Alternative Therapies Help Equine Tendon Injury

A horse owner shares alternative therapies that helped her dressage horse recover from a tendon injury.
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A horse owner shares alternative therapies that helped her dressage horse recover from a tendon injury.

Note: Diane's horse, Jesse, sustained an injury whose best treatment was stem cell therapy. The two-year healing journey that took up and down turns along the way also revealed alternative therapies to try. Here are Diane's thoughts on these alternative techniques. Read Diane and Jesse's story, "Defying the Odds," in the January 2009 issue of Dressage Today magazine. To order back issues, call 301-977-3900.

Diane Barber and her horse, Jesse | Photo by Rich Bornstein

Diane Barber and her horse, Jesse | Photo by Rich Bornstein

Though the odds were against my horse overcoming his tendon injury, my love for Jesse led me to explore alternative healing methods. As my faith grounded me, I passed the reins to God and reached outside of my comfort zone. And when I did, I soon discovered some very special people and unconventional resources to add to the conventional medical path that I was on. Though some of what I did was too far afield for many, I continue to share all that I can about our two-year healing journey. For what if, for the sake of avoiding criticism, I should omit something that was vital to our success that could help another horse?

Holofiber
At the urging of David Dru, a friend who developed a fiber to heal his own soft tissue shoulder injury, I used equine leg wraps that contain David's now patented Holofiber--a material that promotes healing by transmitting energy from light to an injury while better oxygenating the body's cells. Holofiber leg wraps became a part of the daily healing regime and, along with a Holofiber saddle pad, they will continue to be a mainstay for Jesse's well care (holofiber.com and draperequinetherapy.com).

Reiki
Reiki is a Japanese relaxation technique dating back to 1922 that promotes healing with energy. "Rei" means God's wisdom or the Higher Power and "ki" means life force energy. Rita Connor of Elite Resorts and Spas suggested a session for me with Reiki Master Alberto Amura at the onset of Jesse's injury. When I asked if he worked on horses and learned that he didn't (then), I pursued the idea of it anyway.

After speaking with Alberto and becoming intrigued by his knowledge and background (including his degree in industrial chemistry, professorship in science education and horseback search and rescue experience), I asked him to see Jesse during his next visit from Taos, N.M. When we met at the stables, I was hopeful yet unsure and unprepared for what I was about to observe. He started by placing his hands and a healing crystal on Jesse's forehead and, to my amazement, my horse lifted his injured front leg and held it suspended at chest level with his eyes closed. Coincidence? Some would say so. But in my heart I knew it was not. That day marked the beginning of regular Reiki sessions, my interest in the healing qualities of the Earth's minerals and many more fascinating communications between Jesse and our new friend (reiki.org, lighttide.com).

Positive Thoughts
Alberto passionately shared his beliefs in the power of positive thinking, affirmations and visualization while strongly discouraging me from saying "Jesse is injured/lame." He suggested that I instead see him as a beautiful healthy horse whose injury did not define who or what he was, for it only affected his leg for the time being. Much like professional athletes use positive thinking and visualization to win, and the visualization that I was instructed to do to walk again after my past leg injury, I happily embraced this way of thinking. Day after day for two years, I held Jesse's leg in my hands, closed my eyes, breathed deeply, prayed and imagined him moving effortlessly at every gait. Like those winning athletes who believe in the outcome of such mindful techniques, we, too, thankfully won.

Alberto Amura and Jesse | Photo by Rich Bornstein

Alberto Amura and Jesse | Photo by Rich Bornstein

Diane Barber is an interior designer and amateur dressage enthusiast with an affinity for Spain and Spanish horses. She lives in Southern California and travels to Spain to train with Rafael Soto on a regular basis. Her website is equestriandesignery.com.