Currently making a name for itself in the equine wellness world, Animal Bowen is a gentle, non-invasive therapy that helps the whole body naturally rebalance, repair and heal itself.
Fascia is a big “web” that runs throughout a horse’s entire body. The physical nature of fascia suggests that everything in the body is inter-connected. When one part of the fascia is injured or compromised, it will affect tissues far from the original injury site. An example is a left hind leg injury, which in turn affects the right shoulder. If the fascia is a “rubber band” that tightens from injury, once the band or fascia softens through Bowen, both the original site (leg) and the ensuing site (shoulder) relax.
Imagine a bundle of rubber bands that originate in the TMJ of a horse and terminate at the tail. The gentle “rolling” of Animal Bowen, causes a minute disturbance. As a result, impediments in the form of adhesions and scar tissue soften and the natural healing process begins. A previously contracted muscle moves like jell-o, while the mind and body figure out together what needs to happen next.
True healing occurs at all levels: physical, chemical and emotional. The pain that an injured horse feels is not just physical; it is also emotional. We know that there is an emotion in every cell of the equine’s body, thanks to neuroscientists Dr. Candace Pert and Dr. Mona Lisa Schultz, whose research has proven how the mind and body are connected.
THE REHABILITATION OF GALLAGHER
Gallagher’s diagnosis of ringbone terminated the three-day event career of this 15-year-old Oldenburg. Peeking through the bars of his stall, I saw a depressed horse standing on mounded shavings that propped up his front legs and took weight off his swollen hinds. Once in the aisle, he stood wide-eyed and his ears warned me to be careful. Following Animal Bowen protocol, I “rolled” then slightly “challenged” the tight fascia at the croup. His hamstrings were also in contraction. My hands moved with lightness and precision onto his hips, legs and fetlocks. The swelling in his hind legs dissipated less than 20 minutes into the session.
It is important to note that once the fascia that surrounds and permeates a muscle becomes tight and restricted, it prevents the muscle from accomplishing its designed work. Neighboring muscles pick up the slack to help the compromised muscle do its job. Eventually, it is not apparent which leg has the original injury, because the uninjured leg displays signs of lameness from moving incorrectly, as was the case with Gallagher.
When Gallagher entered the typical Animal Bowen “trance” or “parasympathetic” mode of healing, he jerked his head and stiffened his neck. He did not want to give way to relaxation, but the treatment took hold and Gallagher relished in his pain-free body. Afterwards Gallagher stood at the front of his stall, relatively balanced, immensely content, with renewed spirit. His mind and body were healing in unison.
Three years later, at the 2008 Dunham Horse Trials, Gallagher won Champion in the Senior Hunt Members division, and Reserve in the Field Hunter division. We have every reason to believe that Animal Bowen resurrected his career!
At present, Animal Bowen is a modality whose efficacy is not supported by statistics and calculated data. It is measured in the truth of perception and definitive results. One cannot deny the sight of a show horse with renewed movement in its shoulders, taking its leads with ease. An older horse who could not roll moans with pleasure while it maneuvers from side to side in the dirt. A nervous horse attains relaxation, closes its eyes, and sleeps.
To contact a practitioner in your area, see bowendirectory.com
Author’s Note: Credit for Animal Bowen/Touch Balancing goes to Carol Bennett, Durango, CO. I learned her original adaptation of Animal Bowen in the United States.
Candace B. Pert, PhD, “Molecules of Emotion”
Mona Lisa Schultz, MD, PhD, “Awakening Intuition”
Dianna L. McPhail is the author of “On the Right Lead, The Mind-Body Connection” and a contributor to the “Spiritual Part of Horsemanship” by Buck Brannaman. She is a Level II Animal Bowen Practitioner. Contact Dianna at www.mind-bodyintuition.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 231-642-7887