Relax… That’s right, you, relax. Take a breath, like you mean it. Check in, where are you holding your tension? Feel into this tension, can it get softer? There is a very good chance that your horse holds their tension in the same place. Ask yourself, like you would ask your horse. Are you willing to let go of your own tension? It’s not always as easy as it sounds, is it.
One of the things I am passionate about is helping bodies relax. I do holistic bodywork based on craniosacral therapy (CST). CST is a light touch manual therapy that optimizes the central nervous system and surrounding structures. My work allows me to have a conversation with my client’s body – whether that client has two legs or four.
On a typical farm call, I ask some questions and begin the process of what the owner (or trainer) wants to accomplish with my work. Then I do a quick evaluation with the horse and see how the stories match up. Usually there is some overlap between what the horse wants or needs and what the owner wants. Once I determine the areas on the horse that need my attention the most, I often scan the owner. Frequently, there is a connection between the areas of restriction on the horse and the rider. Have you noticed this?
Just last month, I treated a horse for the first time. His back, in the lumbar area, was holding a lot of tension that felt like it had been there a while. As I turned to look at the owner, she was flat on her back on the aisle floor and said, ‘Hope this is oaky, my low back (lumbar area) is really sore and tired again.’ (I love it when things are this obvious.) The horse was standing comfortably on the cross ties so I spent the next few minutes with the owner, having her breathe into the tension in her back. As her back started to relax, you could see her horse starting to relax as well with a lower head posture, soft ears, and a resting hind leg.
When I brought my focus back to the horse, the tension is his back was softer too. As the horse relaxed, the tissue in his back got longer and softer. We (the horse and I) were able to mobilize the layers of his tissue; the skin, the muscles and deep into the dural tube (the covering around the spinal cord). When the tissue starts to relax, it’s easier for the fluids to flow. When the fluids flow better, it’s easier for the body to deal with the stress and strain of day-to-day life, whether you have two legs or four. As we finished up, we even got a nice stretch from a hind leg that easily came all the way up into his back. Walking down the aisle back to his stall, it was clear that his stride was much longer and much more relaxed. And, coincidentally, the owner’s back felt better too.
So next time you notice an area of your horse that may not be as soft, supple or responsive as you would like, check in with you. Breathe into this area, what does it feel like? Can you recognize your own tension? And just relax. Maybe it just might help your horse… and you too.
© Karen Partisch, LMT, PA 2015