Sometimes we know that a trip to the vet is needed and drugs like anti- biotics will be needed and we have to wait and hope that all will be well. There are other times when it is easy to see that a horse or dog is sore or stiff, or is just showing his age and although medication is available in various forms it is useful to know that you can seek additional help from another area.
As humans we have a vast array of therapies available to us-the most common of these are chiropractic work,osteopathy, accupuncture and reiki. These therapies are also available to animals too-although only vet’s can treat animals with accupuncture.
The above therapies have a fairly extensive history and many people are aware of them and have in fact used them either themselves of for their animals.
I would like to introduce you to Bowen-if you haven’t already heard of it. You may not be aware of it as it is a relatively recent therapy. It came over from Australia in the 1990’s and was the result of one mans work. Tom Bowen treated many thousands of people in his lifetime and he worked on the principal of “less is more”. He developed a therapy which is unique, gentle and which is as useful for animals as it is for people.
Bowen therapy quite simply very gentle. There is no manipulation, no alteration of the bony alignment and does not involve using oils or creams. People are assessed before we ask them to lay on a treatment table (if they are able) and the work that a Bowen therapist does to the body is characterised by “breaks” in the treatment. It is a hands on therapy but there is very little pressure involved when the therapists hands are on the body.Many human health problems may be addressed with Bowen therapy including the obvious ones like frozen shoulders and bad backs but it has also helped people that suffer with migraines, fibromyalgia, ashtma and other long term problems such as Parkinsons disease.
So how does this transfer to dogs and horses? The answer is that horses and dogs seem to enjoy Bowen and many have benefited from Bowen. Their responses are quite different-horses may relax deeply or become agitated when we work on a sore area, dogs often receive less Bowen; therapists do not hold onto the dogs as they work, and they are allowed to pick and choose just how much they receive. Many dogs take very little before they move away from the therapist and find a place to rest. They are then free to return for more if they choose to. It is a super therapy for this as dogs seem to know just how much work they need and will direct the therapist to areas of need. They than tend to relax after and are left to sleep/rest for as long as they need, as the picture below illustrates!
The results can be varied and and with humans if your horse or dog has not had Bowen before you are advised to book 3 sessions with intervals of 7-10 days in between them. The 3 sessions are invaluable as the body’s reaction to Bowen may take a little time. If the body is just sore or the horse is a not quite right any improvements are often seen with just one session but often things take a little longer to change, especially if the problem is a long term one for example a dog who has a long standing phobia (as with fireworks) or a horse is very stressed possibly after moving yards or after an operation.
Other conditions that Bowen has helped with are
Trouble with seasons
Help to relieve breathing when rape seed is in bloom
Injuries-a few years ago I worked with a horse that had sustained a severe injury in the field. A stake had gone up through her flank and there was some doubt that she would survive when the vet first assessed her.The wound was so severe the owner could put her entire hand up into the hole. Obviously she had great veterinary care but the rate of healing astonished even the vet. She went on to be ridden and carry on with her previous life.
Regular top ups help to keep the horse at peak fitness particularly if the horse is competing.
Bowen can help work alongside anti- biotics and anti inflammatories
Pain, soreness and locomotion problems.
Help with stress and phobias-I regularly see a terrier before firework night each year and Bowen helps him to stay calm without any other medications
Another case study was a labrador who disliked going for walks, her desire to walk declined every day until the only way the owners could get her to walk was to put her in the car. We worked on the behaviour angle but nothing seemed to make sense, and it seemed impossible to find out why this was happening. After one session of Bowen she was walking a small distance and on 3rd one she wasn’t hesitating to go out at all. I cannot explain why the Bowen helped but it was the only thing that seemed to make a change for the dog.
Bowen is also very useful after operations, one of my own dogs was hopping on 3 legs after the removal of her femur, she had just “forgotten” how to put her foot to the floor. After 2 Bowen sessions she put her foot to the floor and never lifted it up again. This was pretty dramatic as it she had been carrying it and on 3 legs for about 6 months, and I worked on her as one of my case studies when I was studying canine Bowen.
If you would like any more information about Bowen therapy for humans, horses or dogs please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2014 a colleague and I are launching a brand new canine Bowen course. If you are interested please email for more information on above above email address.