On this cute liberty video, I talk about HOW movement for horses can be so very healing, even when they are dog lame (funny expression that, I wonder where it came from?) and what prompted me to do something so unusual as you’ll see in this video.
OK, back to this feet receptor thing I was talking about on the video.
There is no doubt in my mind that the healing that took place in Bobby’s feet and in his body was BECAUSE he was getting lots of movement and BECAUSE it was barefoot movement with a barefoot trim that allowed the feet to contact the ground properly. The bare feet allowed the feet receptors, these sensory nerves, to feed back information to his body. He was moving for long enough to bring those feet receptors back to life.
His lameness was from feet falling apart with massive seedy toe and bad feet abcesses causing quite a bit of structural damage to the feet. He also had stiff joints and the muscular problems that go with that.
What we were doing in the video, we did out in the bush at liberty for 7 kms at a time, 3 or 4 times a week for a few weeks. It was so much fun that we did it every now and again fairly regularly after that until we moved away.
The “lots of movement” that he got during this time fixed all those physical problems – his feet were strong again and as you can see in the video, even with a little bit of lameness and a bit more toughening up of the feet needed – he was moving spectacularly again.
Now here’s the parallel with us humans.
My friend Ian Wilson (staffer Narel’s husband) put me on to feet exercises and barefoot walking when I was just about crippled last December. I was hobbling along for quite a while when I first got out of bed and had a lot feet and knee and back pain that wasn’t staying resolved with my healing sessions – it just kept coming back, driving me nuts, because as a “healer” myself, I KNEW that this joint and muscular pain was fixable.
Ian is a barefoot trimmer for horses and thought he should look into it for humans too. He got phenomenal benefits in terms of healing his own very sore and aching body and is now running 1/2 marathons in barefoot shoes.
The arch supports and high heels of modern sports shoes completely change our natural movement. I started to wear very good arch supported runners because of knee and back pain years ago and they fixed it. The trouble is, they may have fixed the problem in the short term, but over time they actually CAUSED a worse version of the problem they are designed to fix.
Wearing feet arch supports and the shoes that build arch support into them, is like wearing a wrist brace all the time – it supports at the beginning but eventually makes your wrist weaker, because it’s not getting the movement it needs to make it stronger. The arch supports supported my feet and made me feel better temporarily, but then the muscles that count got little to no exercise so they gradually withered away and got weaker and weaker until all the muscles in my feet were collapsing and painful.
Well I followed Ian’s exercise and barefoot suggestions and we ran together at the Southern Highlands Marathon a few weeks ago – him in the 25km, me in the smaller 7km. Very cool… I was proud of very myself. We both of us wore what we call barefoot shoes – just to protect our feet on rough stony ground. They are very flexible and soft, they contour the shape of the foot, they allow the toes to spread out and contact the ground – they are protective rather than supportive.
But still… there has been something else to know or do. I have been searching for the missing something about feet, searching for something else that will take away the niggling injuries, not bad injuries, just uncomfortable, that were plaguing me while I was training. Discussions with Ian when I was up at Nowra with the family and this old video of Bobby, gave me a theory that I wanted to check out.
And so I set off to see if TRULY barefoot – no shoes at all – would solve the remaining problems.
And here’s where Bobby’s health and well being from activating HIS feet receptors in that video above, applies to me.
I am only a couple of weeks into checking out this theory. I started walking out on the prickly road outside our house in absolutely bare feet. At first I could only go about 100 metres and then had to put my shoes on to walk back to the house. Now I am up to about a kilometre at a time.
I feel for the ground with my feet as I am walking – I gently feel for all the sensations in my feet and my body as I am walking. I look up and around me and enjoy the view and use the effortlessly engaged and very powerful core that we teach in Foundation for Riding Excellence that allows such effortless movement. I allow my body to “roll” with any stones that I tread on and consciously allow my spine and pelvis to move and adjust to every stone that my feet feel.
The results are freaking amazing! I am getting more and more flexibility in my body in movement over rough ground and feeling better and better.
I took Lily Bär out for a long walk yesterday and had no signs whatsoever of the slightly niggling discomforts that had been there only a week earlier.
It’s still a theory as far as humans go, but hey… it’s looking like it might be a good one!
Not without proper preparation please!
You know those dangerous things you see people doing on TV and your heart is in your mouth and you pray your kid doesn’t go and do the same dangerous thing and get hurt?
Please remember that, if you may want to try the horse and the car at liberty thing – there were a bunch of keys to success that meant that what I did was very unlikely to end in tears:
1. Bobby was a SPECTACULAR liberty horse and even though we don’t do much now, he still is. Once in a clinic, he was galloping with a whole bunch of crazy acting loose horses in a five acre paddock and on hearing me yell “Bobbbbyyyy!” he peeled off from that herd of crazily galloping horses and came to me at a flat gallop himself .
Another time a three year old visitor opened the horse gate and let all of my horses out onto a 100 km an hour road that had two blind corners not too far away. By the time I got to the front gate, the last of the herd was disappearing around one of those blind corners at a flat gallop.
I have a VERY loud farm voice from years of projecting my voice down the valley to call the cows and put every ounce of that power into my “Bobbbyyyyyy!!!!”. And he wheeled around at a flat gallop and brought the whole herd safely back to me.
So I KNEW that no matter what happened out in the bush, no matter what distractions or what frights, that he would always come back to me. I would never have done it otherwise.
2. Bobby was well trained and incredibly safe in traffic generally and we trained at leading from the car window in the paddocks at home.
3. He could drag a lead rope happily so that I could drop it if I needed to, safely.
4. We had even trained at liberty from the car window at home. Again, without all of that training I would never have even thought of doing this – a car is a big machine that has the capacity to break horses bones, so he had to be both comfortable with the car AND yet paying attention to me at the same time.
Important note about lameness
There are two types of lameness:
1. The sort where a horse is in pain all the time,
2. and the sort where they limp to AVOID the pain.
Bobby’s lameness was the last type. You can tell by their eyes if you know your horse well. You can see the bigger pain in their eyes. So use your common sense and if in doubt consult your veterinarian.