Holistic Information

Whether you are a horse or a human, Bowen Therapy is only part of the picture for keeping healthy in the long term.
Fundamentally, our bodies are cell factories and they need the right raw materials to make healthy cells. So you need to have good nutrition which supports putting the right molecules into your body. Also you need to minimise the load on your liver and kidneys to help them to stay in good shape. So ensuring that nutrition minimises the "toxic" load on the system is also important.

With people, posture, exercise, lifestyle, mental/emotional state are all important to our health.
With horses, posture, exercise, hoof balance, saddle fit, dentistry, lifestyle (daily routine), mental/emotional state all important to long term health and management



Good hydration is the most important factor in good nutrition. Our bodies are over 70% water!

Some fundamental principles for nutrition
Sugar fuels inflammatory processes and is a major contributor to the big 3 health issues in the UK :- cancer, heart disease, diabetes. It is the major factor in obesity and also in arthritis. If you have stomach issues such as IBS then sugar is likely to be a significant trigger. If you want to be healthy in the long term, minimise the amount of sugar in your diet.

Wheat is the second most likely cause of nutritional issues. It fuels inflammatory processes, increases mucous levels in the body and slows the digestion. If you are looking to improve your health through improved nutrition, eliminating or minimising wheat in the diet would be a good plan.

Dairy products made from cows milk are also pro inflammatory. Additionally they affect the hormone balance in the body and promote mucous production. Contrary to popular belief, Cow's milk does not provide a good source of calcium for the body. Almonds provide a much better source of calcium. Almond milk can be a good substitute for cows milk. Products made from Sheep's milk and Goat's milk are generally less likely to cause inflammatory issues.

I have many clients who have turned their lives around by eliminating sugar, wheat and dairy from their diets in conjunction with a few Bowen sessions.


Some simple changes to how we sit or stand can have a significant impact on long term pain free life. Many of us spend time sitting in front of a computer so it is really important that the chair is set up correctly for good sitting posture. The desk and monitor must be at the right height to encourage good posture (freedom from neck, back and shoulder pain) and the keyboard/mouse must be correct to minimise RSI type issues.
How we use our body can have a significant impact on long term wear and tear !
For example, our knee joint was designed to hinge in one plain only. If you walk or run with your feet in incorrect alignment relative to your knee you will wear your knee joint faster. Or if you arch your lower back too much, particularly when sitting, you are likely to cause wear on the inter vertebral discs in this part of your body.


Exercise is important to stimulate your metabolism. It can also serve to strengthen areas of your body to improve and maintain your posture. Your mental/emotional well being will benefit from exercise. The cortisol produced by Stressful lifestyles is rebalanced by exercise..
One factor which many people are unaware of it that your lymphatic system, which transports waste from the tissues, is pumped by contraction of the muscles in the extremity of the body. Long periods sitting still is not good for your lymphatic system.
The exercise regime which is appropriate is specific to each individual.
Here are some principles!
To boost your metabolism, short sharp exercise sessions which get your heart pumping and get you out of breath are more beneficial than endurance type exercise.
If alleviating stiffness is a factor, regular gentle movement will be beneficial.
Highly repetitive / high impact exercise needs to consider long term effects on the major joints and muscles involved. It is fundamentally important that the joints are being used in correct alignment.
For those of us that are too busy for find time to exercise, remember the difference between zero and one minute is vast !


Only a few hundred generations ago we were all hunter gatherers living in highly primitive ways and eating raw or simple cooked food. We didn't have chairs, we squatted. Stress came in the form of an immediate fight or flight response and then the threat was over. Survival of the fittest was the way of life. Our bodies relied on their own inbuilt healing mechanism, complimented with some natural healing remedies which were available in the nearby habitat.
Current medicine tends to focus on symptoms rather than on the root cause. Too Often we reach for medication which suppresses the symptoms thus the body's natural healing mechanisms do not get triggered, or at least get dampened. Stress can be an ongoing factor where "the monster" is continually present and there is no fight or flight response to use the adrenaline produced.
Often, materialistic goals can become more important than the happiness of ourselves and our families. Maybe it is time to give some consideration to how holistic your lifestyle is.

Mental/Emotional Health

Healthy mind, healthy body. The brain and central nervous system is in control of all of your body's processes. Mental tension equals physical tension. Physical tension equals mental tension. If your are in pain it is hard to be happy, or to be focussed. If you are mentally uptight your muscles will also be uptight. Negative emotions will use focus and energy more usefully directed towards your health and happiness.
Therapy sessions such as NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) or The Healer Within can be offered to improve Mental and Emotional Health



My first principle of equine nutrition is similar to humans - keep the sugar out of the diet. Horses were not designed to eat sugar!!!!!

A horse should mainly be fed on good quality forage. They evolved to graze - eat most of the time. Their digestion is less reliant on enzyme digestion than humans with a much greater bias towards bacterial digestion. The bacterial digestion takes place in the hind gut and maintaining the balance in the hindgut is of paramount importance.

Even though a horse's nutrition is essentially more simple than that of a person, it is a huge subject and more easily covered when I come to treat your horse than trying to provide information on this website.
However, there are 2 topics which I have chosen to include information on here - Ulcers (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome) and Grass Toxicity.


Why has equine gastric ulcers syndrome reached epidemic levels ?
The list below is by no means complete but may provide some areas to think about.

Stabling - more bias towards stabled horses with less time spent grazing
Use of NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs e.g. Bute cause damage to the stomach lining)
Molasses added to horse feed became popular about 30 years ago
Travelling horses to shows without a haynet in the lorry
Change of bedding materials - historically if a stabled horse ran out of food it could always eat its straw
Stress in humans - horses pick up on human emotions 
Chemical wormers are more harsh than they used to be
Bot flies - bot larvae cause lesions in the gut. Worm counts do not identify bot infestation. Herbal wormers do not address bot issues, most chemical wormers do not address bot issues 
Saddle fit issues - pain in T12 area affects the spinal nerves for the stomach. Saddle trees were historically much flatter than most are now. Deep seat trees are too banana shaped and generally rock at about T12

Horses should be fed largely forage diets, should be kept at grass as much as possible and should not be allowed to go for long periods without food in the stomach. They should not be ridden on an empty stomach - hay offered before exercise periods will create a barrier in the stomach which helps prevent acid splashing during exercise. Where possible stress should be minimized and consideration should be given to using a supplement to prevent / manage ulcer issues in horses which are travelling or competing.

Grass Toxicity

Does your horses behaviour change is spring or autumn ?
Here are some of the patterns which I have come across :-
Unwillingness or Inability to do ridden work eg horse does not want to trot, or trots ok but no push from behind in canter
Does not want to be ridden at all - very grumpy when tacking up and wont stand still to let rider mount
Looks wild
Behaving badly / bucking (too much spring grass)

There is a whole raft of changes associated with spring grass eg mineral imbalance, high fructose, fluctuating protein levels.

Laminitis is a well recognized problem resulting from exposure to grass but there is range of less well defined conditions which may affect the health and performance of your horse which should be considered. Horses which are receiving the major portion of their nutrition from grass will inevitably be affected at some level by the fluctuations in quality which are fuelled by changes in the British weather.

When grass is growing potassium will be concentrated in the shoots and sodium is concentrated in the roots. Short rapidly growing grass has the greatest sodium / potassium imbalance. Too much potassium in the diet is likely to block the absorption of calcium and magnesium.

Also when last did you have lime spread on your grazing ? Do you know the magnesium content of your soil ? Our soils may already be low in Calcium and Magnesium. It is hard to test for a deficiency in these 2 minerals in your horse. Blood tests are not a good indicator. If calcium levels in the blood are low then calcium will be taken from the bones to bring it back to acceptable levels. Only 10% of the body's magnesium is stored in the blood and a single blood test may not accurately reflect what is going on at the muscles, nerve cells or brain.

Calcium is required to contract muscles, magnesium is required to relax them. Both calcium and magnesium are key to correct function of the brain. Magnesium is also an important constituent of nerve cells.  Problems such as headshaking are almost certainly linked to grass /mineral imbalance issues.


How your horse uses himself during exercise will have a big effect on his long term soundness. For example, if he is ridden on the forehand, you will be putting extra strain on the structures in the front leg which long term may  cause soundness issues. Correct training can rehabilitate previous injuries in conjunction with appropriate therapy. Use of training aids which "force" horses into a specific outline can be counter productive as the horse may be using incorrect muscles to achieve this. At all times, training needs to work with the horse at whatever stage he is currently at.

Exercise programs need to be consistent with what the horse is expected to do. If his competition demands require galloping cross country then a large percentage of his fitness training should take place at gallop.  

Hoof Balance

If what's on the bottom is wrong everything above it will also be wrong ! Very often poor hoof balance can be the beginning of physical issues. For example, long toes on the hind feet will cause excessive force on hind limb suspensory ligaments, hocks, stifles, and sacroiliac. Contracted heels on front feet are likely to cause heel pain which may lead to more serious issues such as navicular syndrome. Feet which have incorrect medial / lateral balance will cause strain in the collateral ligaments of the joints above as well as other structures in the leg. It is important that you are able to work with your farrier or trimmer and if appropriate your vet (feet xrays are an invaluable source of information) to ensure you are achieving the best possible hoof balance for your horse.

Saddle fit

Here is a few factors to consider
Curvature of the saddle tree relative to the horses spine - the tree structure needs to be as similar as possible to the profile of the horse's back, with "flocking" used to raise the structure appropriately to provide clearance from the spine
Length of the tree - it must not put pressure beyond the last rib as the lumbar area is weak compared to thoracic spine
Width of tree - the tree should run parallel with the slope of the horses wither / rib structure behind the scapula
Symmetry - the panels of the saddle must be symmetrical relative to the tree structure otherwise the saddle will not stay centred on the horse
Balance of rider in the saddle
Appropriate for the purpose it will be used for


Regular dental checks are important. If your horse's teeth are not balanced he is unlikely to want to take a contact in a balance way when working. However excessive dental  work may lead to problems later in life. Excessive use of gag during dental work can cause issues for the jaw. 

Lifestyle (daily routine)

Horses like to live in herds as grazing animals. The like rolling in mud. In general their tolerance to cold is better than their tolerance to heat. Take these into consideration where ever possible when setting your horses daily routine.

Mental/emotional state

Happy horses are more likely to be healthy horses. Horses who have a good leader are more likely to feel secure. Consistency and dependability is important to horses.