Zenya Hansen reckons she’s found the perfect balance in her working life … and she has imbalances to thank for it. The 30-year-old — a familiar face behind the counter at downtown Raglan cafÃ© The Shack, where she’s regularly duty manager — has recently launched a parallel career working on body imbalances in horses. And as much as she enjoys the hospitality industry, she says her new horse healing venture is giving her huge satisfaction.
“I think I’ve found what I’m looking for,” says Zenya as she juggles flat whites and cakes between chatting with cafe customers. It’s not horse whispering she’s into — that’s more about horse psychology and body language, explains Zenya — but an alternative therapy called flinchlock release which can be practised not only on animals with body imbalances but also on people. Zenya’s work though is solely with horses, her own in particular, one of which she says came with a head-flicking problem that made him virtually unrideable.
Thanks to her perseverance, Zenya reckons she’s now got Sam’s head-flick almost under control and has been rewarded with a former dressage gelding that’s become a pleasure to ride.
Zenya’s second horse too has had a miraculous transformation. An ex-racehorse with a degenerative hip disease, he was destined for the meatworks until Zenya took him in and was able to work a little magic. Although she admits there’s still a way to go, she describes him now as a “lovely horse” who was definitely worth saving.
Horse-mad since she was a girl growing up in Waihi, and intent on finding an effective and efficient healing technique “rather than a bandaid”, Zenya had been looking at going to America to study equine sports massage. But then she happened on what she calls a powerful but still reasonably new therapy that “sits right” with her.
Flinchlock therapy, she says, deals with pressure. It’s a simple technique which relies upon first finding the pressurised bone causing trouble, then working with the body to release that pressure in much the same way a volcano — bubbling beneath the earth’s surface — finally erupts.
The technique is very “learnable”, adds Zenya, who’s now in the first year of a practitioner’s certificate with Ngatea therapist Dale Speedy. The system he founded, known as ConTact C.A.R.E Biomechanical Impactology, focuses on releasing unresolved impact injuries that are preventing normal function.
And while the technique works on horses, says Zenya, it’s just as likely to work on riders. She reckons her own body will be in pretty good shape at the end of her studies, given the therapy she’s had herself while trialling the technique.
Zenya hopes to complete an advanced practitioner’s course next year, but meantime is getting enough hands-on experience to have recently launched her own equine therapy business in Raglan and beyond. In a typical day’s work away from the cafe she might treat anything from four to five horses, or sometimes she might see just one or two before heading out for a ride herself.
The rewards of her horse healing efforts are incredible, she says, sometimes after barely an hour’s work. The whole temperament of a horse that was once, for example, stiff in the shoulder or limping from an earlier accident alters once the trouble is eased. “Their eyes soften, their lips drop, they change in all sorts of ways … it makes me feel great.”
Zenya reckons horses are so intuitive they even use their own body language to “show” her where to go next when working on them. “And they’ll position their body to get me in the right position (to do the work).”