An Arthritic Appaloosa Gets a New Lease on Life

Rocky*, a 29 year-old black Appaloosa gelding, had been Denise’s horse since he was just 11 months old and she was a 17 year-old teenager. They had grown up together and were deeply bonded. As they were out trail riding one day, Rocky got hung up in hidden wire and took a nasty fall.  Denise slowly led her horse home and called the vet.


Denise followed the vet’s instructions and Rocky’s cuts healed. But months later, Rocky still couldn’t canter.  The vet explained that Rocky had significant arthritis and the fall seemed to have aggravated it.  Given his age and degree of arthritis, Denise doubted that she would ever get to canter her beloved mount again.


When Denise heard about my work, she asked me to work with her horse, hoping that I could help him become a little more comfortable in his geriatric body.  She warned me that although Rocky was a senior citizen, he was not always quiet to handle. And by the way, he usually didn’t like people touching him!


Luckily, Rocky accepted my contact almost immediately. I used gentle, light movements to help relax his nervous system.  The Appy had many parts of his body where movement seemed blocked. And he had lots of sore, tight muscles.  As I softly supported these areas, they began to release. Rocky soon appeared blissful.


As I was working with his hindquarters, I noticed evidence of diarrhea.  Denise told me that he had chronic diarrhea for well over six months and she had tried “everything under the sun” to remedy it.  Nothing had worked.


After the session, Denise led Rocky back to his paddock.  His stride was longer and freer, and we were both pleased at that change.  But there was more to come.  While Denise was watching her Appy in the paddock that evening, he spontaneously began cantering.  She hadn’t seen him canter since his accident, even when she asked him to. Naturally, she was delighted with that improvement.


But then Denise noticed something else.  Instead of the usual “cow plop” piles, she saw fresh balls of manure!  Denise could understand how the session could enhance her horse’s soundness, but she was pleasantly flabbergasted that my hands-on work seemed to remedy her horse’s diarrhea problem.  I explained that I helped bring about a generally quieting of the horse’s nervous system, leading to improvements in the entire body.  Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, originator of the Feldenkrais Method ® for people, taught that a state of health does not result from treating parts of a system, but from a global change of state of the nervous system. And that’s what it can do for animals too.


I worked with this lovely Appaloosa a few more times to help support his progress. And Denise was grateful to once again enjoy cantering her faithful horse!

*Names have been changed.

Mary Debono
Mary Debono, is a Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner who teaches people how to increase mobility and confidence while minimizing the effects of aging and injury. She is the author of the award-winning, Amazon #1 bestseller, "Grow Young with Your Dog," and the creator of Debono Moves. Mary travels internationally to teach workshops with an equine, canine/feline or human focus. She also offers online consultations. Mary lives in sunny Southern California with her husband, horse, dog and cat. Visit her at www.DebonoMoves.com
Mary Debono
Mary Debono

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