Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Horse Health Care: When the Back Off from Bodywork

Horses are amazing self-healers, given just a little help.

I just encountered another example of that.

I have been doing almost daily bodywork on Fezzywig, a recently acquired gelding with a roached back, and until recently, he was a very willing participant.

Then I added backing into the equation. Having consulted with Dr. Madalyn Ward on what to do about the "spiny ridges" that form the roach in Fezzywig's back, I was told to back him (walk him backwards) daily.

Apparently Fezzywig's roached back kept him from properly using the muscles in his back and hindquarters, causing the vertebrae in the roached part of his back to stick up and out.

So we began thrice-daily backing sessions. Fezzywig licks and chews the whole time, and relaxes his back. But, he also refuses to let me do any bodywork at this time.

When to Back Off from Bodywork for Better Horse Health Care
While Fezzywig likes the backing exercise, and is clearly benefiting by it, he avoids me like a mad man when I try to do bodywork on him. So I stopped and had a little chat with him to ask him why. His answer?

"I need to process all the work you have already done on my body. I can't stand anymore right now. Stop already!"

I've always known when to back off of bodywork during an actual bodywork session. Either the horse offer a release (like licking and chewing, yawning, or sometimes even farting), or he walks away from my hands.

I have not had a horse refuse bodywork entirely until now. But now that I think about it, I have been doing bodywork on Fezzywig almost everyday since I brought him home. That's about the equivalent of visiting a chiropractor, masseuse, and acupuncturist every single day for a month. I guess that would be a bit much!

Luckily, Fezzywig has a strong enough personality to tell me that, though gently. He hasn't tried to kick my head off and only tries to nibble on my coat, not bite me.

Horse Health Care and Horse Self-Healing

All of this data reaffirms my theory that horses are their own channels of self-healing. Although they sometimes need some extra assistance from us, such as us laying our hands on their bodies or providing good nutrition (such as my special horse goo and Eleviv), they can pretty much do a lot of their own healing.

We, their caretakers, mostly just have to provide the right conditions. And, of course, we have to listen when they try to tell what's working and what's not. So thanks to Fezzywig, I now have some more guidance for his healing: more backing, less bodywork, at least for now.

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