What is equine osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a manual therapy that essentially restores circulation, therefore enabling the body to self-regulate and self-heal as it should. In simple terms, osteopaths find blockages in the body and release them. Horses’ bodies (and all organisms) are capable of self-maintaining and self-healing when in a state of balance. By ensuring blood, lymph, and nerve pathways (to just name a few) are free to flow as nature intended, the body can very well self-correct and find homeostasis again. In the words of my teacher, Janek Vluggen, “find it, fix it, leave it” – the horse’s ability to re-harmonize itself and find health and balance again is amazing.
What differentiates equine osteopaths from other practitioners is the aspect of treating the whole horse. This includes addressing the musculoskeletal system, craniosacral system, and organs. Craniosacral therapy involves working with the soft tissue surrounding the central nervous system and ensuring mobility in the cranial bones as well as the sacrum. What osteopathy strives for is mobility, everywhere! Techniques used include very light touch (with craniosacral and also osteopathic ‘listening’), stretching, thrusts, myofascial release, visceral manipulation, and of course taking into consideration dentistry, hoof balance, diet, etc. and suggesting further professional direction in these areas as needed. It is very important for an osteopath to embrace team work with each horse’s vet, farrier, dentist, saddle fitter, and other care takers. Their health is always the priority and I love watching teamwork unfold to better our equine partners.
There you go, Osteopathy in a very condensed nutshell!
Attached below is an article written by a vet about her experience with osteopathy and watching Janek, one of my teachers, work.
What kind of horses benefit from osteopathy?
Old or young, competitive or not, any horse will benefit from a session. Set your young horse up for success so they can grow and develop as balanced as possible to decrease risk of ailments down the road. Any ridden horse should be considered an athlete and like the old saying goes.. prevention is the best medicine.
How many sessions will my horse need?
This will vary from horse to horse, depending on their needs and issues at hand. Generally, an initial session is followed up with a visit around the 4-6 week mark. A healthy horse in regular work would benefit from having a session at least once or twice yearly to ensure any small issues are addressed before compensation patterns start to take their toll.
How long does a session take?
It can range anywhere from 45mins – 2 hours depending on what sort of treatment is needed and how it is being accepted by the animal. I don’t ever rush or try to make things happen quickly. In the long run, this makes for a much happier, relaxed animal who is more accepting of the treatment. Results will show faster and more profound with this approach.