What to expect in an Ortho-Bionomy session – for people or animals!

Many times people ask me what to expect in an Ortho-Bionomy session, either for themselves or their animal. That’s a broad question, because it will depend largely on what is going on in the body at the time of treatment.IMG_0630

A general assessment is the first step, identifying where I can work on the body or if I can work on it physically at all. All inquiries are done to explore movement, or find a way to work which does not engage pain. Generally the session evolves according to what the body might need next.

Ortho-Bionomy for people is conducted fully-clothed in a practice room. I’ve also done sessions in barns and on hay bales. I generally make house calls for horses, although sometimes horses are brought to me.


The work is excellent for pain relief and can seem very gentle yet is very powerful. Because it works on the principles of “less is more,” and “moving away from pain” rather than toward it, the body has space and opportunity to find its own health and allow that to blossom to all other parts of the being. High impact injuries such as those sustained after traffic accidents, falls from horses, and other situations can be greatly helped along by this modality. Post-surgical clients can often not receive more forceful treatments and benefit from Ortho-Bionomy. An added bonus for these clients is that it helps move the anesthetics out of the body. Many clients report change in the area we’re working on, but also in other areas that they aren’t focusing on at the time. While we’re working on a leg for example, they may report that their elbow no longer hurts.

I also experience a lot of pain relief from gentle exercise or even in some cases, more intense exercise, although that might induce more pain. Recently my granddaughter Ariana and I went to our Nia class and she said her neck which has been bothering her, felt better afterwards. My shoulder felt better too. I think there is a beautiful dance (no pun intended on Nia dancing :-)) between exercise and bodywork. The same is true with our horses. If you watch a horse during a session of Equine Ortho-Bionomy or Equine Positional Release, they move around a lot, integrating the work, getting it to work for them. I often say the key to horses’ health is movement. Allow them enough movement or provide it if they’re not able to move too much in their environments, and they will be a lot healthier than the sedentary horse. I believe it is the same for humans. That’s why doctors try to get you out of the hospital as soon as possible, besides the fact that they have a waiting list for beds a mile or two long. That’s why there is such a thing as ‘physical therapy’ too.

[Catherine Sobredo Photography]
[Catherine Sobredo Photography]
Ortho-Bionomy is not by any means the only modality that can help pain relief. How it works: it awakens the intelligence in the body so that it can begin to heal itself. It receives the Ortho-Bionomy information and decides on its own how it can best use that information. It may happen in one session or it may take several sessions and then the person or animal doesn’t need it very often or at all.  This type of response is not accomplished with modalities that push a response from the body or seek to make the body hold itself a particular way. We are seeing more and more modalities offered that are gentle, keying into the body’s energy rather than some formulaic idea of “everybody’s” needs. This work requires a sensitivity that must be developed over time, with experience. It requires listening to all body parts and being in the moment, very much as animals are all the time.

The principles of Ortho-Bionomy include:

-Less is more – Ortho-Bionomy is a powerful but gentle modality so a body can benefit from less work rather than more.

-Movement away from pain – always checking in to make sure that movement doesn’t hurt.

-“Right relationship” – being really in tune with the client.

-Re-education – reminding the body of what it inherently knows.

-Timing – always going with the timing of the body, recognizing the body’s ability to respond.

-Healing from within rather than practice imposed from outside.

Bodywork reminds the body to stay in touch with its self-corrective mechanism and helps it stay healthy during the colder weather.

Private sessions and gift certificates are available by calling 505.501.2478 or emailing susansmith@orthohorse.info

Click on this flyer to find out about my upcoming Liberty Clinic to be held March 30th in Santa Fe.


(c) Susan Smith, OrthoHorse


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