go undetected for a long time, because both of our bodies will try to compensate for as long as possible. Until it is too much and strange injuries seem to occur out of nowhere. But it never does...it has been accumulating.

Without a balanced and supple body a horse may experience issues with soundness, illness, behavior and general stiffness and tightness. At best, the movement won't be as fluid and performance will suffer. Many aspects contribute to your horse's well-being, from to feed to barn management. But when it comes to riding nothing is more important than the riders balanced biomechanics and the well-balanced posture of your horse. Please remember that if you are out of alignment, your horse has extra work to do to compensate for that.

Regular bodywork for you and your horse is highly recommended for optimal health and performance. There is a reason why top athletes have physiotherapists and athletic trainers working with them every day. Your horse is a top athlete as well and so are you.

Equine Craniosacral sessions can be a very different way of assessing and releasing tensions and restrictions by addressing the nervous system. This modality is used successfully to release:

  • Lower back and joint problems
  • Head traumas and injuries
  • Behavioral issues
  • TMJ problems
  • Imbalances throughout
  • Increasing the horse's ability to recover from strenuous exercise or competition
  • Decreasing rehab time
  • Lack of motivation in horse
  • Limited stamina of horse
  • Allergies

Few structures have as much influence over the body's ability to function properly as the brain and the spinal cord - the central nervous system. And vice versa, the central nervous is equally affected by the membranes, tissues and fluids that surround, protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord. With equine craniosacral sessions the horse's body gets a chance to truly heal from the inside out. With a healthy nervous system the body knows how to heal itself and with this unique technique it gets the opportunity to change its entire biomechanics in a gentle way.

Equine CranioSacral Therapy is a tissue based therapy, based in science (central nervous system, autonomic nervous system) and it affects any tissue, at any level, including but not limited to: bone, fascia, dura, muscles, tendons, ligaments, arteries, veins, nerves, blood, lymph, and cerebrospinal fluid.
— Dr. Sandra Howlett, DC, CST-D, EFLC, Certified Veterinary Chiropractor

 ECS focuses on the bones of the skull, the membranes in the skull and their relationship with sacrum and hence has an enormous effect on hind end issues as well as shoulder and wither problems etc.

ECS does not manipulate bones but rather the soft tissue underneath. It is important for the overall health of the nervous system that the bones of the cranium can move freely in certain patterns. This way all underlying tissues, blood and lymph vessels as well as cranial nerves and sections of the brain can function optimally. And if they do - the body can heal itself. This means that for optimal health, it is important to allow for the nervous system to function without any restrictions.

Up until the human modality of CranioSacral Therapy was adapted to horses, the effects equine cranial compressions on the entirety of the horse's body were completely overlooked.

The guiding principles for Equine Craniosacral Bodywork have been adapted from osteopathy and are  the same for humans and horses:

  1. The body is a unit  - if there is tightness in one end it pulls at the other end
  2. Structure follows function - bones and tissues constantly change according to the pressures and forces put upon them
  3. The body knows how to heal itself - that is true for us too - our bodies know how to mend broken bones and get rid of bacteria and viruses, heal cuts etc.

 

 

What compresses a horse's head? How do I know my horse is affected?

Compressions can be obvious, i.e. trauma's and injuries with indentations to the bone structure, but most of the time they are more subtle. We know that horses have mastered the art of covering up pain. This has always been necessary for survival. A weak horse could not be a part of the herd. A single horse would barely survive.

Here are some other signs to consider cranial compression:   

  • Horses sensitivity to touch in certain areas of the head
  • Spookiness: look straight at your horse's head and compare the eyes: are they symmetric? are they on the same level?
  • Cribbing - think tightness in the jaw, hyoid etc
  • Weaving - nervous tension
  • Headshaking: compression during riding via a tight flash, compression on the jaw etc. can possibly cause a horse to shale its head
  • Allergies: think about it - the horse's head is all about sinuses
  • History of pull-backs: direct compression like that is most likely similar to a whiplash injury for a human
  • Facial Nerve paralysis if not due to direct injury possibly other compressions near the facial nerve
  • Behavioral issues: i.e. horses can have headaches and other pains that can make them aggressive
  • TMJ problems: carefully check your horse's teeth by lifting the upper lip: are they lined up evenly?
  • Does your horse prefer a certain lead? Does the neck bend easier to one side than the other?

You will notice that after treating the horse's head the entire body looks differently. The horse is able to move the pelvis more freely, the gluteal muscles do not look as tight anymore, the ribs start moving again, the topline changes and the shoulders openup. 

Tissues released through this modality hold the change and even better, sessions progress from one to the next. It is a steady unraveling of compensatory patterns until the original issue or trauma is released. The results are amazing.

Your horse will get a chance to:

  • live a pain-free life
  • shift its weight back into its main engine for propulsion - the hind
  • have a shiny coat
  • enjoy a healthy immune system
  • feel flexible and strong
  • perform with ease at its highest levels
  • recover quicker from injuries or exercise/events

 

Equine connection and Wisdom

The wisdom of the horse humbles me every time I am with a horse. The patience, honesty and grounding they offer us is amazing. They communicate with us all the time and it is an honor for me to be able to deeply connect with the horses I work with and to find out who they really are underneath discomfort and mistrust.  Just like humans, horses like to be recognized for the amazing beings that they are. And if we listen carefully we can learn a lot from them as they are powerful and wise. To me, every session is sacred.

If you are ready and interested, I can help you see your horse and all horses from a very different perspective. Sessions can go beyond actual bodywork and move into your own connection with your horse and yourself. I promise you, that a whole new world opens up for you with a deeper level of connection and communication with your horse, if you are ready to be present.  To me, horses are the most powerful teachers and guides, if you just let them be that. Behind their deep and dark eyes is a world of wisdom only a few people dare to tap into. Hopefully you are one of them.

Feel free to contact me with any questions:

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