Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Can't Believe It's Not Bowen!

Via HorsePoint EoR learns that yet another equine woo is set to make a marketing push in Australia: Equine Touch.

Horse owners and equine professionals in New South Wales will soon have the opportunity to attend or even host courses in Equine Touch, the gentle form of bodywork that is experiencing an unprecedented rise in popularity throughout the US, UK and Europe, when a new instructor starts running courses across the state later this year.

Why is there always a new therapy every few years that is experienceing "an unprecedented rise in popularity"? Could it be that the old (but just as popular) therapy didn't deliver? And note: popularity, while it starts with the letter "p", is not the same as proof.

The article includes a section "About Equine Touch" which, with its mentions of "unique... miraculous results... innate healing system... energy patterns and emotional armour... premier equine care discipline", is quite clearly JAUEW (Just Another Unproven Equine Woo). This is only scraping the surface of how deeply unscientific, unproven, and unsupportable the claims for this magic are though. Take a look at the homepage for this modality (EoR uses the term "modality" in the sense of "something to extract money from horseowners").

Equine Touch is a non-diagnostic, noninvasive, energy and connective soft tissue discipline which works at a complete holistic level; that is, it addresses the equine as a whole without paying any particular attention to any named problem as such.

It's so "holistic", it's also "complete"! Not only that, it treats the "equine as a whole" as well! Luckily, since it doesn't actually treat anything, there can be no failures either. Like all woo treatments, it does something indefinable to "energy" to "rebalance" the horse's "innate healing power":

These procedures when performed with Accuracy, Integrity and Intent (A.I.I.) have the effect of inducing deep relaxation, releasing hypertonic and traumatized muscles, encouraging muscle tone recovery from injury and atrophy, reducing the pain spiral, and assisting in detoxification and lymphatic drainage. The horse through these series of gentle moves is trained to rebalance not only physically but emotionally, energy blocks are released, unwanted structures appear to dissolve, and the flow of Ki is stimulated through the meridians, allowing the equine to attain and maintain the ideal state of homeostasis in which its own innate healing power is able to work to its maximum potential.

EoR has no idea what "Ki" is. Qi is a weird enough religious concept, but Ki?

Again, like all unproven ineffective "therapies" there's also the usual admission that it doesn't actually work:

The Equine Touch is not designed or intended in any way in whole or in part to be a substitute for orthodox allopathic veterinary practice. It is not a therapy as such but a holistic gift to the equine which is as complementary to allopathic address as it is to chiropractic, homeopathy and herbal medicine as well as the horses own healing system. [...] The Equine Touch is quite simply a discipline, a set of pre ordained procedures that the student or practitioner applies to the horse no matter what problem the equine presents at the time.

How could it possibly work? EoR's glad you asked:

Equine Touch was developed in 1997 by Europe's leading Bowen consultant and pioneer of the Vibromuscular Harmonization Technique (VHT), Jock Ruddock. Jock originally addressed the equine's body by transposing his VHT soft tissue moves from the human to the horse using his own unique aikido based muscular vibration move. Later however, after he was joined by his veterinary surgeon wife Ivana, he studied and researched the mechanics of the animal as an individual species as well its associated energy patterns and the emotional armor. Subsequently he amended and evolved his approach

EoR is shocked Mr Ruddock doesn't mention quantum vibrational massage there. He's missing out on a whole marketing opportunity!

It's supported by a whole bunch of alternative organisations. It's supported by various natural horsepersonships. It's supported by a vet in the Czech Republic who claims it's good for treating "combustion's" (whatever those are - and ignoring the fact that the originator himself says it doesn't actually "treat" specific conditions).

Now, some might think that Equine Touch was remarkably similar to Bowen Therapy for Horses wherein magic massage realigns various muscles and energies. But it's not the same at all. It's completely different. It's even spelled differently.

The Equine Touch is not "Bowen for Horses". [...] Equine Touch was originally developed in its rudiments in Scotland by Jock Ruddock who acknowledges the inspirational influence of Tom Bowen in the pioneering stages of his human discipline ‘Vibromuscular Harmonization Technique ’ from which the foundation for the Equine Touch was initially transposed. Over the years The Equine Touch has grown from a simple basic form of body balancing to a totally unique equine bodywork discipline which with dedication, research and experience has evolved onto such a higher plane of content, focus and address that no comparison between the afore named therapies can reasonably be made.

No comparison at all. Except they both work by unexplained means by some sort of magic touch on the horse. And that they're both unproven. And that you can become practitioners in both after a few days' training (a total of 14 days and $US1950 if you want to reach the Level 4 Master status though you can get your Equine Touch Practitioner Diploma four days earlier at the Level 3 course), by learning the mysteries of things such as "Body Blancing [sic]", "Advanced Area of Concern Addresses" and "Understand the choreography of Area of Concern Addresses".

Compare this description of Bowen Therapy by a practitioner to the Equine Touch description given above:

The Bowen Technique is a gentle, non-intrusive hands on therapy which stimulates the body's inner ability to heal itself to be activated. This reorganisation of the musculature of the body can bring increased energy levels and pain relief.

So Equine Touch is totally different from Bowen. Got it? Don't get them confused.


  1. "We are urgently looking for new venues. Hosting a course is easy: we need at least four people per course, so you’ll need to gather some friends together or advertise locally."

    Has a certain style... surely it couldn't be Multi Level Marketing? Compare to Ratbag's Five Red Flags...

  2. Must be awful to go through life so cynical about the body's innate ability to heal itself.

    The author might want to read some Dr Andrew Weil, or research 5,000 years of Chinese Medicine successes, or learn what Qi, Chi, Ki represent.

    Or check Columbia Presbyterian Hospital's Complementary and Alternative Medicine program, or others, for hard data on how what you don't know how to spell in different cultures (Chi, Qi, Ki) tie into clinical trials proving better patient outcomes.

    This page is not investigative journalism, it's not the scientific method. It's criticizing a successful bodywork modality for language that has obviously been vetted by lawyers, or didn't you get that part?

    This sort of knee-jerk naysaying does not serve the public good, or the advancement of what we know to be true about science and medicine.

    It's the sort of backwardness that persecuted Copernicus for his forward thinking notions of a universe not revolving around the earth like the Catholic Church insisted, and would've kept Columbus huddled on a flat earth beach instead of sailing over the horizon to the New World had he believed its intellectual equivalent in 1492.

  3. "They made fun of Galileo, and he was right.
    They make fun of me, therefore I am right."
    The Galileo Gambit.

    It must be awful to go through life so cynical of different viewpoints from your own.

    The public good consists in utilising modalities that have an evidence based background. Not selling woolly thinking to the gullible and/or the desperate.


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