By Nicola Chambers
Head for the answers
Emma Lowe Photography
Head for the answers
“My horse won’t bend to the right”, “My horse can’t left lead canter”, “My horse bucks after jumping, but he has always done that”, “My horse constantly snorts so loud in fast work, but I’m used to it now”, “My horse never lets anyone touch his ears”, “My horse has a funny clicking sound in his jaw when he eats”, “My horse always drops his food when he eats”, “My horse has just started head shaking, it’s so frustrating when I ride” ….
The list goes on. But at what point would you consider having someone look at your horse’s head? If you were having hock issues for example, would you consider looking at the head as part of hock treatment?
CranioSacral therapy has actually been around for many years. It evolved from the practice of osteopathy in the early 1900s by Dr. William Sutherland, an osteopath, who noticed that when ‘pressures’ were applied to the various bones of the skull, the sacrum and pelvis were directly affected, and visa versa. Indeed, these structures (skull, sacrum and pelvis) are connected, not only by muscles, fascia, ligaments and tendons on the outside, but, MORE importantly, by tissues from the inside.
Equine CranioSacral practitioners apply specific light, hands-on techniques to the horse’s body to release restrictions in the musculoskeletal system and in the fascia. There is no physical manipulation to the bones and tissues (perfect for sensitive horses). Specific attention is given to the head, spine and sacrum, however treatment is not limited to these areas due to the way the body is connected. CranioSacral therapy focuses on bringing balance to the body. Good health cannot be achieved when the body is out of balance.
A state of imbalance creates compensation patterns. Having 4 legs makes horses masters of disguise. They are also prey animals so it is not natural for them to show pain or discomfort – any sign of ‘weakness’ makes them vulnerable. We often only ‘see’ issues like lameness/discomfort when their bodies can no longer ‘compensate’ for the injury or pain. These compensations cost the body over time and aid the breakdown of joint function and musculoskeletal health. Many times people use devices to correct these imbalances, which is like putting a band aid on to correct the body and movement, which long term only adds to the severity of imbalance.
What does balance look like?
Below is a before and after treatment head shot. Do this with your own horse. What do you see? Is their face symmetrical? Consider if your horse particularly spooky to one side? Are they more reactive to noise one side that the other? Can they rotate their eyes or do they move their whole body to see what’s going on? Do they like their ears being touched? Does one eye weep more than the other?
Please note dentistry plays a very important role in maintaining balance.
Has your horse had numerous pull backs? Did you know that there are key nerves that come out from the brain though the back of the skull. If you have had a number of pull backs have you considered some of these nerves might not be able to function and transit messages to the body properly?
Having spent over 10 years trying to find answers to mend my beloved horse, I didn’t realise the answer was as much in my experience as his. Over the years, my left side was getting worryingly weaker and I always felt like I as in two halves. The deteriorating function in my left hand/side left me with choices to have it permanently fixed through smashing and setting the bones, which I rejected. I also believed my neck was the primary issue. Several scans/xrays later a worrying mass at the base of my skull left me with a new choice of having large pins inserted by my spine and risk of paralysis from the neck down – maybe I should have stuck with the hand option! I again rejected this as I didn’t feel this was the right answer for the rest of my life.
A chance meeting that further introduced me to Maureen Rogers (pioneer of equine craniosacral therapy, my now mentor) showed me something that made complete sense, for both me and my horse. And so our craniosacral journey began, one that thankfully means I no longer need to consider large pins in my neck!
Check out my website Emma Lowe Horse Photography