The Origin of Bowen

​Equine Bowen Therapy is based on the principles of the Bowen Technique, pioneered by the late Thomas Ambrose Bowen. Born in 1916 in Geelong, Australia, Tom Bowen initially worked on greyhounds and racehorses, having a remarkable result with one horse who came second in the Melbourne Cup. 

    This hands on treatment is not entirely new, many similar techniques have been used on animals in different countries and cultures- accupressure, shiatsu, stress point therapy, myofacial release therapy and equine touch therapy, to name a few. Equine Bowen Therapy is an amalgamation of elements from established practices whose roots go back thousands of years.

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to my fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not deter or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.


- Tom Bowen's favourite quote from John London.


European School of Equine Bowen Therapy

Beth Darrall,

Course Founder

After discovering the Bowen Technique in 1995, Beth trained with Julian Baker, director of the European College of Bowen Studies. She quickly found Bowen taking over from Aromatherapy as her  treatment of choice.

     In 1998, she studied the Neurostructural Integration Technique (N.S.T.) with Australian, Michael Nixon-Livy. She went on to qualify as an advanced practitioner. Once she had become skilled at human Bowen, Beth started to apply some Bowen moves to her own horses with great results.

     Following many requests for a professional approach to Equine Bowen training, Beth started planning and designing a professional training programme for Bowen Therapists wishing to take this versatile healing modality to horses.
     With over 34 years experience, riding and handling horses, Beth set about constructing a training course

that would offer a holistic approach to professional practitioner skills and horse management. Her aim was to produce skilled, knowledgeable therapists who would work along side other professionals in the equestrian industry. It was vitally important to ensure credibility and respect that this excellent therapy so deserves.

     With the assistance and support of Nigel Dodman, veterinary surgeon and Bowen Therapist, and Heather McLain, BHSI, a training course was put together and the first Equine Bowen Therapy courses were held in Gloucestershire in the summer of 2000.
     Beth says the Bowen Technique is the most user (and receiver) friendly modality that she has experienced. It can be anything you need it to be- a sports therapy, a  functional muscula-skeletal therapy, a hormone/blood pressure balancer, an aid to comfortable respiration, a stress reliever and energy booster, the possibilities are infinite!

A Tribute to Shirley Calder

When I received an email from Shirley Calder in  2006 I was particularly excited as I could see it was from New Zealand,  my birth country. Then, when I read what she had to say, my excitement levels went up again; she made me an offer that I

couldn't refuse, to go over to stay with her for a month's intensive training in Equine Bowen Therapy on a one to one basis.

     This was the start of a professional relationship that developed into a great friendship as Shirley and I got to know one another and share our passions of healing and horses. Shirley was an ideal student - she was already very experienced in both the Bowen Technique and had had horses all her life. She was an equine dentist with over 20 years experience and not only practised  but also taught other equine dentists. With her skills and enthusiasm, she was perfect for me to train up the following year as my tutor for New Zealand, so that she could teach the ESEBT Professional Practitioner training course syllabus. 

     After spending another month with us in England and attending my UK ESEBT training courses, Shirley was ready to teach in New Zealand.

Little did I know, that March 2010 would be the last time I would see Shirley in New Zealand. It was such a shock to hear her news, in January 2011, that she had been diagnosed with a tumour on her right lung. Tragically, the disease spread over the next year, but not once did Shirley ever show any signs of giving in to her condition. She never complained and was extraordinary in her bravery and spirit. I felt sure, that if anyone could recover from this dreadful disease, then it had to be Shirley.

It is therefore with a very heavy heart, that I heard she finally passed away on 12th February 2012, peacefully at home, surrounded by loving friends and family. Shirley was greatly loved and respected and she will be so badly missed. 

- Beth Darrall, February 2012

Cath Carden,

NZ Instuctor


Having known Shirley since Pony Club days I had often had her come and give my horses a Bowen Treatment and check their teeth as well. It was late 90's that I first did a weekend horse owners course, but for many reasons it wasn't

until after I had met with Beth Darrell in the UK in 2009 and watching another treatment that I began to think it would be a good idea to become an Equine Bowen Therapist. I commenced the human training through Mark Hunter and Lynne Brown from Queenstown, New Zealand with Fascial Kinetics and completed the 2010 course with Shirley Calder.
     As a rider, riding instructor, ESNZ Performance  Coach and trainer of horses in many disciplines in New Zealand and around the world, the Bowen therapy is a great addition to my skills. To be able to give clients an extra avenue to ensure their horse is feeling the best, by improving the body balance and biomechanics, reducing restrictions in the movement and allowing that softer smoother connected feel.

     It is very satisfying to watch the horses become pain free, changing shape and moving freely again and to see them become  happy enjoying life and work the way it should be. 

It was a shock to see Shirley's health decline, but I was grateful she wished that I continue to teach the course here in New Zealand.

"Beth Darrall is delighted to announce that Cath Garden is now the official Equine Bowen Therapy Instructor for New Zealand. Cath has assisted Shirley on several occasions in the classroom and on practical workshops, she has also stayed with Beth in the UK."


It has been an interesting journey teaching around 40 students, many who are now successfully running busy Bowen practices. As I pursue a slightly different direction one of my students Tash McRoberts will continue to teach the same course.