History of Equine Touch in the UK and Ireland

“Equine Touch was just something that just happened, and evolved to where it now is in the equine world simply because it works” Jock Ruddock, the pioneer and founder of ET

In 1997 Jock first started to work on horses in Aberdeen in Scotland using a direct transposition of his human VHT moves onto the Equine.  At that time VHT did not have an identity as such and was being called ‘Advanced Bowen’ by the Bowen community. As a result of this connection the as yet unnamed Equine Touch began its life being called ‘Bowen for Horses’. This was not an accurate description of ET but as there was never any plan to advance with the work Jock just continued working on horses at the weekends with no thought or idea to what he had created. To be fair to the creation of the work Jock pays tribute to Irene Morrans, one of his students in Aberdeen who talked him into showing her where and in what order she should do the VHT moves on a horse to see if it would work. It did, and so the baby that was to ultimately become The Equine Touch was born.

Jock continued to work on horses throughout Scotland alongside his busy human practice which saw him working on clients from Fort William in the North to Dunbar in the South.  This continued until 1998 when he was teaching Bowen and VHT in the Czech Republic and was asked to work on their steeplechase Champion, Cipisek. As a result of the success of his work he was invited by Veterinary Surgeon Zdenek Zert, the head of Equine Surgery at the Czech Veterinary University to teach his system to his veterinary associates. It was now called ‘The Gentle Touch for Horses’. The vets who attended found Module 1 the foundation technique so beneficial and complementary to their allopathic work that they asked for more and as a result Module 2, now the intermediate level, was developed and in 1999 was taught for the first time.

On returning to the UK, Jock continued to divide his time between teaching and working on humans as well as working on horses when required. No thought had been given to working on horses though a great deal of interest was shown as the news filtered out of Czech, but at that time the system was only being taught to vets, despite their advice to Jock that he should be teaching it to horse owners. It was while working in Zimbabwe that Jock started to teach ET to non veterinary students, due to the lack of equine care available under the despotic Mugabe regime. As a result of this and after he and Ivana who were married in January 2000, began to teach the modality in Hawaii and the United States, requests began to arrive to teach their work in the United Kingdom.

It was on their first teaching trip to Ireland for their Bowen Therapy Association, that they found out there was a horse modality also being taught by an Australian girl, Allie Gower, called ‘Bowen for Horses’.  After seeing the one page drawing that this (EMRT) work was being taught from at the time – it was decided that it was necessary to come up with an official name for Jock and Ivana’s work so that there would be no confusion (though comparisons remain to this day) and so the name ‘The Equine Touch’ was born.

Jock Course at Ballyloughin.jpg

Although a couple of ET clinics in conjunction with human clinics were held in Northern Ireland it was not until 2001 that ET clinics began to be held regularly in the UK hosted by Lyn Palmer at her stables in Meare, near Glastonbury. At first as always with any new, unheard of modality comes to town, students were sparse but very interested, however that all changed in October 2002 when Jock was invited to present ET to the Natural Horse World at the Parelli Conference at Solihull. The result was explosive, ET had arrived, new instructors had to be trained and appointed to cater for the demand from horse owners to learn to look after and care for their horses in a way never before envisaged.

The modality was presented to and at once recognized by the Institute for Complementary Medicine (ICM) and the British Complementary Medical Association (BCMA) though since then neither of these bodies recognize modalities for animals.

The Equine Touch then became the first equine bodywork modality to be given UK National Educational Accreditation when it was recognized by Asset. However as with all UK Government Educational brainwaves, Asset was eventually dissolved and taken over by another private corporate education body, and after one year of recognition by them, and extracting rather high fees, they decided that they had no expertise in the field of animal education and withdrew their interest in anything with four legs.

Despite this setback from an establishment point of view Equine Touch thanks to its dedicated team of Instructors, Practitioners and Students has continued to evolve and grow to where it is one of the largest Equine Bodywork discipline taught and practised in the United Kingdom with large numbers of students attending ET clinics at all levels each year. In 2019 the new practitioner's route was fully approved by LANTRA. More details on this training route for the practitioner can be read under the Training tab on this website.

From a humble 3 day horse owner’s clinic ET has over the past 10 years in the UK been developed into a fully comprehensive equine modality which allows the genuine horse carer to travel at their own time and in keeping with their own finances through a journey of education, understanding and hands on practical application in order to help not only their own horses but the horses of others have a higher, healthier and pain free quality of life that they might never have had before.

Going forward, the drive will always be to encourage horse owners to learn this technique to support their own horses. Becoming a practitioner will be the icing on the cake!