Q: How does this work?
A: According to Jim Masterson, the tendency of horses to mask and compensate for pain is a holdover from wild horse herds. Those that demonstrate physical weakness will be cut out of the herd, and will quickly fall prey to their natural predators. They quickly learn to hide pain, and to wall it off from their consciousness, if possible. Most horses aren’t going to show you that something hurts, unless they are completely unable to hide it. These “walled-off” areas of soreness and pain stay with the horse, create complementary problems and negatively affect performance and well-being. The Bodywork therapies help the horse to re-focus on these areas of tension and blockage and to let go of the tension.
As an analogy to how energy moves in a horse’s body: picture the horse’s musculoskeletal system as a web of inter-connected hoses through which water needs to flow. When there is a kink in one of those hoses, because the muscles have hardened around it, the water cannot flow properly through the system. My Bodywork techniques help release those “kinks” and the energy can flow smoothly again.
Q: How is Bodywork different from equine chiropractic?
A: Chiropractic is based on manual manipulation of the skeleton. My approach to Bodywork is more about releasing tension in muscles / tendons / ligaments / soft tissues that allow the horse’s natural energy to flow freely in the body, supporting pain-free movement.
Q: How is Bodywork different from equine massage?
A: My Bodywork techniques address connections and junctions of muscles, tendons and ligaments deep within the body. Equine massage focuses primarily on the superficial muscle layers that you can see and feel on the horse’s body. Some massage is actually part of my touching therapies.
Q: What will I see when you are working on my horse?
A: During the session, you are likely to see the horse’s eye soften. He/she will often fidget – we usually see yawning, head shaking, licking and chewing, as the horse lets go of internal tensions. Usually you hear more noticeable gut sounds and the horse may pass gas as the GI tract relaxes. Often the shape of the horse changes, and hard, flat muscles relax and plump up which can be felt as you run your hands over the skin. After the sessions, you may observe that your horse will be bringing his nose closer to his front feet during grazing. Another lovely benefit is that your horse becomes more affectionate with you.
Q: How long does the treatment effect last?
A: That depends on each horse’s individual issue(s). Initially, results may last for a few days to a week. Over time, the positive effects are extended, depending on the horse’s lifestyle and work.
Q: How does this affect standing for farrier, vet, etc.?
A: Bodywork can relieve the tension that makes standing on three legs, lifting a leg, and undergoing various veterinary procedures uncomfortable. Just like us humans, horses get nervous and tense when they know they “are going to the doctor.”
Q: Will this reduce my need to use a vet?
A: Bodywork is complementary therapy to the medical diagnosis and treatment of a veterinarian, NOT a replacement. If a serious injury is suspected a check with your veterinarian is strongly suggested.
Q: Can I learn to do Bodywork on my horse?
A: I encourage the humans involved with each horse I work with to learn basic techniques to continue the work accomplished in each session. This is particularly important when I work with a horse only once a month. Effective Bodywork is a combination of expertise, experience and intuition.
Q: How long before a horse can be ridden or worked after a session?
A: Please schedule a rest of 24 – 72 hours depending upon the treatment received. After the initial session it is best to allow 24 hours of no work, the following 24 hours light work, after 48 hours medium work and then back to the regular schedule.
Many of the techniques used with the horse continue working with the nervous system communicating to the brain back to the muscles making the adjustments up to 72 hours. It is important to allow these communications to occur with little disruption. In subsequent sessions, the time off from work will lessen, with a few exceptions here and there. These often can be scheduled prior to the session.
Q: Are there any side effects I should watch for?
A: Most importantly, you should see a happier, more relaxed and potentially more playful horse. Be aware that a series of Bodywork sessions is a bit like peeling an onion – when the first, most obvious issues are taken care of, other, older ones may surface. The horse’s performance and emotional well being evolve over the course of the therapy. This may manifest itself by the horse testing his body, which is now able to move differently, because tension and blockage have been decreased or eliminated. This may happen both at liberty and under saddle. As always, be open to his new signals, adjust and “ride what the horse gives you today.”
Please contact Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Thank you.