After a few difficult experiences when I was about nine, horses haven’t been my thing. That changed the other day when I attended a BodyTalk seminar at Namaste Nova health retreat in rural Nova Scotia. Taught by founder Dr. John Veltheim, an Australian now based in Florida, the course is an introduction to the body’s intuitive understanding of its own health issues.

Up the hill from the renovated farmhouse and outbuilding lies a spacious horse barn. Kelley Burry, who runs the centre, is an avid rider. Sometimes she uses horses–and even her two dogs–as part of the healing sessions. Horses, she explains, are tremendously intuitive creatures that pick up a lot from the world around them. In fact, there is a branch of BodyTalk called AnimalTalk, which is used on animals.

One evening Dr. Veltheim decided to help one of the horses, a beautiful former dressage champion named Favorit. He had been abused as a colt, taken from his mother too early and trained with an electric prod. Favorit has a bad case of “cribbing,” an emotional tick like an involuntary cough. It is hard on the animal both physically and emotionally.

The next day Dr. Veltheim gave a few sample treatments for the class and I was one of the subjects. I asked about an old issue with mercury toxicity and he said that was okay, but said I had a lower back injury and over-taxed adrenal glands. Two issues I knew about. He set “programs” to run in my body over the coming weeks to improve these conditions.

The following day I had a private treatment with Kelley and her associate Joc. This time I was lying on a massage table in a field just outside a paddock with four horses inside. During the treatment the two therapists watched the horses. Favorit especially seemed to tune into my issues.

Later, when I was leaving, Favorit came down to the corner of the paddock to say good bye to me. He is a magnificent animal with a regal bearing. As Kelly said, he had tough early years and now he is too much a “gentleman” to take out any aggression on other horses — or on people. He has his own issues and a tremendous empathy with others. I can relate.

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