Welcome to Soul Chat - be Inspired by Empowered Women Thriving with Heart & Soul.
Meet Britta Bruns who created BB Horse Care, a business offering holistic equine bodywork and equestrian Yoga.
- Britta, you are a trained Occupational Therapist. What was your path to then moving into holistic wellbeing for horses and people?
My journey started 20 years ago when I became a certified Occupational Therapist. As an OT you learn to support people in a holistic way. Body, mind and soul are important for the rehab process, that's how it all started I guess.
Through the years I did a lot of extra training for self-development including Resilience for Families, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Feldenkrais Method, Kinesiotaping, Meditation and Yoga.
I also read a lot of books and articles about the nervous system, alternative medicine and well-being to feed my brain. From my own experience, a body is much more than just muscles, joints and bones. It is incredible how powerful our mind and thoughts are in relation to our well-being.
I have been involved with horses since I was a kid and they have always played a very important role in my life. My paint horse mare "Sunny" showed me the way into my equine bodywork path about 15 years ago.
I noticed there are a lot of trainers and instructors who teach people how to communicate with their horse, how to make a horse jump or do special dressage movements but nobody was supporting the riders with their own flexibility issues or lack of awareness for their own body. Everybody just said things like " straighten up" or " put your heels down" or " lift up your head" etc. So I started to consider this and that's why I want to support the rider within their mobility as well.
Horse and rider perform as a team, so if I fix the horse's back problems there is still the question of what actually caused it. Nobody is born as the perfect rider. We all learn and practice to get better. No human being is straight within their alignment, that's nature. All the issues we have within our own body, the horse has to compensate for while we are riding and interacting with them. That's why I want to support the rider as well, not just fix the horse. Holistic thinking.
I am happy to see that more options are becoming available for riders. Not just Yoga and mindfulness but also equestrian pilates or mindset coaching for riders. That is a really good development for the horse world.
- Can you share with us what is involved with holistic equine therapy and bodywork?
Holistic means " the whole self". The techniques I am using are Meridian Massage (based on the knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine), reiki, craniosacral techniques, spine mobilisation, massages and manual approaches e.g. the Masterson Technique. I can use just one, or all of the techniques depending on the issues and the experience of the horse in the past.
The body is a system of different parts and all are connected. I work with the body system, to loosen up tight muscles, relax the nervous system, relieve stress, increase blood flow within affected areas, activate the self-healing power of the body and stimulate the immune system. Back to balance for the whole system. If there is pain or discomfort in one region of the body, the whole body system is affected by that. I am pleased I can mix manual and energetic techniques if I need to.
Some horses are very anxious and respond well to the energetic techniques. Other horses respond better to more "hands-on" based techniques. I am always working WITH the horse, which means I am observing any reaction, body movement and body language, then responding to that.
The horse always "tells" me how it feels or what it wants/needs. A session can take up to two hours, depending on the issues and it is different every time. Each session is as individual as the horses are. I am very passionate about this work. I love to engage with these beautiful souls. It is like meditation for me. I forget the world around me.
Another aspect is very important for my work: I never do a treatment when I am not feeling well. If I am not in my own balance I would postpone the appointment, because the whole engagement process with the horse will not work properly if I have a cold or if I am stressed or tired. My type of work is fully connecting with the horse to help as much as possible getting it back to balance with body, mind and soul.
- What is the relationship that you have with horses?
Do you believe that horses and humans can have soulful relationships that are healing and nurturing for both? I definitely do believe that! More and more people are discovering the healing power horses have for humans.
Horses are our mirrors; their feedback to us is immediate and honest. The options to work with horses for personal development and also within the health sector have increased immensely in the last few years.
Horses can do a lot for us humans to help us find our inner spirit and our inner strength if we start to REALLY listen to what they tell us. We need to be present in the moment to hear that. It is a long path to achieve that. But if you do, your whole relationship and training with your horse reach a higher level.
I could write about this forever! I am following the stories of several horse people who changed their way of training and discovered a new path to engage with horses. I really like what they do, as they are the people who SEE, FEEL, and HEAR what the horse wants to tell them. But that is just my personal opinion of course.
I have been around horses for almost all of my life. It started when I was four years old and is still ongoing. I just love these beautiful souls. My horse 'love of my life' is my beautiful paint horse mare that I got when she was a foal. I had her for 16 years before I sold her because I moved to New Zealand in 2016.
Sunny is now owned by my good friend who has a western riding farm in Germany. I could not be happier because she is looking after her very well and every time I go to Germany I can visit her. This horse taught me so much about myself and she is the reason why I found my path with the horse bodywork and also Yoga. She will always be in my heart that's for sure!
- You have a passion for Yoga and are a trained teacher. What gifts has Yoga brought into your life?
Yoga brought me closer to my real ME. It helped me to let go and not feel guilty anymore because I live my own life now. I always felt guilty in the past about going to New Zealand to live with the love of my life (my Kiwi partner) and leaving my elderly (still in good health) father and my brother who is disabled after a bad car accident behind in Germany. My dad and brother will never be able to visit New Zealand, so I need to go on a regular basis to Germany to visit them.
Through Yoga and meditation I learned that I am important too. It is okay to live my own life, it doesn't mean I don't care or I don't love them. It took a long time for me to understand that.
When I am doing Yoga I have a better feeling for myself. I get ideas, I get creative input; it's wonderful. The best ideas for BB HORSE CARE actually came to me while doing Yoga or meditating.
Yoga gives me peace and a special time with myself. I enjoy taking care of my body and have learned to accept it and love it in all different ways. I appreciate what my body is doing day by day automatically to keep me going. Pretty fascinating to be honest.
Through Yoga I met a lot of new people, some gave me inspiration on my path, others became very close friends and have an important role in my life.
- Britta, you offer Yoga specifically for horse riders. Can you share with us what makes this unique and how you tailor a Yoga session to the rider’s needs?
I was a horse rider myself for about 40 years and the conclusion I came to is, the mobility issues of the rider affects the horse's performance directly because rider and horse perform as a team.
Any injuries, chronic pain or stiffness in our body system have a negative influence on the upright seating position in the saddle (centered riding), the softness in using the reins, the position of the legs and so on. Then the horse has to compensate. It can develop issues within its own health and mobility (high tension, a decrease of mobility, lack of motivation, behaviour problems). A vicious circle.
My goal is, not just "fixing" the horse, but also supporting the rider in their physical body (flexibility, mobility, balance and strength)and mental skills to become more aware of their own body and the horse's. If the rider can feel the horse's movement more specifically it will not just be easier to feel if the horse tenses up to switch into flight mode and maybe run off or rear.
There are signs from the horses before they do spook, run away or buck. Normally it starts with body language, then the tension in the body rises. If the rider has more awareness of the signs, the performance is improved and the communication between rider and horse is deepened. If communication improves, performance will be easier and successful.
The other important part is the mind. While we (I have done this in my riding past as well) engage with our horses, we are most of the time not PRESENT. We still think about stuff at work, what we need to buy for dinner, next day appointments and so it goes on. Or we engage with our horses while we are still stressed from the day.
While we have all this running in our minds we miss the signs the horse gives us to let us know something is not right. That can be a misunderstanding about what we want the horse to do while riding, or something the horse spotted in the distance that worries them. Nobody is perfect and we all learn for a lifetime.
I want to support riders to become more present with practicing mindfulness and also breathing techniques to calm the mind within the Equestrian Yoga session. In my Equestrian Yoga session I do an individual needs assessment with the rider, we practice suitable postures together, breathing techniques to calm the mind (helpful for riders who compete a lot) and work out how to integrate this into the riding routine. If possible we do some of the postures mounted.
I offer workshops with 4-8 people where we practice different Yoga postures, mindfulness and breathing techniques. People get a good idea of what they could practice before they get on the horse. The workshops are not as individual as the one on one session will be, but it is a good way to get into Equestrian Yoga and what it is about.
- What does it take to live one’s truth? Have there been challenges along the way?
My path started 15 years ago. It takes a lot of learning, patience, passion for what you really want in your life and trust in yourself. And the most important thing for me was to STOP comparing myself to others all the time. Everyone is unique and even if two people offer the same services it will be completely different because the two are different personalities with a different history, experience and environment.
It took me some time to listen to myself instead of others and believe in my dream that I am living now. There were a lot of doubts along the way, but also encouragement and inspiration.
I am very happy that I learned to believe in myself and to appreciate all the good skills that I have. I also learned to be authentic, which means you are really YOU. I think this is very important if you work with horses and people who are looking for support.
- Do you believe that there is an increasing willingness for people to consider holistic therapies for themselves and their animals?
Yes, I think there is. People are increasingly looking for alternatives within the health and wellbeing sector. There are also more scientifically proven studies available about the benefit of holistic medicine or therapies including lots of research on the benefits of Yoga and meditation.
It is very interesting to read how Yoga and meditation influence brain function in a positive way. But like always, everyone has to sort out for themselves what is beneficial for themselves or their animals.
- Who and/or what inspires you?
I get a lot of inspiration from books I read or people I meet. I am inspired by some horsemen like Warwick Schiller or Mark Rashid as both have changed their way of training horses to a more horse orientated way. Also from John Strelecky who wrote some books about how to find the important things in life.
I also get inspiration from quotes I read or hear, or from all the training I do. My Yoga teacher training was very inspiring and helpful on my path as well.
- What’s your favourite Yoga practice and why?
I like the Pranayama (breathing techniques) as they calm my mind and give me relaxation. I also like a gentle hatha practice to really FEEL what's happening within the postures. If I want more "exercise" I do a Hatha flow practice.
- Yin Yang questions –
Your personal Yoga practice – Indoors or outdoors? Outdoors
Reading or writing? Reading
PC or mac? PC
Active mindfulness or seated meditation? I like both
Flower garden or veggie garden? Both - one to look at and one to eat from
- What do you most love about horses?
Oh, that's hard to fit in here! To me, horses are beautiful souls; always honest and present in the moment, powerful, spiritual and good companions. They forgive us so many mistakes, they are good teachers (the best in the world), they help us to connect with ourselves, they touch my heart and soul.
I love their smell, their beautiful eyes, the sounds they make, how beautiful they move. I am very thankful for the 16 years with my mare Sunny, the horse love of my life!
To learn more about Britta and BB Horse Care visit