I go occasionally to a cranio-sacral therapist, a skilled lady, who has also worked with horses. I felt privileged when she agreed to come to Ben, the first time she has come to a horse outside her immediate family circle.
I have been aware of Ben’s dipped back, which is quite obvious in photos, but also of an imbalance in his back, his right side being more muscled than his left. Once, when I was riding him bareback, I found he kept shifting my weight over to his right side. I have had a chiropractor look at him, but felt that cranio-sacral therapy might help him also.
The dipped back appears exaggerated in this photo of Ben having decided to explore our courtyard:
The therapist came out on a rainy afternoon, clearing her diary for that afternoon, as she said that as horses have such large energy fields she prefers to keep time free after treating one. Ben came up to be caught and we brought him into the stable. He was initially very resistant, and, as I stood holding him, he kept trying to mouth me. This is not something he normally does and I presumed it was some displacement behaviour. He did start to relax and let out snorts and yawns, with lots of licking and chewing. I found myself sighing involuntarily with each release. Out in the paddock, Rosie had stopped grazing and stood, directly in my line of sight. She looked focused and intent. When Ben released, she would lick and chew.
The therapist found a lot to work on with Ben, from his poll down to his hips. She said that he had had a fall at some stage and told me that Ben let her know that he slipped out hunting about 4 years ago. This fall was the source of the imbalance in his back. She finished by holding his tail. Although I have experienced cranio-sacral therapy for myself, and have appreciated the balancing effect it has, I do not fully understand it. But when she held Ben’s tail, I could see muscle movement right up Ben’s back. Ben’s head dropped, his stillness was profound.
When she had finished, Ben stayed with us for a while, although Rosie moved away. Then Ben moved out to the paddock, walking slowly as if he were half asleep. We heard bird song around us. As we watched Ben, we saw Rosie suddenly trot away and realised that Ben was awake. He had a release of energy and moved after Rosie, snaking his neck. He stopped, pawed the ground as if to roll, stopped again. He turned to us where we stood in the door of the stable. He walked up, with a loose, swinging stride, lowered his head, touched his muzzle against my arm for a brief moment and then moved away.
I think that was Ben saying thank you.