The Only Way To Begin An Equine BodyWork Session....

Mar 02, 2023

“Unexplained problems out number the accidents by a wide margin.  Invariably the cause will be a bit of knotted tissue no bigger than the end of your thumb, a bit of muscle or joint ligament unable to perform its normal function….Until it is realized that the muscular system (sixty percent of the horses total body weight and the system responsible for motions) is a predominant cause of motion problems, many things will remain a mystery that should not be mysterious at all.” -Jack Meager aka the father of equine massage


Our first and most important job when approaching our horses for bodywork, is to have a clear intention of what we are doing.  Remember, we are using a holistic framework of horsemanship that takes into account the Mind, Body, and Soul of ourselves, and our horse.  I recommend taking a few moments to be still before getting the horse.  One of the techniques we teach, such as breathwork mindfulness, gratitude practice, or a grounding visualization, are all great ideas here. If you have access to our online course, go the mindfulness headquarters and listen to any of the guided meditations there. 


Hopefully our mind is a little calmer now, anxiety is low, we aren’t in a hurry, and we feel warm, fuzzy, and grateful inside….Now before going to get your horse and doing some awesome BodyWork, ask yourself “why am I adding bodywork to my on-the-ground routine?”.  This is so important, we created a specific framework in our Holistic BodyWork program called the 4 B's of Intention. 


The first two B's is BREATHING TO BEING. That's more of the mindfulness stuff we go on and on about, it's the library of guided meditations in our online program, it's just SO important when it comes to horses. When mindfulness and horsemanship meet, magic happens. 


In our holistic framework, bodywork isn’t just about the body.  I like to think about it as an opportunity to BE with our horses, not doing, but being.  The horses are already in the moment, that magical place of possibility and authenticity.  They are living manifestations of nature, and we get to BE with them.  'Whoa man, cool!'. So with this kind of thinking, our primary intention might be as simple as being with our horse. 


Once you move yourself from a human DOING to a human BEING through breathwork, we explore the next natural paradox. How to 'Do BodyWork', while Being..... Yes these are the things that keep me up at night, LOL.


This naturally leads to the next two B's of intention, one way we 'do' BodyWork is by speaking to the horse's Brain, through the Body. Horses have a very developed brains in context of movement, not only do they have more muscle mass by body weight than any other mammal (!), but they are wired to use their bodies to escape predators. We are talking about the cerebellum and the motor cortex here, but there is another really interesting fact: 80% of the neurons in the vagus nerve are afferent, meaning they transmit information from the body back to the brain. Hello embodiment practice!! Yet another factor is horses speak through body language, a topic we explore in depth in module two of our program, Understanding Horses, Language and Culture....


SO, these are the many reasons why I say you can talk directly to the brain through a horses body. Particularly if that is your intention, and you precede that by coming into a state of coherence and parasympathetic nervous system regulation though mindfulness breathing practices, aka, breathing to being.

So, in summary, we have our 4 B's of intention: Breathing to Being, and Body to Brain. Moving on....


 Speaking of intention, you wouldn't be reading blogs about Holistic Horsemanship is you didn't care about horses.  Some of us have aligned a higher purpose of life to our relationship with horses, a.k.a. ‘The Calling’.  It is super interesting that social and psychological research suggests that having meaning and purpose aligned with having an impact on lives beyond our own is the highest mark of well-being.  What an opportunity BodyWork presents! 


And yes, there are lots of technique (really fancy complicated ones too!), assessment, therapeutic groundwork prescriptions, and so much more, it's the stuff Victoria and I do in our BodyWork sessions and it's awesome, but I'm trying to say you don't need all that to connect and help horses.

So we are going to wrap this discussion up here, because if you know how to begin with intention, aligned with your WHY and the principles I have outlined here, you can't go wrong. PS> you don't even need fancy technique at that point (but don't tell anyone that!). 


Equine BodyWork, like all of Holistic Horsemanship is a form of active meditation, where we enter the natural state of Being that horses are always in and we use our mind-body-and soul to have a positive impact on the life of our horse! 


Now we have that figured out, let's go get our hands on a horse!