Equi-Bow: body balancing for horses

Equi-Bow: body balancing for horses

Equi-Bow, or Bowen Therapy for horses, is an increasingly popular therapy that can help your horse with imbalances you many not even realize he has.

Much of what we perceive as “conformation” in a horse is actually “posture” that comes about when the body compensates for pain or discomfort. Variations in tension or compression in one region of the body result in an adjustment and re-balancing of the horse’s whole structure. Since the body is “elastically connected”, we can successfully use vibrational techniques such as Equi-Bow, a Bowen-based technique, to address general and specific areas of concern in the body.

Body balancing

In general, Bowen is a gentle, non-invasive, neuromuscular re-patterning technique, primarily used to address the autonomic nervous system in humans and animals. The autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous divisions.

• The sympathetic division is involved in the “fight or flight” response in an emergency, or a panic situation where oxygen-rich blood is directed to the heart and muscles for reactive response.

•The parasympathetic division is involved in “rest” and “digest”, when the digestive and elimination organs function during relaxation.

Often described as body balancing, Bowen addresses and harmonizes the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The body’s sympathetic division can get stuck in the “light or ight” mode, resulting in chronically poor digestion and elimination, nervousness and muscle tension. The Bowen technique addresses these imbalances, and behavioral changes often become evident after treatment. The type A personality, who is always wound up, shows signs of settling more readily, while the individual who is “turned off” or depressed becomes more alert and responsive.

Bowen for your equine

Many schools teach equine techniques derived from different interpretations of human Bowen. Since equine anatomy and physiology differ from ours, there are of course changes in the technique as applied to horses.

Equi-Bow is taught as a light touch technique using fingers, thumbs or the hand, which disturbs the superficial fascia and underlying structures. A series of what we call “moves” are made. These involve consecutively stimulating groups of two to eight precise points on the body, over the muscles, tendons and nerves, using only gentle pressure.

The practitioner then moves away from the horse for a short time that can vary in length. This pause between the application of sets of moves allows the horse’s body time to process the work, while giving the practitioner a chance to observe him and determine if further action is required. Hands-on work usually lasts between 45 and 60 minutes per session. Horses often appear deeply relaxed and at ease during and after a session. You can usually feel increasing warmth and a change in tissue tension.

Benefits and applications

Equi-Bow balances the body, allowing it to heal itself with minimal intervention. It has been seen to affect many issues, including:

• colic

• congestion
• laminitis

• back problems
• balance problems
• gait disorders
• postural problems
• arthritic or chronic pain
• stile, hock, shoulder and knee restrictions
• hip and pelvic discomfort
• body asymmetry
• TMJ issues
• hernias
• digestive and respiratory problems
• lymphatic drainage
• restrictions and misalignments of the fascia and tissue

When restrictions and misalignments of the fascia and tissue are released, performance is optimized. Behavioral problems and training issues often resolve with Equi-Bow because the nervous system balances, allowing the horse to learn more readily and encouraging “thinking” rather than reactive behavior.

Symptoms are often relieved following the first session, with changes occurring up to seven days later. Results vary based on the horse’s initial condition. Changes made with Equi-Bow are generally long lasting, depending on the circumstances, and may include detoxification.

The benefits and uses of this therapy are vast, and the results are often quick and obvious, as was the case with the mare in shown in this article. You can clearly see the relief in her body and posture. Consider adding this therapy to your horse’s wellness toolbox – and perhaps yours too!

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Cheryl Gibson and Simone Usselman-Tod are the founders of Equi-Bow Canada. They offer a horse owners’ course providing students with effective basic body balancing techniques for their horses. It’s beneficial to anyone owning or training their own horses for pleasure or competition. A series of advanced Equi-Bow courses are available for those wishing further education in the technique and/or interested in becoming a practitioner. Equi-Bow is not intended to replace conventional medical or veterinary healthcare. Practitioners never diagnose, manipulate, prescribe or “treat”. Check their website for a list of practitioners. www.equi-bowcanada.com, info@equi-bowcanada.com or 905-659-7223.