The SAFE horses have made a wonderful new friend: Barbara Breckenfeld of Movement in Balance. Barbara specializes in equine bodywork, massage, and energy healing. For the past few weeks, she has been coming to Safe Harbor and donating her time and gifts to a few special horses. We are so grateful for her healing touch and understanding. Thank you Barbara! To read move about Barbara’s work, check out her website at:

Here are reports from Barbara’s sessions with Nala and Oscar:

I am taking a ‘less is more’ approach with Nala and Oscar, in hopes that more frequent short sessions will build trust and support them to make small changes over time. It’s a layer of the onion thing again!

My intention is to support their bodies to be in balance physically and mentally/emotionally so that the wisdom of their bodies can process and heal as needed over time.

Nala and Barbara

Nala and Barbara

Nala 5/3/2016– I started with Nala in the turnout, and then she asked to go back to her stall. Perhaps she knew it was near feeding time. Note to self: work with Nala when it is not mealtime. I also noticed how interested she was in the kids visiting yesterday. Seems that she likes them.

Similar to last time, she walked away from me to process and came back when ready for more. This time she spent a long time processing. I honored that, kept checking in with her. Her eyes were blinking, nose/lips quivering, and periodically, she’d lick and chew. At some point I went out and stood a couple feet from her shoulder to support her. Then her head lowered below her withers – another good sign of processing, and that her body was releasing its own endorphins. When I invited her spine and pelvis to move more and the circulation increases, the hair over her spine started to shine. 

She continues to feel guarded emotionally, but her body is cooperating with this work if I go slow enough. I’m pleased with her engagement with the work and processing it. When it was feeding time she was totally focused on that and acted worried about getting hers.

Nala_06_10_2016_03Nala 5/20/2016- Nala was busy eating lunch in her stall, and I let her continue to eat while I worked. I was able to do more deep work with her this time, as well as the vibration technique with her front legs. She was quite clear that she did not want me touching her back legs – even her gaskins. I wonder if her issues in front are compensations for something behind or in her back. I did most of a structural integration session with her. She allowed me to work deep in her shoulder on the left. I found a tight muscle along her back right above the shelf of her ribs on the left; it was similarly tight but less so on the right. It felt like the iliocostal muscle which runs alongside the longissimus dorsi muscle. Nala_06_10_2016_02

Nala 6/10/2016– Nala loved the structural integration neck and shoulder work on her left side (it can support healing on the other side of the body). She also loved work on her inner left leg, and cocked her hip for me, which allowed deeper access to the tissue. Nala needs pauses to process during her sessions. These pauses involved my hands on her and me feeling lots of tingling as she received Reiki. She reacted to some strokes across her barrel. I paused between sides to write some notes. On her right side we did lots of Reiki, and she was wigglier, not wanting me to touch her. She kept processing and getting offered Reiki and other options like lifting her back. Finally she was done without my doing much structural integration work with her right side, also didn’t do much vibration with her front legs.

Oscar and Barbara

Oscar and Barbara

Oscar 5/3/2016- Oscar was more interested in connecting with me this time. I worked with him using Tui-na and some light structural integration strokes (shoulder, long back muscle, loin and top of HQ). Encouraging long back muscle to soften and move (his is pretty good) and encourage movement along his spine and pelvis. (disclaimer: not chiro, bodywork) Oscar looks good from lots of perspectives, but I’d like to see more movement in his pelvis and spine. He did some good processing, and stopped eating when I came into his space. Will be curious to see how he is next time.

Oscar 5/20/2016– I worked with Oscar in the turnout area above/behind the arena. He enjoyed the Reiki I offered him more than the percussive strokes. He really relaxed and received it. When I explored deep tissue strokes, he allowed some really good work on his left side – cocked his hip to allow me to work in a relaxed muscle, also around his neck and shoulder. On his right side, he was either done or protecting, but did allow me to work around his loin, top of his hindquarters and down his hamstrings. The muscles in the top of his right hindquarters felt pretty lumpy to me. I’ll explore that a bit more next time.

Oscar stayed very connected with me during most of the session. He followed me around, licked my hands, and had many good releases throughout. I did notice that his mouth got tighter when I began the deeper (structural integration) strokes. Knowing Arabs are sensitive and quick, I was aiming for lighter strokes, shorter duration, etc. He is such a sweet guy!

Oscar finding release!

Oscar finding release!

Oscar 6/10/2016– Oscar’s session was mostly structural integration strokes, lasted about 45 minutes. He had great releases, lots of licking and chewing, sighs, lowering his head, softening his eyes. I started on his left side (the harder side), getting reaction from him just behind his shoulder and on top of his hindquarters. Both times, I paused, lightened up, and let the spots clear so I could complete the strokes. On the right side, he curved his neck around which gave me lots of access into the depths of his neck crease. He reacted to something in the right pectorals in front and inside the leg. Again, I paused and held my hand over the area without pressure or movement. This time it was an emotional clearing. As I cried, and said to him over and over, “I’m so sorry,” over and over. Then, “You are precious.” He just loved the work on the inside of his hind legs on both sides. I completed all the strokes on both sides in that protocol, and when he was done, he was definitely done, telling me again with his ears and mouth. I’m always thrilled when the mental/emotional things stored in the tissue can emerge and heal. Good boy, Oscar!!

I’m really pleased to be working with these two and am grateful for the opportunity. I enjoy coming to SAFE, and feel that Oscar and Nala are progressing in their acceptance of the work I’m offering them. It is important to me, and I think to any horse, especially rescued horses with unknown hurts and traumas, that each horse has a choice about bodywork. I let them know that I heard them when they move an ear, flick their tail, pick up a foot, etc. This helps create trust and supports them staying in the place of rest and digest where healing and learning happens. 

Barbara Breckenfeld, of Movement in Balance