Are your horse’s eyes symmetrical? Are its ears? Its nostrils? Have you ever even considered the symmetry of your horse’s face? If the answer is no then you are not alone. Few owners and riders ever look at their horse’s face straight on and yet the horse’s face tells a story, a story of past head trauma be it from an actual accident or from ill-fitting bridles, bits, poor dentistry, the list goes on.
Of all domesticated species, the horse probably suffers the most pressure on its head than any other and yet it is the one area most overlooked. Much money is spent fitting saddles, adapting shoes, providing body massage and physio, but very little attention is actually paid to the horse’s head and yet this is one area that is proving to have a significant impact on the entire bio-mechanics of the horse. Past trauma and pressure here can not only have an adverse impact on the horse’s neurology but also on TMJ function, gait, muscle and nerve function and behaviour, to name but a few. This is where Craniosacral therapy comes in, a therapy setting itself apart from other complementary therapies by focusing on the body in its entirety, including the head.
The important thing to remember when looking at any issue a horse appears to have is that the body loves balance and, to maintain it, will compensate in any way it can. Compensation in turn impacts overall musculoskeletal health and, unless the underlying cause of the imbalance is addressed, may go on to create not only physical issues but behavioural ones as well.
What is becoming increasingly evident as more case studies come to the fore is that the craniosacral system is key to performance and behaviour. By understanding the importance of the connections between the bones of the skull, vertebrae, sacrum, and pelvis, craniosacral work can remove restrictions throughout this system, allowing the body to make the necessary changes to enhance overall well-being and restore balance.
As a prey animal, the horse is adept at hiding signs of pain and by compensating in other areas of the body will continue to jump, gallop and meet the daily demands we put on it until the point at which clinical lameness sets in. By this time the horse has already been in a downward spiral of complex compensation patterns for some time, observable lameness occurring when it can no longer compensate to conceal its pain. It is usually at this point that owners seek treatment. The trouble though is that unless the treatment sought also addresses the compensatory changes that have occurred, success will be short lived. This is where Craniosacral therapy can help. By bringing together posture, cranial compression, and compensation patterns in forming the basis of every treatment plan, the entire body can be re-balanced and realigned. The earlier the treatment the better, with a minor injury being able to be prevented from developing into major lameness or a serious behavioural problem. Outside of times of a specific need, regular Craniosacral therapy can help to ensure the bio-mechanics of the horse are working as they should, helping to enhance performance, maintain resilience to injury and allow your horse to lead a pain free, active, healthy life.
The following list is not exhaustive but, if your horse has shown any of the following, it could well benefit from Craniosacral therapy:
– Difficulty making transitions
– Inability to gain fitness
– Head shaking
– Refusing jumps
– Behavioural issues (including an unexplained change in behaviour).