As many (if not most) of you already know, I have gone the distance trying to figure out what makes my horse so hard to deal with. One of the people I’ve run across in my search is Shea Stewart, a trainer and cranial sacral therapist who actually trained with Dr. Deb Bennett, one of my favorite sources for all kinds of great equine information. Dr. Bennett was one of my resources in The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, and seems to be the definitive source for all kinds of great information concerning horse anatomy. (If you aren’t familiar with Dr. Bennett and her work, do yourself a favor and check out her Equine Studies Institute.) And, in addition to Dr. Bennett, Shea has done extensive study of equine gross anatomy and bio mechanics with a variety of the industry’s top leaders, and has taught clinics to professionals and amateurs.
But I digress. The reason I called Shea was a growing awareness of how troubles in a horse’s musculotoskeletal system can contribute to behavioral issues. I watched her work on a friend’s horse (and, I admit it, snickered a little when my friend told me Shea said her horse had TMJ.) But after watching her work — and upon learning of her training — I invited Shea to come out and see if she could help me get to the bottom of what’s troubling dear Trace.
“A horse’s behavioral problems can stem from both physical and psychological issues,” Shea tells us. As one of the few Texas trainers equipped to incorporate craniosacral therapy into her training, she is dedicated to looking at training and behavioral issues from the “whole horse perspective.”
A dull expression can be a sign of a head ache, Shea says. Head shy problems can be another clue. Spookiness, behavioral issues, poor posture, heavy on fore, stumbling, tight pelvis or being croup high, difficulty with transitions, asymmetrical gaits — all can be signs of physical issues cranial sacral therapy can help. Since my horse has most, if not all of these symptoms, I was intrigued.
So . . .you may ask . . .what exactly is cranial sacral therapy — and how can it help a horse?
Over the next few posts, we’ll explore this modality in more depth, and Shea has agreed to help me answer any questions you post. As she worked with Trace, I saw a marked difference in his eyes and demeanor, and after several months, these changes have remained. Although I’m not riding him yet (for a variety of reasons), I have some degree of hope that this may in fact be the answer we’ve been looking for.