A Guided Journey of Attunement: Holistic Equine Bodywork

Oct 23, 2023

In the world of Equine Bodywork, there exists a unique approach, one that transcends the clinical and delves into the realm of holistic healing and connection. It's not just about physical touch; it's about forging a deeper understanding, trust, and balance with our equine companions.

Let's explore the intricacies of equine bodywork, as seen through the lens of our Holistic Relational Attunement-based approach, through this guided journey of an actual recent session!

Neck Work - Brachiocephalicus with Ring Finger

Picture yourself standing at the side of the horse, you practice your hand softening techniques and you've done your breathwork. You've completed the 3-V assessment process, and now it's time to enter the nucleus of the Horse-Field and get hands-on!

Your soft hand positioned just under the brachiocephalicus muscle, using a slight arm curl technique. The pinky side of your hand, with a gentle touch from your ring finger, explores this important muscle. Your other hand is gently on top of the horses mane, feeling, guiding, and allowing the horse to Relax into Roundness.

Your soft eyes, resting in an intentional peripheral gaze, are focused on the horse's face, keenly observing every blink, ear movement, and facial expression.

This is the beginning of a journey, a dance of sensitivity and response. As you apply gentle pressure, you watch for even the slightest hint of the horse's reaction. When the horse communicates, you pause, holding your position, allowing them to process. The pressure you apply becomes a level of connection, a bridge between you and the horse. Your spirit, brain, and hands are congruent and communicate that congruence through your horses body, brain, and spirit.

Take five deep breaths, releasing your pressure level with each exhale. You sink into a deep level of concentration as your pressure is divided into 5 subtle layers. Each breath you explore getting more and more subtle. Your horse and you are now in sync, in a silent conversation through touch.

Your intuition is now in full presence, and directing your attention, pressure, motion, and intention. You feel connected and whole within yourself, and attuned to the horse. Attunement is no longer a theory, it is a literal experience reverberating around you, and between you and the horse.

You continue this journey down the brachiocephalicus, enjoying the presence you have created, and allowing and feeling a sense of limitless space for trust and connection to unfold in ever widening rings of being.

Proprioceptive Foreleg Balance + Gray Area Stretch - Cervico Thoracic Release

Now we adventure into the playful arena of balance and proprioception. The common motion of picking the foreleg up to clean the hoof become a dance of communication about balance.

As you gently lift the foreleg as if picking out the hoof, you switch hands, turning your body to face forward. Toes are slightly angled out, because an attuned BodyWorker doesn't like getting their toes smashed by 1000+ point animal! Your soft, open hand cradles the hoof.

As you guide the knee and stretch the leg, your goal is balance, finding that sweet spot that challenges the horse's proprioception without causing insecurity. It's a delicate dance, allowing the horse to discover balance on their own, forging connections between body and brain. Your connection deepings. 

As the horse finds balance, you gently lower the foot, stretching the cervico (neck)-thoracic (shoulder) area and freeing the brachial plexus (what causes nerve impingements). You seek a slow, controlled descent, as the horse's muscles engage in an eccentric contraction.

This is the science of exercise physiology, applied kinesiology, biomechanics, and anatomy in action. This is the art of balance, strength, and connection, unfolding in each gentle movement.

Where the art and science connect with the golden thread of consiliency, the Holistic Partnership Method lives and breaths in every vibrating moment!


Let's go deeper, and explore even more layered dimensions of subtle communication. Sometimes, one leg feels less reactive, as if the horse's awareness has drifted away. In such situations, you use your free hand to awaken the muscles of the shoulder, rekindling the connection.

This is the art of awakening, through the science of cross fiber friction and/or tapotement; allowing the horse to re-associate with that part of their body safely. In industry speak, this is a practical form of ‘Somatic Integration’, good stuff!! Trust builds, the horse is fascinated at our ability to communicate to it's body in a way that builds awareness and balance, which always leads to the most valuable currency the horse knows, the veritable holy trinity of Safety, Comfort, and Care. 

TRT (Tension Release Timer) Along the Spine - Brain to Body

We also seek comfort in our own body, we don't want to hurt our back and stay bend over with the horses foreleg too long. It's now time to return the spinal column, the effective conduit of life energy for the horse.

Standing at the horse's side, your hand forms a V shape, gently sinking into the spinal groove on each side, just behind the withers. As you move slowly down the spine, your intuition guides you to areas of tension. The horse communicates through subtle signs, and you respond with perfect timing. Your touch transforms into a TRT method, a gradual release of tension as you both breathe deeply.

Your touch is now synonymous with the release of tension, the horse gives you a gentle nudge, you see an expression of relief in the horses eye that melts your heart. 

TRT for Old Injury

Horses carry with them the memories of old injuries, and the TRT technique helps them reprogram that stored tension. This process of somatic integration is vital, as it allows the horse to move beyond the traumatic memories and establish a new relationship with their body.

This new association is imprinted with your own presence and attunement, a sacred bond is now formed that extends beyond the realm of the body and even the world as know it. You have now entered the timeless dimension where authentic healing and trauma release can happen. 

Rear Proprioceptive Balance

It's been an amazing journey thus far! You are considering re engaging with the proprioceptive system of the horse in a playful and curious way. How can we plug into this state of balance with the hind legs? 

Standing at the horse's hip, you use your forearm to cradle the sacrum area while gently grasping the hamstring. Your soft, balanced approach creates a gentle rocking motion, not unlike a bamboo tree gently swaying in the tradewinds of a subtropical breeze, connecting the muscles of the sacrum/hip to the hamstrings.

Your motion comes from your legs, your feet grounded to the center of the earth. You gently push with sacram hand, and gently pull with the hamstring hand. You get lost in they rythmic sway of proprieceptive awareness with the horse.

It feels like the laws of physics are below you now, you lose sense of time, and space. It's a dance of balance and trust, building both physical and emotional connections.

Neck Brace Release

The Holistic Partnership Method is grounded in solid, ancient, and credible horsemanship and horse training principles. Now that you have connected and transformed the horses relationship with its body, balance, and stored tension and trauma, let's consider the horses response to human cues.

Horses have more often than not been trained to lean into brace, which is to say, they have learned to brace. The fine art of horsemanship has been lost to the pressures of competition and human ego. The feelings of partnership, attunement, and sensitivity required to communicate without brace are all but lost to the world.

Horses often lean into the upper neck pressure, in what seems to be an attempt to release tension. But sometimes, what seems like release is, in fact, a state of bracing. The common jaw stretching, tongue rolling, and mouth motion that we often celebrate in bodywork as signs of tension release, feel intuitively like a subconscious, reactive bracing in this case.

In such moments, you stay with the horse, creating gentle pressure on the neck with your forehand, while guiding them towards a balanced posture using the ‘Relax into Roundness’ methods. It's a journey from brace to softness, a path towards trust and relaxation.

The horse learns to find this softness and balance on its own, associating your presence and energy as a guide. It's a process of discovery, patience, and trust-building.

Your patience and servant leadership mindset finally lead to a softening, you release and step away. You mindfully practice a few rounds of box breathing while your horse enjoys a state of relaxation it has yearned for, and is now experiencing!

In Closing:

In the world of equine bodywork, it's not just about techniques; it's about fostering a deeper connection, trust, and balance with these magnificent animals. Our Holistic Relational Attunement-based approach is a testament to the beauty of this journey. As you embark on this path, remember, it's not just about the horse's well-being; it's about the profound transformation that occurs within yourself as well.

Healing is a two way street! It's a journey of love, connection, and a shared language of trust. This is relational attunement, and when you discover and experience it in the horse-human relationship, you will find it transfers, and transforms every facet of your life!