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What is the Equine Bowen Therapy?

Equine Bowen or the Bowen Technique For Horses, in fact for any animal, evolved by using the technique that had been developed for humans in a similar way to help horses. 

Click here to read about the Bowen Therapy for humans.

Treating Google Horse with Lorraine Wood Bowen Therapy Kent

A Bowen treatment encourages the body to release any tightness or restrictions that are in the soft tissue of the body.  This can be in the muscle tissue or, significantly in the fascia that surrounds every structure in the body.  Therefore Bowen is sometimes regarded as a ‘fascia release’ treatment or ‘myofascial release’.


As fascia is like a continuous sheet or film that wraps around a structure and then wraps around the next and so on, or is joined to a neighbouring structure, everything is connected to everything else.  Therefore it makes sense that a tightness or restriction in the back can affect the hamstrings, and therefore stride length.  It is classed as a holistic (whole body) treatment.  Because of this continuous connection, every system in the body can benefit from Bowen, such as the digestive system or respiratory system.


The targeted Moves also stimulate a neural response that stimulates the horse’s body to release tension.

Muscle, tendon or ligament strains    

Skeletal/structural problems    

Speeds up recovery/recuperation through improved circulation    

Aids virus/infection recovery through improved lymphatic circulation     


Click here for a full list of issues that Equine Bowen may be able to help with.


The reasons our horses’ bodies may be tight are many but it can be from repetitive strain; challenging conformation; saddle, tack or rug fit; or hoof balance.  Just like us, they can have musculoskeletal soreness or be stiff.  


A Bowen treatment can help to ease those pains and stiffness.  Longer term, keeping your horse as symmetrical & aligned as possible can help prevent arthritis.  For performance horses, keeping their bodies as free as possible will help with every range of motion you can think of, from collection to stride length and therefore also power.


Small ‘Moves’ are made over very specific parts of the horse’s body.  They are usually made at muscle edges or structural junctions of tendons or ligaments.  They can also be over neurovascular bundles or lymphatic vessels, meridian energy lines, acupressure points or fascial lines (see research by Elbrønd VS & Schultz RM - Deep Myofascial Kinetic Lines in Horses, Comparative Dissection Studies Derived from Humans).  A few Moves are made & then we wait a couple of minutes to allow the feedback in the nervous system before making a few more and then waiting again.  For simplicity we can think of this as like tapping the water’s edge of a pond and watching the ripples expand out.  We can imagine this happening in the fascia that is under the skin & surrounding the muscles and organs.  We wait until the ripple has dissipated before doing more in a difference place.  Doing that too soon will interrupt the energy of the ripple.

Bowen Therapy

Not Just For Times Of Lameness but Injury Prevention & Better Performance


Most people diligently get their car serviced for longevity & breakdown prevention.  Most people religiously have their horses shod or trimmed, yet many people do nothing to keep their horse’s musculoskeletal framework from breaking down.  Most people aren’t aware that keeping their horse’s body as symmetrical and free from restrictions will help prevent longer term issues or more serious injuries.

Maintenance treatments for your horse may help prolong their pain-free life. “The best protection is prevention!”


By keeping your horse’s musculoskeletal system free from tension it makes sense that performance will be better.  The muscle power is not restricted by tightness and flexibility through range of motion is optimal:

  • Better paces in dressage.

  • Longer stride length for speed events.

  • Optimal power for take off in jumping events.


If we want our horses to stay healthy and have longevity, and because they weren’t meant to carry us, we have an absolute duty to ensure that their bodies are in optimum health – this means booking bodywork sessions.  


The investment you make into treatment for your horse today may save you fortunes in pain relief, steroids or joint relief to name a few in his older years.


Is Your Behaviourally Challenged Horse Trying To Tell You Something About Their Body


Many instances of ‘bad’ behaviour may well be your horse trying to tell you something.  Take the horse that bucks when you ask for some lateral work – maybe your horse is tight through his tensor fasciae latae (outer thigh muscle), which restricts the hindlimb from crossing underneath himself and it will therefore be difficult for him to perform that exercise.  Maybe your horse pulls & snatches at the reins when you ask for collection – this could be a tightness in many places from the neck to lumbar muscles that make it difficult for him to round and collect.  There can be many instances of your horse finding something difficult or painful so tries to avoid but it’s mistaken for naughtiness.

Keeping their bodies free from restrictions & pain will help get the most out of your schooling or jumping sessions.


Keeping Your Horse in The Parasympathetic Nervous System


As a precocial species (a prey animal), horses will do their best to hide anything that may suggest something is wrong.  It is in their DNA to do this.  A horse that looks like it won’t be able to run fast if chased will be targeted by predators.  And no one should forget that WE are the ultimate predator!  The horse may also be shunned by its herd mates as it will attract predators.  Being in pain, or even having a tightness that isn’t particularly painful, just restrictive will be extremely stressful to the horse.  He will be in the sympathetic nervous state.  This sounds as though it is nice and comforting but the word sympathetic in this instance has another meaning.  It means that your horse is in a stressed state internally.  Lots of hormones and chemical reactions will be going on inside their bodies that are not healthy in the long term.  This is another reason to keep your horse’s body ‘serviced’, even if he doesn’t seem like he’s hopping lame.


For injuries, depending on what emotional state the nervous system is in when it occurred can mean the difference between your horse ‘remembering’ pain.  Bowen works on the nervous system, irrelevant of what area of the body we touch and can help take it out of the sympathetic state. 


Horse & Rider Asymmetries

Horse & Rider Asymmetries - Lorraine Wood Bowen Therapy Kent

Tightness in the rider, causing an asymmetrical riding position has a number of implications.  Effective use of the body is one but the most important for me is the subsequent asymmetry that this will cause to the horse.  Take the rider in the picture for example.  This rider may have tightness somewhere in her body that is causing her weight to be more to the left.  To compensate for this uneven distribution, the horse will be overusing the left side of his body.  It doesn’t take very long for supportive fascia to be laid down to support this unevenness and hey presto, the horse will be stiff through his left side.


We can see therefore how important it is for riders to keep themselves as free and symmetrical as possible to prevent issues in their horses’ bodies and be in harmony.

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