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Healing chronic conditions with Equine Breathing

May 25, 2005

by Clare Hobsley

Do you have a horse with a chronic ailment such as arthritis, respiratory problems, sarcoids, mud fever or rain scald; or behavioural problems such as wind sucking, anxiety or head shaking? Is the chronic condition causing your horse (and you) distress, reducing your competition performance, costing a lot of money in treatment or reducing the pleasure you get from your horse?

You may be interested in this new technique that enables you to heal your horses from chronic ailments and behaviour problems without veterinary procedures or drugs. I developed this technique in 2002 to help my 26-year-old who had severe hay fever with continuous snorting, runny eyes, difficulty breathing, violent head shaking and hypersensitivity to flies.

The condition was being controlled by homeopathy but this was not curing the root cause of the illness because Cuilrane was starting his hay fever earlier each year. Many horses in his situation and of his age would probably have been put down, especially as he was not keeping condition well in winter, either.

I am very glad I did not take that route, because instead Cuilrane and I developed Equine Breathing -a technique of profound significance for horse owners.

In 2001 I had been ill for 15 years with ME (the last 2 bedridden). I started using the Buteyko breathing technique which has identified the cause of most chronic illness as over breathing, and which retrains people to reduce their breathing back to a normal level. The results were stunning. After four months I no longer had ME and went on to train as a Buteyko practitioner.

One day, watching Cuilrane I made the connection that the physiology applies to horses as well as humans. Cuilrane was clearly over breathing to a high degree. All I had to do was to find a way to persuade him to breathe less and he should recover from his hay fever. It worked, Cuilrane had a similarly dramatic reduction in symptoms.

After 6 days he became comfortable even in the spring pollen and sunshine. He continued to improve and I was able to stop giving the homeopathic remedies. Three years he is free from symptoms.

It was not just the hay fever and headshaking that improved. In the 10 years that I had had him, Cuilrane had never bucked. His back was stiff and his paces stilted. Now at age 29 he frolics around the field and has expanded his bucking routine to include various side kicks.

Other problems such as rain scald, receding gums, a hay allergy, difficulty keeping condition, high worm count and fairly severe separation anxiety all melted away. His paces have become light and springy and when he bounces around it seems clear that he just feels great.

Equine Breathing can help cribbing and windsuckingThe physiology underlying Equine Breathing predicts that these sorts of improvements will occur and I have worked successfully with horses suffering from a wide range of conditions including COPD, wind sucking and cribbing, skin problems, sarcoids, lameness, separation anxiety, attention deficit, phobias. It means that horse owners can heal their horses from even severe 'incurable' symptoms, through their own efforts, freeing them from expensive drug or treatment options - and from misery!

Equine Breathing also increases stamina and fitness. The breathing training gradually increases the levels of oxygen available to the body and this prolongs aerobic respiration on exercise and delays the production of lactic acid. A fact that will be of interest to performance horse riders. Equine Breathing has a deeply relaxing effect as it enables the horse to shut down adrenaline production and go into the anabolic state of cell growth and repair and production of immune system cells. This relaxing effect can be very handy for those whose horses get stressed when competing.

Horses enjoy Equine Breathing and at its most gentle level Equine Breathing can be easily learnt and done by almost anyone, with almost any horse. To do the most gentle form of Equine Breathing, which is called 'One Nostril' or '1N', you don't need any special equipment or training. You just need to plan to have 10 minutes a day of undisturbed time with your horse.

1N can be done before and after riding, or before feeding (but not after) and as many times a day as you both like. Why not give it a try and see how it goes?
Stand facing almost the same direction as your horse
Stand facing almost the same direction as your horse
Position of the hand in 1N
Position of the hand in 1N


Stand facing almost the same direction as your horse, just slightly angled towards them, so that if they move suddenly your feet are unlikely to be trodden on.

Horses often doze in 1N and may wake abruptly and jump forward at an unexpected disturbance.

When your horse lowers their head in relaxation be careful to keep your back upright. Don't lean in over their head as again, they may twitch in a dream and knock your face. Instead bend your knees (good exercise for your thighs!). Once their head is low enough you can crouch down.

In most cases, after a few minutes the horse will start to feel the benefits of increased carbon dioxide and become drowsy and relaxed, appreciate what is happening and settle down to enjoy the session.

Avoiding mistakes

Loading without stress using the Hobsley Breather
Loading without stress using the Hobsley Breather.
Once you start doing 1N its best to keep your hand in place for 5 minutes or at least until your horse registers the pleasant sensation engendered by the Equine Breathing.

If your horse initially fidgets, gently persist; keep your hand in place but don't fight about it. If you remove your hand before your horse feels the effect, they will have no reason to want to do 1N sessions. Once they feel the pleasant sensation of increased carbon dioxide, they will become willing participants.

If your horse continues to fidget, they may be afraid to let go and relax. Try doing the 1N after exercise, especially trust building control of movement exercises as described in the Equine Breathing Starter Guide.

Most horses soon realise that 1N is an enjoyable experience and relax deeply. Equine Breathing has a direct and immediate physiological effect on the horse's body. Although gentle, 1N can have profound effects.

More powerful Equine Breathing methods, for mild to severe symptoms are available, the most efficient and versatile being the Hobsley Breather. This comes with a 90 minute instructional video and is easy to use and enjoyable for the horse.



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