Equine Bowen Therapy in New Zealand

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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, staying with her for the duration.

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 practiced, 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. Shirley completely understood my strong opinions about the importance of credible training standards and supported my ideals.

After spending another month with us in England and attending my UK ESEBT training courses, Shirley was ready to teach in New Zealand. Shirley always made myself and my partner, John, very welcome when we stayed with her, introducing us to her family and friends. We were lucky to be invited back to help run courses again in 2009 and 2010, so that I could oversee how the students and practitioners were progressing. In 2010, we spent a week at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show, sharing the stand and accommodation with other EBT practitioners, so we had a great opportunity to all get to know each other well.

Shirley then decided to also train up and teach Fascia Kinetics (another interpretation of Tom Bowen's work) so that she would be able to take on students who wanted to learn EBT, but needed to train in human Bowen first. Then, ambitious as ever, Shirl developed her own Small Animal Bowen training course, adding yet another string to her bow. I used to wonder where she got all her energy from!

Little did I know, that March 2010 would be the last time I saw the talented, funny and inspirational 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 by all who knew her and she will be so badly missed. The horse world has lost a talented and compassionate healer, who loved life, all animals and loved to share knowledge with like minded folks. My sincere condolences go out to her family, mother Ngaire, with whom we stayed with on one visit, her fabulous sister, Bev and her husband, John from Castor Bay, and her brother, Bruce and his family, who we also met.

For current students in New Zealand, qualified EBT practitioner Cath Garden will be taking over the reins for the EBT training course. Cath has assisted Shirley on several occasions in the classroom and on practical workshops and has stayed with us in the UK. I am very happy that Cath has been able to do this and I feel sure Shirl will be watching over us all with her beaming smile.

I will forever been grateful to Shirl for the opportunity she gave me in inviting me to New Zealand and I will miss her more than words can say.

Beth Darrall February 2012


Cath Garden - Contact

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 90s that I first did a weekend horse owners course, but for many reasons it wasnt 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. So 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 Preformance 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 co-ordinated 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.


Beth Darrall is delighted to announce that Cath Garden is now the official Equine Bowen Therapy Instructor for New Zealand. Contact Cath at www.equinebowentherapy.co.nz

Next course in NZ starts April/May 2015


View our small but growing number of Practitioners in New Zealand