R Fenton, DVM
Dr. Fenton right, muscle testing her client Ziggy's owner
Have you ever wondered how your horse feels—emotionally? Wouldn’t it be nice to effectively sort out these emotions, relieve discomfort and heal any underlying issues? There is a method called Neuro Emotional Technique (NET), which is used by trained healthcare professionals to help patients who have nonresponsive conditions associated with unresolved emotional patterns. I have used the technique to explore how a horse might perceive challenging events in its life. This type of therapy may offer us great insight into our horses’ emotional and physical behavior.
The treatment helps resolve the “stuck emotions,” illnesses, and behaviors. It utilizes a mixture of acupuncture meridians, chiropractic, homeopathy, nutrition, and applied kinesiology. Horses can act in such mysterious ways, presenting such symptoms as unidentifiable lameness, unrelenting skin conditions, or unreasonable behavior that has no logic (to us!) NET may offer insight into the types of cases in which owners have tried everything for a horse’s medical, behavioral, or “other” issues and little has helped. It even seems to work when the entire history of an animal is unknown as in the case of rescue horses.
Many of us have heard of one horse dying and its herd companion falling ill or dying shortly thereafter from a “broken heart.” There’s a reason this saying exists. In Chinese medicine, the heart meridian is home to emotions such as feeling lost, vulnerable, and abandoned. It is natural for humans to feel these emotions after losing someone they love. Because these specific emotions are strongly associated with the heart, this organ is most often affected—therefore, the saying, “died from a broken heart.” It’s also very common for animals to develop pneumonia after the loss of a loved one. Again, in Chinese medicine, the lung is the organ associated with grief, and pneumonia occurs in the lungs. This is clear evidence that everything the horse senses, feels, and experiences in his or her entire life has significant influence on more than just the physical plane of the body. A “mind-body-spirit connection” truly exists!
If the horse is unable to cope or resolve the emotional upset, a “blockage” can occur. This can affect the horse immediately and long-term by obstructing full-spectrum healing of traumas, illness, or disease, even in the face of excellent, thorough medical care. These emotional blockages can also cause behavioral, training, or emotional disturbances that even the best horse trainer is unable to resolve. Scientific research has shown that emotions have an effect at the cellular level.1
NET helps release these stuck emotional patterns in the body. It is quite limitless in its use and can help with virtually any situation.
Take Cloud, for example. A 22-year-old grey Quarter Horse gelding with melanomas, he displayed behavioral resistance towards being handled by veterinarians, having acupuncture, or letting his owner put medication on his tumors. In an attempt to alleviate his anxiety and resistance to treatment, NET was performed. The session focused on Cloud being okay with needles so he could voluntarily receive the benefits of acupuncture. During the session, the stomach meridian appeared affected. The emotion tied into that meridian serving as the emotional blockage was the feeling of disgust. We discovered that Cloud possibly had an “emotional reality” related to disgust over being labeled “a sick horse.” He had always been very lively, full of vigor and health—the opposite of being sick. I continued his session, used the chiropractic vertebrae associated with the stomach meridian and provided tapping at those vertebrae to release the emotional blockage (disgust) associated with his resistance to receiving medical care. The next morning, the owner said, “You will not believe this but Cloud let me put his medicine on him without giving me such a hard time! He didn’t clamp his tail shut when I was trying to place the topical cream on the melanoma under his tail head like he usually does.” On follow-up acupuncture treatments, I experienced diminished resistance from Cloud. I was eventually able to administer intramuscular vitamin B 12 injections—something impossible before NET.
Another noteworthy case is my own horse, Boo Boo. He is a 14-year-old Sulphur Spring Spanish Mustang gelding that started spontaneously displaying extremely violent and uncontrollable head shaking without any specific, identifiable trigger. Standing near him was a dangerous proposal as his head could go in any direction without warning and with such great velocity it could have easily given me a concussion or broken my nose. My relationship with him was becoming increasingly nonexistent and very bleak. His condition became so dire over a period of six weeks that fear of euthanasia entered the back of my mind. The most commonly suggested possible diagnoses for head tossing in horses are photic sensitivity, facial nerve paralysis/pain, and allergic rhinitis. These and many others had all been appropriately considered and ruled out based on history, physical exam, testing and lack of response to exhaustive traditional and holistic treatments. After stepping back from this hopeless situation, I looked within and realized I had a tremendous amount of stress in my own life during these six weeks. I am extremely connected to Boo Boo and suspected that he was absorbing my stress. Our animals always mirror us!
I treated Boo Boo with NET for head shaking and the amount of peace and stillness that came over him once treatment concluded was indescribable. His head shaking stopped immediately and completely. There was not a single head nod or quiver. His eyes were soft, his head dropped into a relaxed position and he felt relief for the first time in six weeks. I could actually see his spirit again because it was no longer clouded with everything he was trying to manage. Right after NET, we followed up with cranial sacral therapy from Dr. Renee Tucker, DVM—an amazing practitioner and friend. This helped release the physical tension in his body that resulted from the emotional and spiritual stress. To this day, he has not had any head shaking and our bond is greater than ever.
I am familiar with the despair experienced by owners, the poor prognosis and recommendation of euthanasia with head shaking since many cases are not entirely understood by veterinary medicine. However, I am pleased to write this article to help educate and demonstrate to the horse community how NET can be used with remarkable success in many cases that are considered “impossible.” Never give up on your horse by excluding a treatment option that has the potential to help. There is always an answer. You just have to find it. NET was literally a lifesaver for my horse. It could be for yours, too.
For more information and a short video clip on NET, please visit http://www.vitalequine.us/neuro-emotional-technique.html
About Dr. Fenton:
Dr. Rhiannon Fenton is a Southern California native and currently resides in Calabasas, CA. She was introduced to horses at a very young age and fell in love immediately. Horse training soon became a passion and a very successful endeavor by the age of seventeen. She worked with a wide range of horses from untouched, wild Mustangs and Arabians to Pre-Olympic dressage
 Candace B. Pert, PhD, Molecules of Emotion (Scribner, 1997)