Many years ago when I was first venturing out onto the Internet via a second-hand computer and noisy dial-up modem, I blundered into an email listserve group dedicated to equine massage and other complementary healing therapies.
I was just starting to learn about alternatives to conventional veterinary medicine, thanks to a horse who faced me with a series of health issues that defied conventional treatment. And I found in this group a handful of experienced, skilled healers who were willing to share their knowledge with each other and inform all the newbies, as well.
One of these people was Mary Debono, a California Feldenkrais practitioner who had adapted the neuromuscular re-education exercises from that technique to work with horses and other animals. She called her work the SENSE Method, now known as Debono Moves.
At the time I was working with an old Arabian gelding who, after standing in a pasture for the better part of a decade, had been offered to me as a school horse for his owner’s niece and her horse-crazy friends. He was willing, even happy, to be working. But how in the world to 1) fit a saddle on his deeply swayed back and 2) ensure the ground and mounted work we did improved his carriage and comfort?
I posed this question to the group and got several helpful replies from skilled practitioners of TTOUCH, massage, aromatherapy and homeopathy. But the technique suggested by Mary was by far the one that both best resonated with me and immediately had a positive effect on the horse.
Information packrat that I am, I still have her incredibly detailed and clear instructions in a WordPerfect file saved on my current hard drive in a folder titled with the horse’s name, Rambler. And having just re-read it for the first time in 15-plus years, I see that in addition to giving me step-by-step directions how to work with the horse, she also took the trouble to instruct me in proper posture and movement for my own ease and comfort. Nice.
Several years later I had the chance to work with Mary in a weekend clinic, and the powerful subtlety of her methods stuck with me, as did the techniques themselves, which I have used and adapted to bring comfort to countless horses over the years.
I have contacted Mary a handful of times over the intervening years – once to find a CA bodyworker for a racehorse belonging to a business contact –and she has been consistently kind, helpful and generous.
That generosity extends to this very day, when she is launching a new project – an E-book detailing her special approach to working on and with dogs. Grow Young with Your Dog is available for free download for three days, November 12-14. (It’s formatted for Kindle, but Amazon offers a free app that lets you read on a PC or phone, as well.)
In the book, Mary tells the stories of several dogs she has helped over the years. Then she instructs readers, with pictures and detailed directions, how to use her gentle, effective hands-on techniques with their own dogs.
She also includes awareness exercises for humans complete with links to audio instructions talking you through them. Having clear and simple instruction from an experienced Feldenkrais practitioner for your own body is reason enough to take advantage of this free download even if you don’t have dogs.
But if you do have a dog – especially one with physical limitations from injury or age – do him and you a favor and download Mary’s book.