The Balancing Touch - Acupressure, Reiki, Massage, and Animal Communication
Article and photos by Susan Rifkin Ajamian
Ron and Linda Briel are a husband-and-wife team from Pennsylvania who combine acupressure, Reiki (pronounced "ray-key"), and massage therapies along with animal communication skills to help restore the balance of energy in horses' bodies. The Briels have helped horses in a variety of sports including Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses, dressage horses, combined training horses, and many pleasure horses. These range in age from premature foals in a hospital's neo-natal unit to horses in their 20's and 30's. Many of Ron and Linda's clients are referred to them by veterinarians.
The photographs of Ron and Linda show them working on Susan Neilson-Smith's Westphalian stallion, North Star. Now 24 years old, "Nori" has been one of their patients for several years. When they first began helping him he had a lot of toxins in his system, his energy flow was "shut off", and his hind end was so weak and sore he could barely back up. He also received acupuncture, chiropractic care, and pulsed magnetic blanket treatments. Nori eventually went back to competing, including qualifying for and placing in a class at Dressage at Devon.
A previous issue of Natural Horse discussed how one may use acupressure to help avoid or relieve colic. Here are some stories about horses that the Briels have successfully helped by combining several therapeutic techniques you can learn. These techniques have helped a variety of problems including colic, Lyme disease, chronic back pain, sinus infections and allergies, "PMS", injured tendons and ligaments, and other injuries.
THE INTRODUCTION TO ACUPRESSURE
The Briels call their therapy "The Balancing Touch" and use acupressure, Reiki, and massage on horses (and humans). They also use animal communication. In fact, Ron began learning acupressure nearly 20 years ago when Linda, a former nurse, broke her fifth lumbar vertebrae giving birth to their daughter. The first prognosis was that Linda might be able to walk again but certainly could never ride. Fortunately, Linda's chiropractor could relieve her pain with acupressure. However, on the long car ride home the pain would return. So the chiropractor taught Ron how to treat Linda himself. (She recovered fully, and long ago returned to riding.)
About ten years later, they bought their daughter a Plantation (naturally shod) Tennessee Walking Horse, then discovered the mare had back problems from an earlier trailer accident. This time Ron contacted Dr. Benson Martin, a veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. Dr. Martin sent Ron information about the meridians and points to treat for horses. Later that year their daughter's horse earned Tri-State versatility champion.
Ron has gone on to conduct experiments to map the acupuncture points in horses. He works with animal communicator Anita Curtis to identify the effect of different points on the horses. Without looking at the horse, Anita identifies what the horse feels. They found that although some points make the horses feel better, others can induce nausea. Preliminary findings indicate there are differences between the male and female horses' point locations, and that although miniature horses have meridian patterns like large horses, ponies are different.
The Briels learned about Reiki from another veterinarian, Dr. Pat Tersigni, when it was used to restore to health one of their horses who was unable to walk after a severe head injury.
Reiki is an oriental word meaning "universal life energy". It is a gentle, noninvasive technique from ancient Tibet for restoring and balancing the life-force energy, also known as "chi". Reiki is known to be over 2500 years old but the technique was temporarily "lost". It was rediscovered in Japan in the mid-1800's by Dr. Mikao Usui, who trained Hawayo Takata. Takata then introduced it to the United States and Europe.
Reiki can be used in combination with other traditional and complementary medical techniques. Someone trained in First Degree Reiki can apply it directly to the animal or person. A person trained in Second Degree can send it over time and space. The Briels have both been trained in Reiki and have attained Third Degree, or Advanced Reiki. Linda is also a Reiki Master who is certified to teach Reiki to others. Her Reiki students often relate stories of being able to successfully help friends and animals after just the one-day First Degree Reiki course.
Reiki helps restore balance to the body, mind, and spirit. It energizes those feeling tired and relaxes those feeling tense and upset. Amazingly, it does not deplete the healer, who acts as a channel for the universal energy. Many people actually feel better after giving Reiki to another. And it is impossible to pick up any affliction or illness from giving Reiki, because the energy flows only one way, into the healer's crown chakra, and out the hands.
EQUINE SPORTS MASSAGE
A few years ago Ron learned equine sports massage, a technique for identifying and releasing malfunctions in the horses' musculature. Then he completed the Equissage certification course. Ron uses acupressure and massage on the horses while both he and Linda use Reiki.
Both Briels have learned animal communication from Anita Curtis. They use it to explain to the horse what they are doing, to ask the horse's permission to help it, and to also ask what problems it has. One day when they were working on the author's horse while he was on stall rest recuperating from a tendon injury, Linda commented that she thought he wanted to listen to classical music instead of what was playing on the barn radio. I explained that interestingly he'd made the same request through Anita Curtis.
Anita Curtis lives in Pennsylvania and travels around the United States teaching her workshops, "How to Hear the Animals". Because the introductory level and advanced level are each one-day workshops, people often take both courses the same weekend. She also developed and is marketing a workbook kit, "How to Hear the Animals" with exercises and meditations to practice.
THE CROOKED FOAL
One of Ron and Linda's youngest patients was a 24-hour old Appaloosa colt born with his back and legs twisted and crooked. He appeared to be in a lot of pain, and could not stand long enough to nurse and get the colostrum he needed. The attending veterinarian suggested letting Nature take its course, whatever way that might be. The person in charge of the foaling asked the Briels to look at the colt.
He was lying flat on his right side with both rear legs curving upward. The mare was protective but finally allowed the Briels to crawl into the stall. The foal pulled away when they touched his back but did not mind his legs being touched. Ron lifted him up but the foal could nurse only briefly before he was exhausted. They could see that from his withers back, he was bent downward, like a hyena, and both hind legs curved to the left.
Ron could feel that the foal's back muscles were in a severe spasm. Ron applied acupressure to the spinal points to loosen the muscles and hopefully to allow the twisted spine to correct itself. Linda channeled Reiki energy to the foal's head to calm him. Although Ron would have liked to do more, he stopped when the foal needed a respite from the acupressure. When the Briels finished, the foal was asleep.
The next day, the barn owner told them that when she checked the foal 8 hours after the treatment his twisted back and hips were perfectly straight. He was much stronger, and was galloping around his stall. His hind legs, although not yet straight, were much better. By the time he and his dam left a few days later, the foal's back and legs were straight and strong.
The therapies Ron and Linda utilize are compatible with veterinary care and the Briels often work at equine therapy facilities or hospitals. One patient, Sunny, a 20-year-old Thoroughbred mare, was in an equine clinic under the veterinarian's care. She had just been diagnosed with peritonitis, a massive infection of her abdominal cavity, which is usually fatal. Sunny had several intravenous drips and was running a high fever when the Briels arrived that evening at the owner's request. Linda did Reiki on Sunny's poll and Ron began acupressure treatments of points on Sunny's hip and abdomen. She had very sore muscles. The Briels worked on Sunny for less than an hour but during that time her temperature and stress level both dropped, though neither was back to normal.
Sunny was sent home after three days and the Briels went to treat her on her first day home. She was still very sore and was not eating her food. After Ron gave her acupressure on her Bladder, Gall Bladder and Conception meridians, Sunny began to breathe more easily. After the treatment, she ate all her food. The Briels continued to treat Sunny once a week for three weeks, then once every two weeks for a month. She then went onto a maintenance program of every 6 to 8 weeks. Sunny is now 25, and continues to go on light trail rides with her person.
THE MANGLED STALLION
The Briels had an unusual emergency call a few years ago. A farm's breeding stallion had escaped from his stall, then tried to climb over a mare's half-door. He got hung up on it, with his front end in her stall and his hind end hanging outside the stall but not reaching the ground. He was stuck there all night, during which time she bit and kicked him. When he was found in the morning he was in shock with massive edema on his chest and right shoulder and contusions on his neck, chest and shoulder. The lack of circulation to his hind end caused his scrotum to swell to the size of a soccer ball. He was exhausted and could barely stand, but responded to the veterinarian's emergency treatments. The Briels were asked to help accelerate his healing.
Linda started with Reiki on the stallion's head. He sighed and dropped his head in response to her Reiki. He was drawing so much energy that Linda said it felt as if she had touched a mild electric fence. To help promote blood flow to and lymph fluid drainage from the injured chest areas, Ron applied finger pressure to acupuncture meridians and points relative to, but distant from, the chest area. When Ron finished the acupressure treatment of the chest area, Linda did Reiki on it to help with the pain. Ron then went to work to release the stallion's back and hindquarter spasms. The stallion also accepted acupressure for points related to, but remote from, his swollen scrotum. Then Ron and Linda applied their energy balancing as they each stood at opposite ends of the horse. The stallion was visibly happier by the end of the treatment session and nuzzled them as if to say, "thank you".
Despite receiving only one treatment instead of several as is usually recommended, the stallion recovered rapidly to the amazement of the veterinarians. After 30 days of rest he was back fulfilling his role as the farm's main breeding stallion.
About the author: Susan Rifkin Ajamian is a freelance writer who specializes in complementary therapies, which she also uses to help her husband, her 21-year old horse, and their 20-year old cat. She and her horse have both benefited from The Balancing Touch treatments. She learned Second Degree Reiki from Linda Briel and she has attended several of Anita Curtis's animal communication workshops.
For more information:
Acupressure and Reiki
Ron and Linda Briel travel to treat horses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. If you live in these areas they can help with your horse. If not, you may want to learn how to do some of these therapies yourself. Ron teaches workshops and has a practical workbook, Equine Acupressure: First Aid with Your Fingertips. In addition to explaining the Ten Point Evaluation you can use to make sure your horse feels well enough to be ready to ride, this book also has charts showing the points to use to help stabilize a horse while awaiting a veterinarian if you suspect colic or founder. It also shows which points can help with sinus and allergy problems. The last section identifies points to help horses with sore backs and stiff necks. The book is $15.95 (US) plus $2.00 shipping and handling (PA residents include 6% sales tax), call 610-754-9184 or e-mail BRIELSBAL@cs.com.
Linda teaches Reiki classes. Reiki Level 1 is a one-day workshop for $150; Reiki Level 2 (prerequisite is Level 1 and practice) is $250. Books on Reiki are The Reiki Handbook by Larry Arnold and Sandy Nevius, and Essential Reiki by Diane Stein.
To order books or for animal communication workshop schedules, call Anita Curtis at 610-327-3820 (M-F 10-4) or check the website at www.AnitaCurtis.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Her book Animal Wisdom is $11.95 (US) and the study book and kit for How to Hear the Animals is $18.00 plus $2.00 shipping and handling (PA residents include 6% sales tax).
Equine Sports Massage
Ron recommends The How To Book on Sports Massage for the Equine Athlete by Mary and Dee Schreiber of Equissage Ltd. To order call 1-800-843-0224. Another good book is Beating Muscle Injuries for Horses by Jack Meagher. Another good resource for information about multiple therapies, including acupuncture and massage is Healing Your Horse - Alternative Therapies by Dr. Meredith Snader and others.