Healing Horses - An Alternative Approach Can Make The Difference
By Linda Bertschinger

Unfortunately, people often seek alternative methods to healing after they have exhausted the more traditional methods or might I say, traditional beliefs. A wise man would tell you that reality is not dependent on your belief. Ptolemy, the second century astronomer taught that the earth was the center of the universe. This was the accepted belief until Copernicus, the 15th century astronomer, discovered that the sun was the center of the universe. Until the 16th century, the world was believed to be flat. Not until Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator who sailed around the world without falling off the edge, was it believed to be round. It's not to say that traditional medicine is not valid nor that nontraditional medicine is invalid. Perhaps a wise man would say that to seek all available paths to good health would be a wise decision.

On June 2nd, Classicus will offer a seminar devoted to the well-being of the horse. The renowned Dr. Marvin Cain, veterinarian and acupuncturist, will lecture, demonstrate, and treat horses with acupuncture; Gwen Edsall, equine therapist, will also demonstrate and treat horses; Linda Bertschinger, trainer and instructor, will demonstrate a therapeutic approach of training.

Dr. Marvin Cain has been a veterinarian for 35 years, however; all of his work is now devoted to equine acupuncture. He studied at the Chinese Academy of Acupuncture and completed his studies with the "masters" in the orient. Of course, his studies were on humans, not horses. Besides, the meridian points on horses had never been mapped out, yet. Dr. Cain undertook this endeavor using his own horses on his farm in Kentucky. He was the first person to map out the meridian system on horses. In 1974/75 Dr. Cain co-founded the International Veterinarian Acupunctural Society. He then began instructing veterinarians, and his training is now worldwide. Currently, Dr. Cain is working on a research project at the University of Vienna, Austria to show the academic community that acupunctural diagnosis is far superior to what universities are currently using to diagnose. Diagnosis with acupuncture can be made on a subclinical level and is more accurate. For example, with acupuncture EPM can be detected before symptoms become apparent offering a much earlier awareness, thus bettering the chances for successful treatment.

Gwen Edsall was motivated to begin healing work with horses 18 years ago because she owned a horse that had a lot of problems. Her first formal introduction to the healing arts was after reading the book Beating Muscle Injuries in Horses by Jack Meagher that prompted her to receive instruction from him. However, not until she met Dr. Marvin Cain did her "eyes open." Mesmerized by Cain, she spent a lot of time watching and learning from him. Although she is not an acupuncturist, Gwen has used the principles of Dr. Cain's along with her experience to develop her own technique. "The lady with the magic hands," as Gwen has been called, begins her work by scanning the horse with her hands. She then uses several techniques to treat the horse: stretching, lasering acupuncture points, acupressure, and massage. Gwen resides in Millwood, Virginia and is currently constructing a place at home to do her work from.

Although Linda Bertschinger is a trainer of classical dressage, her training is dedicated to the well-being of the horse. Attracted by his compassion for the horse, she studied with Dominique Barbier, who aims to make the horse "light and happy." And likewise, the motivation for her work is to make horses comfortable in their mind and body. Using the principles of classical training, she encourages each horse to find his comfortable position that enables him to perform to his best ability. Most importantly, her training is done in the spirit of asking the horse, not forcing; thus lightness is always sought after.

All three presenters come from very different backgrounds in their training; however, they all share something very special. They all have compassion for the horse and a passion for their work. Classicus invites you to come and share knowledge that will hopefully give you a new awareness of other forms of healing for the horse. Alternative methods do not offer a "quick fix," but they do offer other paths to healing. Consider the words of Robert Frost in his poem "The Road Not Taken": "two roads diverged in the wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."