By Deborah Crane, CESMT and Reiki Master Practitioner
Many of you reading this article have heard of the word “chakra’ but may not know what they are and why they are important. At the core of both my people and animal practices is the Chakra System. In this article I’d like to share with you a very general and simplified overview of what they are and why they are so fundamentally important to be in balance within you and your horse. In future articles I will get more in depth about each chakra and what you can do to help it maintain “balance”.
All living creatures have chakras. The word chakra is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning spinning wheel. There are seven” main” chakras located along the front and back of the spinal column in the body. These are not something that you can physically touch like an organ in your body. These energetic vortexes regulate the functions of specific organs. Humans also have “minor” chakras located on the palms and soles of our feet. There are also several additional chakras outside our body above our head and below our feet.
Animals differ from humans in that they have: 8 major chakras, 21 minor chakras and 6 bud chakras. In animals, the “Bud” chakras are found on the bottom of each foot, hoof, paw pad etc. and there is one at the base of each ear at the opening. These act as sensory receptors and are very sensitive to changes in subtle energy vibrations. This is why animals are so adept at sensing major changes in the weather such as a thunderstorm, hurricane or earthquake long before it happens or detected by humans.
Their 21 “minor” chakras, also sensory centers, are found throughout the body as well as on the nose, tail and ears. While smaller in size than the “major” chakras, they assist in keeping the “major” chakras in balance. Because animals rely so heavily on instinct and their” sixth sense” for survival their chakras tend to be brighter and larger than those in humans.
Along with the seven “major” chakras that they share with humans, (the root or base chakra, the sacral center, the solar plexus, the heart, the throat, the third eye and the crown) they also have one that is totally unique to animals called the “Brachial” or “Key chakra”. This was discovered by the renowned animal healer, Margrit Coates. This is the equivalent of our 8th Chakra or “soul Star”. It is the main energy center in all animals that enables them to interact with humans, located on both the left and right sides of the body in the shoulder area. Because of this, I begin all hands-on-healing work with this chakra.
One can think of each chakra as a mini hard drive for the organ it represents and that stores each organ’s “operation manual”…all the vital information necessary to regulate the major organs and associated ductless glands within the body’s main computer system.
When the chakras are all functioning properly the body is able to properly metabolize and function in a state of optimum well being. However, if any one of the chakras is out of balance or malfunctioning, they affect all of the others putting the body in a state of “dis-ease” and making all of the others compensate for this imbalance.
Because chakras have a front and back side to them and play such a vital role in the proper functioning of all our organs and glands, I balance them on both the Conception Vessel Meridian and the Governing Vessel Meridian when working with either horse or human clients. The conception vessel influences the Yin Organs (lung, kidney, liver, heart, pericardium and spleen) which tend to be dense and are responsible for storing and transforming body substances. The Governing Vessel influences the Yang organs (large intestine, bladder, gall bladder, small intestine, triple warmer and the stomach) which tend to be hollow and transport nutrients and body waste. When they are balanced on both of these meridians, there is a harmonious flow of “chi” energy throughout the horses’ body.
An easy way to visualize this is to imagine a piece of chain link with seven equal lengths of chain all together, suspended from a hook. Now, imagine water flowing down the links from the top. As long as all of the links are uniform and symmetrical, they are all receiving the same amount of water which I am going to refer to as “energy” for the sake of this analogy. Once I twist a link or two, the dynamics of the flow of “energy” is disrupted, dramatically changing the flow of energy to the remaining links. Now, only some are getting the full benefit of the flow of water/ energy and others are getting very little.
Let’s talk about briefly about energy. What is energy? Energy is “vibration information”; everything is energy and energy is everything. All things in the cosmos are energetic in nature, vibrating at different frequencies. Depending upon the frequency of the vibration, the energetic will appear to be solid, liquid or gaseous. In terms of scientific validity the chakras, I refer people to look at the research conducted by Dr. Valerie Hunt at UCLA and additional studies done by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama of Japan. Their pioneering research has given us “recordings” of the chakras which point to different vibratory bands that exist in different parts of the human body. They found that by stimulating these centers, they could produce the same effects on the mind, body and emotions that were documented in ancient texts by practitioners thousands of years ago.
Perhaps one of the most important scientific discoveries that came out of Dr. Hunt’s work was proof that we’re not a “closed system” meaning that we don’t end at our skin. Our energy, our being, our personality extends beyond our skin into the electromagnetic fields that surround the body. That is why you many “feel” something (like and energetic push) when someone is standing too close. When you are standing in a crowd or close to another person, your electromagnetic field is meshing with the person standing “too close”, causing the energetic exchange of that person’s thoughts, ideas and feelings. The same holds true when you are with your horse…either grooming, leading or riding…you transfer everything that is going on physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually into your horse. This transfer can be through your brushes while grooming, a lead line while walking, or the reins and your seat while riding. I discuss at the end of this article what you can do to temper this exchange. Each chakra plays an important role in the body. In the following paragraphs I am going to give a very brief description of each.
The first chakra is the base chakra, which is sometimes referred to as the Root chakra. It is located in the perineum at the base of the spine at the dock of the tail. This chakra moves the energy up from the magnetic field at the earth’s core through the feet and legs, energizing blood and tissues in the body. On a physical level this chakra stimulates the aggressive drive linked to survival and controls the adrenal cortex (on the upper end of each kidney), which is the storehouse for inherited ancestral energy. It holds both our genetic inheritance for vitality and our predispositions to disease. This chakra also holds qualities of courage, assertiveness, competitive behavior, stamina and resilience.
This chakra is the “survival” center controlling the horses’ response to flight-freight situations. It governs the functions of the kidneys and adrenal glands. Physical problems of the root chakra are conditions that affect the feet, knees, kidney issues, osteoporosis, bone problems and autoimmune deficiency conditions.
The second chakra or sacral chakra is located in the pelvis near the sacrum. This energy center affects emotions and our sense of sexuality. In Chinese Medicine this chakra is governed by the water element. When this chakra is out of balance, it can cause fluid retention in the body. It effects our emotions, creativity and sense of sensuality. The glands that it governs are the ovaries and the testes. The associated body parts are the sex organs and the bladder. Physical problems related to this chakra are sterility, sexual dysfunction, fibroids and sciatica.
The third chakra is the Solar Plexus Chakra. This sits over the stomach and is directly related to the breakdown of nutrients for digestion. This is the horses’ power and fear center. Anger, stress and fear are stored here; the flight/fright response is reflected in their sense of self esteem. This center governs the stomach and the pancreas gland behind the stomach. I believe that this is the most important center to be open because if left closed, it can cause colic, ulcers and possibly inflammation of the pancreas.
The fourth chakra is the Heart chakra. This is the center of love. It governs the Thymus gland and is responsible for building a strong immune system to ward off disease and pain. The physical ailments associated with this chakra are circulatory issues, auto-immune diseases, skin conditions and all lung related issues.
There are two schools of thought as to which of these two chakras is more important to the wellbeing and survival of the horse. In my opinion and from personal experience, I have found
that of all the chakras in the body, the stomach chakra is effected more easily by day to day stresses and can trigger catastrophic aliments and the shutting down of other chakras if left out of balance. These stressors can be anything from having a rigorous training program with little down time to dramatic fluctuations in the weather. Especially in your more sensitive breeds such as your Arabs, Thoroughbreds, and Saddlebreds, and Mustangs if left out of balance for long periods of time, this can trigger the onset of a colic situation or the development of symptoms that are similar to a horse with stomach ulcers. However, the important role of the heart chakra is not to be dismissed.
The fifth chakra is the Throat chakra situated over the thyroid gland. It is the center of communication for your horse. It is responsible for controlling metabolism, the throat, mouth, teeth, jaw and ears. It also affects physical and mental development. When in balance, this is the center that allows the horse to properly express its’ emotions and feelings without being aggressive or uncontrollable. When this center is out of balance throat related issues, tooth decay, gum problems, T.M.J and cervical problems of the neck may occur. You may also find that neurotic vices such as cribbing, weaving, or aggressive behavior such as biting will develop as a result of this center being out of balance.
The sixth chakra is the Brow chakra referred to by most as the “Third Eye”. It is situated about an inch above the center point between the eyes on the forehead. It controls the function of the Pituitary gland. Body parts and issues related to this chakra are the eyes, sinuses, the poll, and neurological related conditions. On an emotional level, this is the horse’s sense of intuition, his or her intelligence and ability to process and execute difficult maneuvers. On a negative note, it is also responsible for a horse being very stubborn, rigid and unable to adapt to change.
The seventh chakra is the Crown Chakra. Located at the top of the skull it controls the pineal gland in the center of the brain. It influences sleep patterns and how a horse accepts its role and/or job in life. This chakra affects the upper skull, cerebral cortex and the skin. A dysfunctional crown chakra can contribute to nervous behavior, seizures, and learning issues.
So now you’re probably asking what can throw a chakra out-of-balance. There are countless ways and things that can throw a chakra out of balance. Everything from fluctuations in weather, to the loss of a pasture mate dying or being sold, or not being given the opportunity to say goodbye and have closure to pasture buddies when moving to a new location. These can all contribute to an “out-of- balance” chakra.
So, now what can you do to help your horse? Be present and in the moment! Horses are incredibly intuitive and mirror what’s going on with their “person” physically & emotionally. Leave all your stress outside the barn before you go in to be with your horse. I often tell my clients to peel off their “aura” (energetic skin) as if they were taking off a diver’s wet-suit and roll it into a ball and leave it outside of the barn before they go in to be with their horse. And, remember to smile when you are with your horse. We change the frequency of our vibration just by smiling. One of the most important lessons I learned when I trained many years ago with Linda Tellington-Jones was: “look at your horse as if you’re seeing it for the first time and are considering buying it”. So much gets overlooked because we are not being “present & in the moment with our horse”…ie: those white hairs along the withers that weren’t there two weeks ago. Unlike humans, horses are always “present and in the moment”. Talk to your horse either out loud or silently, tell it what you’d like to do that day with it. They don’t necessarily understand the words we’re using but they do understand the vibration and frequency of those word. Many of my clients complain that their horse or horses are terribly girthy when being saddled. Girthyness can be caused by many things; ulcers so the horse has stomach pain when being cinched, tight pectoral muscles, a sternum that is out of alignment, front hoof pain, poor saddle fit and anticipation of doing something that causes it pain or discomfort. If your horse is biting at the cross-ties when you approach with its saddle….stop and listen to what your horse is trying to tell you! Most likely he/she is trying to tell you that piece of equipment hurts. Turn your saddle over, balancing the pommel it on your feet as you look down the gullet. Are the left and right panels symmetrical? Is one higher than the other and/or more flocked than the other? Run the palms of your hands down the panels….are they nice and smooth as you go down towards the cantle? Are there lumps? If so, you need to have a saddle fitter or saddle maker re-flock your saddle. Horses’ musculature changes as they age and as their work programs increase or decrease. Just like ours do. Your horse is doing its best to try to communicate with you. Remember, your horse speaks “horse” and we speak “human”. It’s not always easy understanding what they are trying to tell us but I have found that if we just stop and quiet our mind for a few minutes it all becomes clear. So, be patient and kind with your requests. A horse can’t be expected to do algebra when it’s still learning 1 +1= 2. Look at what you’re asking of your horse through your horses’ eyes. And, never forget that it is a privilege that the horse, a prey animal, allows us, a predator, to ride it!
Equine Sports Therapies & Intuitive Integrated Bodywork for Riders – With over 25 years’ experience with horses and training in equine specific wellness modalities, Deb’s whole body approach & results-oriented method of working with the horse and rider improves range of motion, increases performance, reduces inflammation, relieves pain & relaxes muscle spasms. Deb is a certified Equine Massage Therapist, Reiki Master and Certified Gua Sha Face & Neck Practitioner. Contact Deb @ 860-774-8027 or 860-933-3017. Servicing CT, MA, RI & Eastern NY.
Copyright 2017 Deborah Crane, Equine Sports Therapies, equinesportstherapies.com