Q&A with Anna Kudick, Equine CranioSacral Therapist
Anna Kudick is an Equine and Human CranioSacral therapist with Pure Body Balance, LLC. based in Wisconsin. She is a graduate of Fox Valley School of Massage in Appleton, WI and is certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Anna is a graduate of CranioSacral Therapy levels I and II with the Upledger Institute, Visceral Manipulation with Barral Institute, and is currently studying osteopathy with the Vluggen Institute for Equine Osteopathy and Education. In addition, she has studied equine CranioSacral therapy with Maureen Rogers.
How did you become interested in CranioSacral Therapy?
I’ve been riding since I was six years old and have basically grown up with horses. As far as riding goes, I’ve focused on western riding and western pleasure. As a young adult, I kept hearing about equine CranioSacral therapy (CST) from different people, including my trainer. I finally decided to give it a try for myself. I was amazed with the results as it really helped with my migraine headaches.
It was then that I decided to give it a try with one of my horses. I took my horse to Wendy Wolf, a CranioSacral therapist and animal communicator. It made a huge difference for my horse. His carriage immediately changed and he became much more supple. At that point, I decided I really wanted to know more about this therapy.
I found Maureen Rogers, who offers courses on equine CST and flew to Maryland to take both the level I and level II courses. I started working on horses in 2007. A couple years later, I went to human massage school in order to become licensed in CranioSacral therapy for humans as well.
What is CranioSacral therapy exactly?
CST is quite complex. But in essence, it’s the hands-on evaluation of the CranioSacral system—the brain and surrounding tissues, the spinal cord, dura matter (which is inside the spine and surrounds the brain), and the sacrum. It is also the evaluation of the nervous system—the cerebral spinal fluid, the meninges (inside the vertebrae), and the bony structures. The body is always in one of two states: building up or breaking down tissue. This is what we have to determine.
We use something called the CranioSacral rhythm (CSR) to get a sense of well-being. This is a palpable and measurable assessment, and what we are looking for is the amplitude—the overall strength of vitality. The CSR is usually palpated at the sacrum (end of the spine), but not always.
Since I’m now in school for equine osteopathy, we have a different term for the CSR. It’s called the ’primary respiratory mechanism’ (PRM), but it’s the same thing.
There are five elements of the PRM or CSR:
1.) mobility of the CranioSacral bones;
2.) mobility of the internal membranes;
3.) fluctuation of CranioSacral fluid;
4.) inherent mobility of the brain and dura matter;
5.) movability of the sacral bone between the ileum (pelvis).
As CranioSacral therapists, we are basically acting like ‘plumbers’. We have to determine where the weakest fluid flow is in the body and then open those structures up to allow fluid to flow freely. We use gentle finger pressure to do this—and this could be on any part of the body. What we do complements the body’s natural healing processes, so CST can be used for preventative measures, as well as to help with a wide range of issues.
One thing to keep in mind is this: If there has been any kind of trauma, it will impact the CranioSacral fluid and disturb the CranioSacral rhythm.
What types of equine issues can CranioSacral therapy be used for?
As mentioned above, CST can really be helpful for a broad spectrum of issues. Some examples are behavior problems, lameness, head-shaking, trauma, birthing trauma, or even to help increase suppleness. It can also be helpful for young horses as their bodies are growing and adjusting to training.
Can you tell us about a specific issue in which CranioSacral therapy really made an immediate difference?
When one of my own horses was four years old and in training, he developed a sarcoid in his third eyelid. I took him to the vet where he was given immune boosting vaccinations. He developed behavioral problems shortly after this and became very spooky and even dangerous at times.
I was a new practitioner at that time, but I did CST on him and his behavior immediately changed back to the way he’d been before, which was very calm and easy to handle. The nervousness was completely gone. This horse was the reason I decided to keep pursuing and learning all I could about CST.
Is CranioSacral therapy helpful when used in conjunction with other holistic therapies or better used alone?
CST is great when used in conjunction with chiropractic work. In fact, it can really help when a horse shows positive results with chiropractic, but the adjustments don’t ‘hold’.
But it can really be used in conjunction with many different therapies. In my opinion, all holistic modalities can and should be used together for the greater good of our animals and ourselves.
If you’d like to learn more about Anna and what she does, please visit her website, Pure Body Balance, LLC.