A daily Palpation Exercise…
Often I am asked when I am out and about in the field working with horses and their owners, what it is that people can do daily for their horse to promote good health. So in today’s blog I want to take up the topic of the value of touch.
We all need touch. As babies it is now scientifically proven that human touch is vital for growth and development. As social creatures we thrive on touch and connection. And so do our horses. Between horses, touch is used to bond, educate, discipline, communicate and caution. As herd animals, touch is vital for physical and emotional wellbeing. Daily grooming and itching, displaying affection, play and leisure and establishing hierarchy are just some of the ways horses use touch to maintain their health.
The touch we offer our horses, as well as the quality of touch we receive from our horses, can deeply impact the quality of our horse-human relationship. Not only will our horses learn to like us more with good quality touch, but instinctively, just through the value of our touch, they will come to know our personality and place in the hierarchy. If we truly want to bond with our horse, touch, and good touch is essential.
So what is ‘good’ touch, and why can it help us and our horses?
In my opinion, good touch is touch that is gentle – yet firm; connected – but not imposing; centred – yet open; quiet – yet solid. Good touch is something that can be practised and developed, and your horse will be there for you every step of the way to give you feedback!
Daily checking of your horse will give you intimate insights into his energetic balance. Begin by gently running your hands over your horse to feel for warm or cool areas. This will tell you if there is inflammation present or if there is any circulation problems over the body.
You may feel for cuts and scrapes, unusual bumps or swellings, areas that are soft or hard. This easy touch assessment will also tell you if an area of the body is deficient or requiring some nourishment or healing support. Getting to know your horse in this way is a great way to catch imbalances early on in the piece before ill health sets in. It is also a good technique for developing your touch sensitivity and connection with your horse.
As a general rule, begin at the head and work in slow sweeping motions down your horse’s body, being sure to take your time and make it an enjoyable experience for both you and your horse. Attune your senses to pick up smell, touch, sight and your sixth sense. Look for basic signs of relaxation in your horse and be sure to notice any discomfort – flattening of the ears, moving away from you, tail swishing etc. Notice anything unusual manifesting in your horse’s body or emotions.
The key to good touch is the practise of being present. If you find your thoughts wandering, bring your attention back to your hands, and your breath, and the feel of your horses body. Your horse will know if you are connected, or if you are merely going through the motions!
This daily observation will place you in good stead for diagnosing and treating small energetic changes in your horse’s wellbeing. The keys to great wellbeing lies in monitoring and correcting these small changes, before they present themselves as a full expression of dis-ease. This will be discussed in greater depth in other articles and posts and through the application of acupressure massage.
Please share your thoughts. I would love to hear of any observations you have had around the topic of touch.