Mary, I just wanted to thank you for your book, Grow Young with Your Dog, and the Connected Breathing Meditation.
“My 17 old dog, Emmi, had survived a year and a half from cancer and losing half her liver. Last July she started to decline and was having respiratory distress. I did the Connected breathing meditation with her. She seemed to relax , her breath eased. She passed a week later but the meditation gave us both relief, and connected us forever. She died peacefully asleep next to me.
“Thank you so much. It is hard to describe the comfort and peace I received. I still have two dogs and we meditate and do yoga together.” – Robin Robertson
“Hi Mary, just a quick update and a picture of Nikki standing to eat her dinner the day after her visit with you. No hand feeding or water bottle! She is doing great! Still a bit wobbly on her back legs but she has been wandering and exploring her yard. She sat sphinx style looking out the living room window part of the day. Nikki is also eating better. It’s wonderful to see her walking around with her tail in the air! We are grateful for your help.”
– Ron and Paula Johnson
Nikki is a beautiful 11 1/2 year-old Alaskan Malamute who had gradually lost the strength and coordination of her hind legs, making walking and even standing very difficult for this large dog. In addition, her left front paw would knuckle under, causing Nikki to stumble and fall. Since standing was so difficult for Nikki, Ron and Paula had to hand-feed Nikki and squirt water into her mouth from a sport bottle while she was lying down. Neither steroids nor non-steroidal medications (NSAIDs) were effective in helping her regain her ability to stand and walk easily.
Since Nikki wasn’t responding to medication and her quality of life was poor, her family was heartbroken at the prospect of losing her. They thought that they were out of options for their beloved dog. Luckily, Ron discovered Debono Moves on the internet. Happily, one session with Mary produced significant improvements, as noted in Ron and Paula’s note above. Nikki continued to improve and you can see how well she is moving in the short video clip below. Ron and Paula call her their “miracle dog”!
To see Nikki for yourself, please view this short video. She truly is a “Debono Moves Miracle Dog”!
I first brought Roscoe to you because he was having lots of stiffness and pain from arthritis. He is 13 years old and also has Diabetes Insipidus which has severely curtailed his activity level. Roscoe absolutely loves his Debono Moves sessions and I have noticed so much improvement in his walking. He has stopped favoring his right front leg and he really wants to go for walks (although short) once again. And he is getting up the steps to our house easier than before and navigates the doggie door to the backyard with ease.
“As you can see from the picture, he now has good mobility in his neck, so he will undoubtedly pass his driving test! LOL“
– Leslie Leech
“Mary, I wanted to let you know that Tony is so much better this morning. He’s using his right front leg properly and not dragging his toe so much. Your work miracles. Thanks!”
– Janie Emerson
Tony is a West Highland Terrier who was attacked by a coyote about 18 months before I met him. The neurological damage he suffered was so severe that the emergency veterinarian suggested that he be euthanized. Thanks to his caretakers’ diligence and treatment, Tony did recover, although he still was not using his right front leg well. A Debono Moves session 18 months after the injury helped him use his right front leg more effectively.
“I recently had the pleasure of hosting Mary for a 3 day horse/human/dog clinic. In every case we saw improvement in movement and function. It was wonderful to see that everyone who participated felt immediate improvements in freedom of movement and reduction in pain and stiffness. I can’t recommend Mary and her work enough. If you have a chance to work with her or attend a clinic don’t hesitate.” – Leah Astrup, Ann Arbor, MI
“Mary, the (dog/cat) class was awesome! Everyone loved it. The private session was fantastic too. Thanks so much!” – Sarah Hauser, New York, NY
“Hi, Mary: My name is Tim and I am a disabled veteran with PTSD. My service dog Pax gets overwhelmed with my symptoms and pulls away from me when I lead him. I feel sometimes I take and ask so much of him, he gets burned out. I watched your video and now he is following me everywhere. I did Debono Moves on his neck in the sit position and he went to sleep in my hands, still sitting up. You are on to something big, if people would slow down and listen to their animals.
I am looking forward to your upcoming video. Thanks for giving me back my service dog.”
– Tim Taylor
“I cannot thank you enough for all that you offered me and my dog, Charlie Brown. I truly believe that your touch helped Charlie Brown be much, much more comfortable, relaxed, and restful over these last couple of months. After your sessions, he walked better and was noticeably more comfortable in his own body. In his final weeks, that is the biggest blessing and gift I could have ever asked for. Also, seeing the care and compassion you extended to him permeated me, and as his *mom* I also was more relaxed that he was receiving such loving care. Thank you also for your time and skill. I have felt a great connection with you and have really enjoyed my time and sessions with you and Charlie Brown. Thank you!!!”
– Julie Lively
“I know I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – you are incredible. What you are able to do is amazing.
“I could tell even last night how much better Misty felt. This morning she is feeling soooo much better. She is smiling again, she always smiles when she feels good. She wants to play again and is biting at my dangling hand as we walk down to the feed the horses, something she does when she feels happy and playful. I’m keeping her quiet and letting her rest – against her wishes. It’s so wonderful to see how much better she feels already. I love it when she smiles.
“Thank you again.”
– Cathy Dameron
“My Westie, Magic, developed a problem with his right hind leg after his neuter surgery. I had tried everything, but nothing worked nor held for more than a few days to a week. We noticed a dramatic difference in two visits with Mary and wonderful results after four. A miracle after 1 ½ years of half fixes.”
– Janie Emerson
“What you taught us in your workshop about listening touch has been quite helpful with Emma. I remember particularly one evening when I was sitting on the bed with Emma draped over my lap, and I wanted to work on her. I put my hand on her ribs, and she immediately went into a panicky “something bad is going to happen” mode. So I just left my hand there without doing anything else, and after a few minutes, she got comfortable enough to let me do more. I could see she was starting to enjoy herself, and at one point, she let out a big sigh and seemed deeply relaxed; she eventually fell asleep. I’ve been able to do the same thing with other procedures that make Emma uncomfortable.”
– Akiko T.
“Mary Debono brings such integrity, passion, and skill to her work with animals and people. She has an exquisite understanding of energy and movement. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with such a skilled teacher and healer.”
–Sharon B. Franklin, DVM
“She is working miracles on my old boy….he’s jumping and running! She said he’s doing so well that, after only two treatments, she doesn’t need to see him for a while.”
– Michele and Jackson, a large 15 year-old mixed-breed dog
“There are not many clinicians as helpful, kind, knowledgeable, and patient as Mary Debono. Her methods are as simple as they are effective, and I just want to give a big shout out to her and all the participants of the last weekends clinic for a wonderful and educational experience! Can’t wait to have her back and for all of those who were unable to attend, it really, really is life changing, both the for horse and human. Amazing stuff! Thank you Mary for being so clear, helpful, and intuitive and sharing your gift with us!” – Elaine Hayes, owner/trainer Lake Norman Dressage Center, Mooresville, North Carolina
(Sept. 2017) I recently had the honor of giving a Feldenkrais® lesson to world-renowned veterinarian and Michigan State University professor, Robert Bowker, VMD, PhD. Horse feet geeks (like me!) are probably familiar with Dr. Bowker’s ground-breaking hoof research.
About seven years ago, Dr. Bowker had a severe, debilitating injury to his left upper leg. Despite physical therapy and surgery, walking has been difficult. Robert shuffled a lot and stumbled every few steps. He even had to look down at the ground to move forward. Because of the lack of power in his left leg, he didn’t walk in a straight line.
After our one-hour Feldenkrais session, Dr. Bowker stopped stumbling. He could walk in a straight line and no longer had to look at the ground. Without any extra effort, his legs lift higher. He’s able to cover more ground and walking is enjoyable again.
Dr. Bowker was amazed and fascinated by these dramatic improvements. I was, as always, grateful to Moshe Feldenkrais for gifting us with such a powerful way to help others. I love this work! – Mary Debono
I can’t believe the difference — in my legs, my back, the way I’m walking. This is incredible! I hope something can be worked out so you can come again—and again! Really, Mary, I’m sold. Thank you, thank you,” -Sandy Johnson, Los Angeles, CA
“I can’t tell you how loosened up I feel after the session. It is like I’ve regained 40% more mobility and the walking feels different too. I went right next door to my neighbor, who has real neck shoulder problems, and insisted she have a session with you. “
– Dr. S.S., Encinitas, CA
“The morning before I was to ride with a well-known dressage clinician, Vicky introduced me to your Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement® lessons (exercises). We did one of your exercises that you created specifically for riders.
“It was amazing. I was so glad she had shared that with me, as I managed to get my hip into a position I know I could not have managed without those exercises. It was fateful!
“My little Morgan was not properly broken out, and it has really created a lot of inherited problems. One of which is, if he gets a little out of balance, he RUNS.
“So this time when he bounded off, I was determined to not brace, but in the past even that doesn’t always work, but with the help of your exercises, I managed to get my outside hip in place, and in one stride, literally, he was doing a lovely light collected canter I could begin pirouette work from. Sorry for the long story, but it was dramatic, and then when we were working half pass, I was also able to get my outside hip in the right place and got some respectable half pass work as well.
“So I owe a huge thanks to Vicky for the introduction and a huge thanks to you for doing the work!” – Brenda Aloff, dressage rider, internationally-known dog trainer and award-winning author
“Having had some time to think and process what has transpired in the days since attending your SENSE Method course, I would like to say that you have contributed hugely to giving me my quality of life back.
“I am thrilled and amazed at how quickly my mind and body has integrated the movements and that I am now almost totally pain free. Unbelievable that it went that fast. I have had whole body pain for about 5 years. How that debilitates a person.
“I also enjoyed the many connectionsthat were brought together, including how important it is for a horse to have feet that are balanced and pain free. You are the first that has commented on it as a clinician and supported it. That was so awesome.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you. Your generosity and gift for teaching is so wonderful and genuine. You made the sessions so comfortable and relaxing, which is the only way I can learn well and I did. You are a gift. To seeing you sooner rather than later.” – Rosemary Melsey, Canada
“Mary, thank you for the great session! I am feeling the difference as I walk and as I sit, too!” – Sandy Johnson, Los Angeles, CA
“Dear Mary, just wanted to say hello and tell you how much the new ATMs you taught me are helping to “unlock” my upper back. We had tons of guests for 5 weeks and too much sitting and traveling really froze the area above my fusion. Stretching and active walking is helping but the crowning glory are the Feldenkrais moves. Thank you.” – Shirley, Nairobi, Kenya (spinal fusion surgery)
“Hi Mary, I purchased the video “Empowering Hips” and followed along last night. Thanks so much! It was very interesting to feel how my body moved differently afterwards.
“Mary, since you are a rider, you will appreciate this: I was circling right and feeling some stiffness in me and the horse with little bend. First, I did ‘the usual’ with little improvement. Then, my brain said “let’s try that movement from last night’s video” … the one where you have arms straight, hands clasped, and you move to the right after unlocking/relaxing around the shoulders, etc. So I imagine that and my left shoulder blade slid right softly and … wait for it … the horse’s left shoulder ‘unlocked’ too and we had a lovely bend. I’ve already gotten great improvements! I love this stuff!!! Thanks again! – Vicky from North Carolina
“Mary, one of my dressage students recently purchased your video and is so amazed at how effective your exercises are. She said, ‘Such a big change for such little effort.’
“She used to struggle with maintaining a soft connection with her horse. After she did your exercise she was really able to keep a soft connection through her shoulders, elbows and wrists. She had the loveliest connection with her horse. She said, ‘My horse likes this!'” – Barbara S., USDF judge and trainer
“Thank you again for a wonderful clinic. I learn so much on many levels when I attend your clinics.
“You are a wonderful teacher and mentor. At the same time, you become the student learning from your students’ knowledge and experiences. I honour that in you. It is a joy to spend time with you.
“I have worked on my horse with the new tools I have learned from your clinic. She LOVED the rib work and I was quite amazed to see her movements become more fluid post session!! Even three days after the session, my aged mare is moving more fluidly. She is like a young filly again!”
– Fernanda Morley, Canada
Thank you for a fantastic clinic! I am already looking forward to next year!! I visited my friends farm this week and tried some of the techniques on one of his mares – it was the most relaxed I have ever seen her. “It was such a pleasure to meet and learn from you – you are a true gem!”
– Debbie Johnson, Canada
“Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop at Petlyn Farm and thank you for all the additional time that you spent with us. I tried the seat bone idea with the breath when I rode my horse and was thrilled with how she responded to the lightest of changes rather than the ‘extreme’ weight aids I’d been using!! I was much straighter and more balanced in the saddle. I hope that Donna can arrange to have you back in the Fall.”
– Elizabeth Sleight, Canada
“Thanks for a wonderful session! It was so much fun to see Maui having fun. She looked so happy and excited to learn.
That has always been my greatest wish. That she enjoy our journey together. Your work supports us immensely in having that kind of relationship. Thank-you!”
– Dana Foreman, San Diego,CA
“Dear Mary and Gary,
Thank you so much, the SENSE workshop was fantastic. Lots of new learning, techniques and awareness to share with my horse. The Feldenkrais movements have been so beneficial for me. I really liked the focus on me the rider. This past week, I definitely noticed a positive difference in my riding and balance. I’ve been doing the ATM’s you included in your booklet, thank you again!
The SENSE method, was a reminder to focus and go even slower in my ground prep before I ride. My horse, Gus, really responded to the added touch before girthing. He thanks you, too!”
– Monica Eng, Tucson, AZ
“Hi Mary, Just wanted to say thanks again for the wonderful experience of attending your workshop. It is comforting to find a process that enables us to overcome many roadblocks that we encounter in life and with horses. I love your positive philosophical approach and your genuine desire to infuse us with your knowledge. The ATM’s were very rejuvenating, I can understand how easy it is to become a loyal follower of Moshe Feldenkrais.
Many thanks to you and Gary!”
– Laura B., Tucson, AZ
“Hi Magic Mary,
My back pain is gone this morning. I’m so grateful for your talent.”
– Elaine A., San Diego, CA
“Hi Mary ! I just wanted to let you know that yesterday I rode for the first time after your session. It was fantastic! Just like I was hoping it would be! My trainer said that I was super centered. I could trot and canter, since my balance was there again. You are really amazing! I cannot thank you enough.”
– Kristiina Lehtonen
First of all, I am really enjoying the Rollercise video. I haven’t used it nearly enough and it took me ages to get organized about purchasing the roller and downloading the video, but I am amazed at how I feel when I finish. It honestly feels as if the floor is coming up and wrapping itself around me. It absolutely stunned me the first time it happened!!
Also, I am incorporating more and more of your work into what I do with the horses. I’m loving starting and ending with rocking; it is so rewarding to see the changes in the horses’ mobility after they’ve been worked on.
The difference was using SENSE Method work as well as my usual ‘stuff’. I thought you’d be pleased to read this. It truly brought home to me how much your work adds a whole other dimension to bodywork and is of great value.”
– Liz S., Toronto, Canada
“Mimi was able to lie down to sleep and roll right after her first SENSE session!
She had injured her right knee two months before and had not been lying down since her accident. She continued to lie down daily after her first session. Thank you for helping Mimi. It’s really made a difference.”
– Alice Knox
“Mary Debono is skilled at making both you, the rider, and your horse feel better than you ever have. Through exercises, workshops and hands-on technique, Mary teaches ways to be more balanced and flexible, whether you have two legs or four.”
– Victoria Cummings, author of Teachings of the Horse
“Mary has been instrumental in keeping myself and my horses balanced and supple. She has an unbelievable gift which she shares in her work.”
– Shannon Peters, FEI dressage competitor
“The horses feel great after Mary works with them. They are balanced, focused, and ready to go.”
– Susie Hutchison, World Cup show jumper and trainer
“If you missed the Chapter-sponsored clinic with Mary Debono, Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and Creator of the SENSE Method, you missed a GREAT clinic! Our Feldenkrais clinic on November 5 was a sell-out and hugely rewarding for the participants.
“Clinician Mary Debono taught attendees about biomechanics and new ways of moving to break old habits. Gentle exercises were used to interrupt ingrained patterns of movement that may be unwittingly leading to asymmetrical movement or even pain. There were many “aha” moments as people unlocked resistance and discovered a new range of motion for their bodies. At the end of the session, bodies felt better aligned, and people were more tuned in to how they moved, and how their movement habits influenced their life and their riding! Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and demand for this clinic was so strong, that we may try to hold another. We’ll keep you posted!”
– San Diego Chapter California Dressage Society Newsletter
“Hi Mary! Just wanted you to know that I am so pain free that I cancelled my PT weekly appointment and will be able to go to Pilates for the 4th week in a row (a new record). Olivia is thrilled with how well Revi and especially Indy are going. Since she’s out on vacation I rode him myself yesterday and no spooking!!!”
– Carol Chilk, Los Angeles, CA
“Hi Mary, I just had to tell you about my “aha” moment at my riding lesson today. On a right canter circle, I have always been pushed out left, my seat bones floating left, motorcycling. Today, I realized I could move my torso independently from my pelvis, so I planted my hips in the saddle, and remembered the feeling when I was on your table, when I had moved my torso around left, then right, till everything was moving independently. I did the same thing on my horse, moved just my torso right, moving her shoulders with my upper body, but my pelvis stayed centered. Oh My Gosh, Molly turned wonderfully, easily, it was a real revelation. I felt focused, in balance. Very exciting, just had to share with you. Thanks, Mary! Until you have separated your body parts, you just don’t know what you don’t know, and you think how you’ve always moved is just fine… we know that’s not true. See you soon.”
– Jan K.
“After recovering from four severed tendons in my knee and my fibula broken in three places after being dragged by a horse, I was walking, but limping and in pain daily. My pain would rotate from my knee, to my lower leg, then alternate feet. This went on for months and I wondered how to stop the cycle. I went to Mary Debono after watching her demonstration at a Holistic Horse Workshop where she described how the brain needs to be retrained after injury, or it holds onto compensating movements. I had a feeling she could help me. After just two sessions, I was walking well enough to go on a 9 mile hike in the Sierras… without pain. I had better posture and learned to walk with intention on that hike after my sessions with Mary. I am now walking normal and no more compensation, sore muscles or pain! Big grateful thanks to Mary for greatly improving my life and ability to walk again! I wish I had gone to her sooner!”
– Nicki Branch, founder of FalconRidge Equine Rescue, Valley Center, CA
“I did the Empowering Hips video yesterday and was astounded at how much my hips opened up. I also realized just how unconscious I am of my body. Great video. My horse will love you for it. And great personal customer service too!”
– Rebecca Gill, VA, U.S.
“I want to thank you for an excellent experience yesterday. I had an overall sense of well-being when I left your office and I do feel more comfortable today. I’m looking forward to seeing you again next Thursday!”
– Donna, San Diego, CA Donna had spine surgery for a ruptured disc, a knee replacement, a total of three knee surgeries, has been diagnosed with degenerated discs and arthritis in her spine and several other joints. She had been receiving steroid injections in her back for pain relief.
“My serve after our first session was my best ever! Everything just flowed through my body and I used much less effort. I served the ball and it rocketed. My opponent said, “Wow! You’ve never done that before!” I have more power in my stroke and I stay relaxed and balanced instead of tensing up. I do those little Feldenkrais movements you showed me before each serve. It’s made a big difference in my game!”
“Had to tell you I (with Barb) had a fun 45 min. ride around the lake on Gus yesterday. We did well and I did not hurt at all! And this morning I did my first run of 3 miles and did not hurt! Thanks so much for helping me heal and get better balanced.”
– Rene T.
“Fantastic! It was a cathartic session and my riding was so wonderful! I feel my posture is improving and that not only delights me, but it also delights my horses! You make my life so much livelier, healthier, and pain free. Thank you for making this time in my life so much richer. You are the best, my dear!”
– Kathy P.
“This work makes you appreciate how small changes bring about big improvements in comfort and movement. You don’t need to build muscle or stretch for improvement to occur.”
– Dr. Shirley Strum, noted anthropologist and Mary’s client
My first experience with Mary Debono’s work was after I had severely injured my back a few years ago. I had tried standard treatments — a visit to the doctor, drugs, chiropractic and physical therapy. I was in such pain I could not stand up and had to navigate life in the “C” position. Sciatica set it and nothing helped. During a wonderful summer family reunion in the Tetons, while other people hiked, rafted and kayaked, I sat and read Anna Karenina. I am a very active person, and this back thing was really depressing. I had never before been out of commission so thoroughly.
“I was considering acupuncture when a fellow equestrian recommended Mary. She was so enthusiastic about how Mary had changed her life that I made an appointment.
“I was surprised by Mary’s method. Contrary to the pain inflicted by physical therapy, Mary was extremely gentle. She allowed no movement that would cause the slightest discomfort. However, the gentle pressure she exerted on precise spots caused my spasms to subside. My back started improving immediately, and after several sessions I was feeling much better. As I continued to work with Mary, she taught me how to move more efficiently so that I would not stress my back. To me, Feldenkrais has been nothing short of a miracle. I recommend Mary constantly to friends who complain of back pain and I have even pressed her business card on strangers I overheard complaining of back pain!
“Mary also works on my aging Grand Prix dressage horse and he loves to see her coming. He is able to move much more freely after she works on him.
“Mary’s all-day workshops featuring ATM (Awareness Through Movement) exercises are amazing. As an athlete, I believed I had to live with a certain amount of low-level pain. Mary has taught me that I don’t have to endure any pain, that it is possible to be active, athletic and not have back pain! I could not recommend Mary more highly. She has changed my life!”
– Kate Shuster, USDF Gold Medalist
“I am a 22-year-old girl, hoping to turn riding horses into my career one day. The more I am working towards my goal, the more I realize that my most important asset is my body.
“Mary Debono’s work has helped me tremendously regarding body awareness and body coordination. Due to the new found ways of moving my body, I have been able to ride differently, but also use my body in a more beneficial way on a day-to-day basis. For example, I am now able to move my neck separately from my shoulders and turn in the ribcage while maintaining an upright position when driving in the car.
“I have walked out of a session feeling taller, to the extent that I would see landscaping marks up on the hills that I have never seen before. After another session I’ve had to adjust the mirrors in my car, because I would look right over them. Another time I could feel both of my shoulder blades touch the back of my car seat consistently for the entire drive home, which is something I’ve never been able to feel before.
“Overall, the Feldenkrais work with Mary Debono has enriched my movement on and off the horse. I therefore experience hardly any back and shoulder pain anymore. I can make my own body work less, by using the right body parts at the right time, instead of all of them all the time.”
– Lientje Schueler, S. Peters Training Stable
“Good Morning Mary,
I had an amazing day yesterday following our session. All day I experienced the sensation of cool water flowing across my upper back and shoulders. Much to my surprise, I found swallowing and my neck movement much more free, though prior to our session, I was unaware of feeling constricted. There is no pain in my foot on rising today.
I am notorious for my capacity to disassociate to manage mental and physical discomfort, a skill learned early and utilized often. While I am aware of this tendency, I am not always aware that I have disengaged from my experience. In fact, most often, I am not aware, so your work yesterday was spot on, so gentle, totally compelling and profound.
Thank you so much for opening the door to this process for me. I have been too long running down the road with no practice in place to manage myself, if you understand my meaning.
– N.F., Encinitas, CA
“Thank you for coaxing my body through this summer! I have gotten so much more mobility in my upper spine! And I love how that helps my shoulder blades fall down to a better place. I really cherish every improvement, even if it seems small…but it is HUGE to me! Thank you for sticking with me!”
– E.B., San Diego, CA