Equine Bowen Therapy is a gentle non-invasive complimentary therapy that is highly effective in the treatment of a wide range of acute and chronic conditions covering both physical and emotional issues in horses. Muscular aches and pains that can occur at any time whether you’re a human or a horse.
As humans, I’m sure we have all suffered from some form of muscular pain and discomfort at some time in our life so we know how painful and debilitating it can be. This discomfort may be as a result of overworked muscles whilst playing sport, or an activity you have not done for some time like spring cleaning or lifting heavy objects.
You may not feel the pain straight away, but in a day or two you suddenly start to feel a little stiff and tight in the muscles, you have difficulty moving and bending and may even display a limp or look crocked in the back. Through body language you are communicating that you have a problem, a person can go one step further and verbally tell you what their problem is and where the pain is unlike an animal.
A horse is no different, they too can suffer from muscular aches and pains just as we do. Whilst horses can’t speak and tell us where their pain is, they certainly can communicate through their body language if they are suffering some sort of pain and discomfort. As horses are prey animals, they are often very good at hiding their pain. They will often adapt their movement to a new way of going when they are protecting a sore muscle which will force other muscles to overwork to compensate, in turn causing additional stresses and strains in other areas of the body thus losing their freedom of movement. Left untreated the harder and longer it will take to rectify the problem.
Horses are incredible athletes and we expect a lot from them with intense training routines and the stresses of competition can certainly take its toll on our beloved equine partners. We are asking them to carry saddles and riders, respond to demands, perform movements repeatedly and overcome their natural fears which can eventually cause the horse to develop muscular tension, stiffness and spasms resulting in pain, restriction in movement and reduced performance levels. Many horses may often develop behavioural changes that riders and handlers will often label as unsafe and can sometimes be mistakenly misunderstood as naughtiness often resulting in punishment to the horse.
Many complaints can be attributed to a variety of reasons which can include:- incorrect warm up and cool down procedures, overworked muscles, poorly fitting saddles and equipment, rider disabilities and imbalances, injury, confirmation faults, teeth related issues and hoof imbalances just to name a few.
Signs that your Horse May have a Problem
When the musculoskeletal frame is misaligned or in spasm, the horse is unable to work at its full potential. There will often be physical and/or behavioral signs that you should be able to recognise that are uncharacteristic for your horse. If your horse is displaying any of the following symptoms, then these are all signs that your horse is trying to communicate to you through body language that something is not right and he/she may be experiencing some sort of pain and discomfort. Conditions that respond well to Bowen Therapy include:-
- Uncharacteristic changes in behaviour
- Becomes agitated and moves away when grooming
- When mounting, does your horse lift his/her head or try to bite or kick you
- Cold backed or girthy
- Looks a little stiff and is not moving freely, do they have difficulty walking up and down hills
- Misbehaves under saddle such as trying to buck and rear
- Has difficulty bending and flexing to one side, reluctant to move forward or takes shorter strides or feels uneven
- Maybe your horse will not strike off on the correct canter lead when asked or is often disunited
- Has difficulty rounding up and maintaining a soft contact on the reins
- Reduced range of movement
- Uneven shoe wear
- Uneven muscle development
It is also important to mention that not all pain and discomfort can be directly related muscular or soft tissue dysfunction. Acute or chronic pain over the lower back (thoracic/lumbar) region behind the saddle for example could also be an indiction of a more serious problem and may indicate kidney disease and/or urinary problems, this may be evident by a poor urine flow or darkened or foul-smelling urine and it would be strongly advised that veterinary attention is sought immediately in this instance.