28 May 1999


WHAT I am about to write seems too good to be true. I seem to have stumbled across a "cure-all", says Tamara Farrant. Our neighbour, Beverley Dowdall, started training in a specific form of massage therapy 18 months ago. We acted as her willing guinea pigs to see what she could do for our miscellaneous conditions.

The therapy, known as the Bowen Technique, is a relatively new type of treatment here, but was developed by an Australian, Tom Bowen, in the 1940s. It involves specific moves across tendons and muscles using thumbs and fingers to apply a rolling action. These moves seems to create energy surges which bring the body back in to balance. While this can easily be imagined for back conditions, the fact that it reduced my four-year-old daughters asthma and burnt out her veruccas is nothing short of amazing.

I then heard that Bowen was being used on horses, farm animals and pets.

I called in the nearest equine practitioner, Ian Fields from Hurst Green, East Sussex to see what he would make of my thoroughbred mare, Paddy, who lost the condition on her hind quarters about six weeks ago, and started doing the occasional buck.

When he arrived, all 6ft 6in of him, his quiet manner made him a real hit with the dogs and horses who queued up for his attentions, yet he is relatively new to working with horses. After being brought up on a farm in Goudhurst he spent 20 years working in London as a banker and management consultant.

&#42 Empathy methods

Without the preconceptions of a traditional horse background he has chosen to handle horses using the empathy methods and ideas of Monty Roberts and Pat Parelli. After watching my horse walk with a slightly restricted action behind, he lightly touched her spine, and announced, to my surprise, that the root of her problem was in her shoulders. He went through the routine that I had undergone on my neighbours table: rolling points on the body then walking away for two or three minutes. I had always thought that my neighbour wished to get away from my chatter, and preferred going off the do her household chores.

But Ian gave me the spooky truth. The theory is that the body needs time to respond to each bout of pressure, and the therapist has to go outside that persons energy field so the body can balance itself. This is a difficult concept to digest, although acupuncture works on a similar principle.

During the treatment Paddy showed slight twinges at times, although was generally relaxed. Her breathing and veins became more pronounced to show that her body had been triggered into some kind of activity. Forty minutes on and after about a dozen moves my mare walked down the drive with a long powerful action. I thought I might be imagining things, but a friend who was with me saw the change.

A week later – again was I imagining things – Paddy already had signs of a rounded bottom. Her pointed angular hip and a back end like a donkey was giving way to a powerful rounded shape. Ian went through a similar routine to last time, slightly altering pressure and times on some points. I will have to wait to see if she has fully returned to her old self, because she has a hot foot – probably due to a sore frog.

If Bowen really does work as well in horses as it can in humans, there is huge potential for treating a range of psychological, wind or back conditions, and giving a boost before a competition or race.

Details: European College of Bowen Studies tel (01373-461873)

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