Testimonials - Equine Cranio Sacral
"When I got Flin he was a 5 year old just turning 6. He was a gangly French Trotter and as soon as I saw him I knew he was the horse for me. He was the replacement for my old mare that I had owned for 19 years and knew she wouldn’t be around for very much longer.
For the first 6 months we spent time hacking and getting to know each other. I decided to order a made to measure saddle for him as we were finding it hard to get a saddle to fit and to stay level on his back whilst being ridden saddles all slipped to the right. The saddle fitter came, watched him walk up and down and she said he is walking crooked, and he was, no I had seen it, it was so obvious! His left hind was actually landing just on the inside of where his offside fore had been and his right hind was way out to the right of his offside fore. I got the vets out to check him and he was dropping his left hip and crooked. She referred me to an equine physiotherapist. The physiotherapist came and she confirmed he was dropping his hip and not moving correctly, although nothing was obvious to the cause, so she recommended he went for lameness workup with the vets.
Flin was referred to the local vet hospital and went for a 3 day lameness workup that ended up as 5 days. They advised on finalisation of all tests that he had what looked like a bone spur in one stifle and what looked like a rough piece of cartilage in his other stifle and recommended arthroscopy asap to see what was actually going on in his joints. He also had a sore back from moving in the way that he was, but that was secondary to his stifles.
The day of his surgery was awful. Just waiting for the call that he had come through general anaesthetic was all I wanted to hear. Thankfully, I got the call mid morning and he was up and fine and the vet would be in touch later with the findings. I got the call later that day to say his joints were healthy and strong and that all they had found was some soft tissue inflammation that would be treated with IRAP injections.
Flin had 6 weeks of box rest with IRAP injections weekly into his stifles for 3 of the weeks. The day came to see how he was. After veterinary and physiotherapy treatments costing £6000 plus ………. he just walked the same, crooked and hips unlevel!
He went out into a small field and had from November 2008 to March 2009 as field rest with monthly physiotherapy treatments. The day came to start him in work again and I had the saddle fitter out to sort his saddle that kept slipping to the side and we used a wow korrector pad to level it up. As he was worked he started to level up and get stronger, but he was still crooked. We continued with schooling and hacking for the summer, he never really worked to his full potential and although sound was just not quite right, but nothing was obvious as to the problem and his physiotherapist left us with exercises to complete to see if he improved.
I thought it was the saddle, so went through so many trying to get one that stayed level. I finally decided on getting a made to measure saddle and had the fitting and ordered the saddle.
In the 12 weeks waiting for the saddle to be made he was showing more obvious signs that he was uncomfortable in his ridden work, showing resistances, he then slipped on the yard and was very sore through his back and left hind even more so. I got the vet and physiotherapist out straight away and they confirmed he was dropping his hip and not using his left hind fully and his back muscles were sore again. He continued with physiotherapy treatments and I field rested him again from November 2009 to January 2010.
In the meantime I read up on crooked horses, foot balance and treeless saddles as a way of making things better for him. I even had a distant reading for him from Margrit Coates and her words of ‘He’ll never be a riding horse or do what you want him to do’ and ‘The pain is so entrenched and has been there such a long time’ stuck in my mind and I was so upset, but I just wouldn’t give up on him. She gave the areas of where he said he was in pain. I had a physiotherapy appointment booked for him the next day so asked her to check these areas. He showed no sign of any pain responses to these areas so I just wrote off the reading to experience and moved on to my next thoughts.
I could see with my own eyes that his feet were unbalanced and completely a different shape to when he arrived. I kept asking my farrier if he could do something about his feet and he kept saying ‘No, that’s the way his feet grow’ The more I read on foot balance and looked at the stance of horses with unbalanced feet the more I recognised in Flin the same symptoms.
I put a post on Horse and Hound Online and a lovely member recommended me a new farrier and got me onto his list. He managed to balance his feet up the best he could for his first trim in January 2010. (By his 3rd set his feet were balanced and looked so much better.) All four feet were out of balance and his offside hind was the worst. The moment I turned him back out in the field after his first shoeing with new farrier he walked away from me and he looked very nearly straight! I couldn’t believe the difference! I stood and watched him walking and he didn’t revert back to his old way of going.
I started ridden work again and decided the way to go on the saddle front was treeless. I took a gamble on a Barefoot London saddle and it worked for us as I could shim it to level it up. I still needed to shim one side of the saddle as he was still muscled uneven but we worked at walk for weeks to strengthen him up. He still felt uneven to sit on but to watch he looked very nearly straight.
When we started the trotting work he wasn’t right in his transitions and felt like he was all over the place, unsure where he was putting his feet. He still wasn’t using himself right despite his balanced feet. Once again it was back to some reading and investigating.
I realised that although his feet were corrected, his body had got used to the old way of going. I looked into McTimmony and other treatments but was unsure which way to go. He was going down the route of becoming an expensive field ornament fast and Margrit Coates words rung in my head. I just couldn’t leave him to that fate. I needed to find something to clear his body and ‘reset’ it.
A friend on my yard was looking at treatments for head shaking as her horse was showing signs of head shaking in spring. It was nearly March and she wanted someone to treat him before he started. She had read in a magazine about craniosacral treatments which was said to help. She found Julie Houghton and she was recommended and highly thought of by members of HHO. I said I would share the visit for Flin as I now had nothing to lose. I was prepared to try anything again.
The day of Julie’s visit came. I was hopeful of the treatment working but very apprehensive that we will still be at square one once treatment done. I had no need to worry as Julie made me feel very relaxed straight away and put me at ease. She started by watching Flin walk up and down. She explained what she was seeing then led him for me so I could see exactly what she was seeing. He was still not using his left hind correctly and his hips were unlevel and he was not quite straight. His whole body had a twist to the left that I hadn’t noticed and this explained why the saddles always needed lifting at the right side to get them to sit level and stay there. He looked very asymmetric from behind, which is a view that I don't get to see as I am always leading him!!! I felt awful as it was so obvious he wasn’t right from what I could see from behind whilst he was led for me. I thought I would be needing the vets again from what I could see.
Julie then took a picture of Flin stood square. We then went back into the stable where she touched him and looked at him from all angles. She started feeling from his neck down his back then showed me his tight muscles in his buttocks, hamstrings and the muscle between his back legs. She showed me his breathing that only lifted his rib cage at the bottom and how he was restricted there too. She just held her fingers across his Sacroiliac and he fidgeted to get away till he started to relax to it, as it released. She then started work on his buttocks, slowly rubbing the muscles to release tension then just hand and finger pressure on his back and buttocks. These hand movements were done around areas where she said he had reactions to pain. His response was so obvious when she laid her hands on a painful area (which were the areas he had problems with, but I hadn't told her!) She found the problem areas in his right side of his neck. She worked releasing his rib cage, diaphragm, lungs, pectorals, top of near side front leg and over his whole body in general before working around his head. More interestingly they were all the areas that Margrit had mentioned but my physiotherapist said were fine!
Before she got half way round his body he had started to relax and breathe fully using his ribs and breathing upwards towards his spine, (without people seeing it it is very hard to explain, so I hope your still with me on this!!) He then started licking and chewing, then he did an amazing stretch that started from his head and made it down right to his bottom, like a cat that stretches up through their back and tucks their bottom under to stretch. This is the moment that I went tingly all over and the release I felt at this moment actually made me cry!! I was left with goose bumps up my back and round my neck with tears in my eyes!!! The moment will stay with me forever! Flin then relaxed and Julie carried on her work. She explained what she was finding and feeling as she worked away. I could actually see him with trembles on his skin and she explained this was the pain release responding, then it would ease off and his face would drop into relaxation and relief. Once she had done his head and in his mouth he couldn't stop yawning!!! In all the two years I have had him I have never seen him yawn. It wasn't till she asked if he ever yawned that I said actually I have never seen him do it, then he wouldn't stop!!! He was standing square, using his weaker leg to support whilst stood in the stable half way through the treatment.
Once finished we watched him walk up and down again and the difference was amazing! His hips were level, he had the same swing through them both and he turned the corner using his left hind to step across and under and his foot falls sounded equal. He also looked straight through his body and his foot placement.
Julie then took another picture as you get a report on the treatment with before and after pictures that Julie emails when written up. The difference in Flin was instant. His body felt like he had lovely warmth all over his skin and he stood square but looked at ease with his body. Very hard to explain but he was like a different horse in his stance. I had to give him 24 hours rest then ride to see how he was. She left me with some movements to do to help him stay this way and some ridden exercises.
I rode Flin 48 hours after his treatment. Half expecting his trot work to be the same and his transitions to be shambles but.......... OMG he was like a different horse!!! I really am amazed at the difference. Other people on the yard could see and hear the difference in his footsteps too! He used to shake his head when I tightened the girth, even though I'd start off very slack with it. He used to shake his head in discomfort every time girth went up holes. This started after his fall and she picked up on his pain here and treated it. After his treatment he stopped this completely! He hasn’t done it since!
I rode in the school and walked around activating his hind legs as Julie had instructed me to do this first time I rode, so he realised he could do it. Once activated he stayed working like that. Active, level, even and using his hind end instead of dragging from his front end. We did some shallow loops in walk and worked on correct bends and he still worked well.
I had someone watching him from behind to make sure his hips were moving evenly and level. He was even in his hips and he had a lovely swing to his hind end! Fantastic!! I decided to try a trot as his transitions into trot used to be shabby, very uneven in strides and rhythm once in the trot. Well…… he glided into a lovely active light trot and stayed regular in rhythm and worked from behind! Wow! Changed rein and on his stiff side he was a bit rushed, but not in a bad way just a little bit more excited by this time, but schooling and exercises to help supple him will improve this. He really did feel so different! A much improved horse who was willing to work.
He stands different in the stable. He stands square and his stance looks more square and supported. He used to look like his tummy was slung low but now it’s lifted up and his back is carrying itself, even just stood in the stable.
Every day I saw something different as he improved daily. Things I had taken to be just the way he behaved, disappeared and it wasn’t till he stopped doing them that I even realised they were there! His face was soft and he was such a happier boy. His work improved no end and my instructor saw the difference in him instantly and has been pleasantly surprised at the work he has been showing us he is now capable of, which as of this time last year we would have never believed he was capable of.
He has gone from strength to strength and the total cost for the first treatment was the same as one physiotherapy session, which I had been having month after month with no change in him or sorting the actual underlying problems.
Flin has had another treatment since his 1st treatment just to make sure he was all clear. On the last visit from Julie (3rd) we had an Equestrian Balancing Treatment which works on us both whilst mounted. It worked wonders for my position and once again my instructor could see the difference in my position and how I was more effective in my position and riding.
I am pleased to say that finally I can say Flin is better! After £6k plus of veterinary treatment, physiotherapy and numerous saddles that none of them actually got to the bottom of what was going on or cured him, it was Julie and her Cranio Sacral treatment that finally got my boy right. At a total cost that was less than a new rug! Lol!! I can’t thank her enough for giving me back my dream horse.
We are competing this year and I have treated him to a Heather Moffett treeless dressage saddle as he is working so well the purchase will be well used!
A very happy owner and horse!