Horse Nation reader Jennifer Madden discusses what Equine Reiki is and how it can benefit your horse.
For centuries horses have been used for work, carrying men into battle, eventing, pleasure riding and therapy. Horses are living longer because of supplements and alternative feeds geared toward their individual nutritional needs and increased quality of life. We love our four-legged friends more than people most days and want only the best for them physically, mentally and emotionally.
I come to you as a long-time horse lover turned horse owner and a certified Reiki Master and Equine/Animal Master. My equine companion is considered a senior as he is in his 20s, so I pay special attention to his care so he still gets to enjoy everything horses half his age do. One of the treatments he receives is Reiki. I have seen first-hand the benefits Reiki has to offer horses.
Reiki is a non-invasive universal energy healing that anyone can learn at any time. It is a healing technique based on the principle that the Reiki Master can channel energy into the patient by means of touch to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being.
The wonderful thing about Reiki is energy cannot be destroyed or uncreated, so there is always enough to go around. It helps to alleviate any blockages or imbalances in our energy bodies. Our bodies, animals included, have a flow of energy, which can be disrupted by any sort of negative feelings or situations.
Many people have asked me, “What is energy and how does it work?” A lot of times people struggle to understand something they cannot see with their own eyes. A good way to think about energy is like this: think of anytime you have run your feet across a carpeted area and then get shocked when you touch metal. Or how lightning travels down to the ground through a tree, destroying it. How do these things happen? It’s simply energy being conducted and traveling through channels. In the same sense, channels in your body carry energy. This is what makes Reiki possible. Energy is in everything and everyone. The practitioner is tuned to the Reiki energy frequency, which enables them to utilize it at any time.
This leads me to why we are here – to talk about energy work on our equine friends. Reiki works the same way in horses as it does people. The difference is that horses are much more sensitive to energy than most people. For example, if you have ever approached a horse with the intent to take them somewhere they don’t necessarily want to go, they often hesitate or refuse to be caught altogether. This is because they pick up on your energy and intention.
Reiki is great for treating any sort of emotional or physical difficulty a horse may be having at any time. It could be as simple as sore muscles after training or some arthritis. I have seen progress in laminitis and joint pain in horses I have worked on. Reiki can also address any sort of anxiety or stress that manifests itself in a behavioral way. A few examples are cribbing, issues loading onto a trailer, or stall weaving, to name a few. I have seen dramatic changes in horses with serious fear responses to people, those who have the fight or flight reactions. It’s not safe to have a horse who bites or kicks everyone it comes into contact with. Reiki can help calm and relax a horse so that it is more approachable. Reiki is also beneficial for digestive issues, such as preventing colic.
During a session it is common to see yawning, licking and chewing, dropping of the head, and an overall calming effect on the horse. After a session I have had clients tell me their horse has more energy, appears happier, and their relationship benefits from it.
So what happens during a session? Typically a session lasts about 20 minutes, but that can change depending on the horse. When approaching a stalled horse, I take special care to wait for their permission to enter. The horse’s stall is much like your personal bedroom. I wouldn’t just walk in without being invited first. I wait for the horse to greet me and let them check me out prior to starting. I may give them a pet or two and rub them down first.
As soon as I feel they are comfortable with me in their space I begin. The owner is more than welcome to stand outside the stall door quietly. I begin by dropping into a meditative state in order to allow the horse to relax. Since horses are very sensitive to energy, it helps if I am in a calm, relaxed state of mind myself. I call in the Reiki energy since I am already tuned to the frequency. It is like turning your cell phone on and making a call.
I place my hands around the shoulder area, just a few inches away from the horse until they lean into me, at which point I place both hands on their shoulder area. I will work around the body at a pace that feels right for both me and the horse. Usually after a minute or two the horse relaxes into the session and sometimes even falls asleep. I continue to work until the horse starts to come out of its meditative state or steps away from me, letting me know it is done with the session.
Reiki is based on trust, and if the horse is telling me with its body language it is done, then I respect that so we are able to have future sessions. It is similar to when you get a massage and the pressure is too deep and you alert the practitioner. The session should be comfortable and enjoyable for the horse.
After the session has concluded, I will fill the owner in on anything I may have picked up on. Horses may move in a way that imitates getting a fly off of them, which tells me they are releasing stress from part of their body. Each horse is different, as are its needs. Some horses may only need one session every 6 months, others may need more. Some of the rescue horses I have had the pleasure of working on have needed more frequent sessions to allow them to trust humans again and have a positive interactions.
Like all treatments, the goal of equine Reiki is for us to enjoy our equine friends in whatever we chose to do with them. A happy horse makes for a happy horse owner, and that makes for the amazing experience we call horse ownership.
Jennifer Madden is a Reiki Master and Equine/Animal Master. She is a life-long horse lover and is thrilled to now be a horse owner. She works with Rory Ridge Rescue to help their horses relax and become comfortable with human interaction.