The health, well being and athletic ability of our competitive horses often depends upon a “Team” of dedicated professionals and individuals.
Our veterinarians, farriers, saddle fitters, trainers, riders, owners, grooms and barn managers etc., all share in bringing out “the best of the beast!”
As with most highly physical and demanding sports, aches and pains, injuries are likely to occur, to a lessor or greater degree.
Over the past 20 years, I have had the privilege of being a part of “the Team.” Working with these powerful athletes is nothing short of amazing…my joy, my passion! So, what do I do? I will attempt to be concise, putting into words that which is touch, feel and intuitive…
Massage Bodywork is direct, hands on manipulation of muscles and joints.
Using various rubbing, kneading, direct pressure, cupping techniques etc., to open and release tissue, stimulating blood flow and nerve response. Often, the release of tissue will allow for better ROM of certain joints which had been “stuck” due to spasm or stress of tendon and ligament. It is a natural, non-invasive way to relieve stiff, tight, sore areas due to great physical exertion.
As we all know, horses, whether “mini” or “maxi” are incredibly strong, with superb muscling designed to carry them far, fast ‘n furious, thus ensuring their survival. Now we can harness all that power and for the most part, instead of “beasts of burden,” the horse has become our companion… They are willing to carry us on a trail, rock around barrels, dance down the center line and fly over fences. All of which puts high demands on those big muscles and crazy, “fragile” legs and joints!
When muscle groups get stiff, sore, or tight, there is generally limited range of motion, impaired circulation, and decreased performance capabilities. This can also be exhibited by a change in behavior, unwillingness to do the task at hand, showing various signals of pain etc. So, getting your horse a thorough massage bodywork session can often alleviate these problem states or uncover a variety of underlying issues. Sometimes these issues are easily resolved… sometimes other intervention may be required.
I can give you many instances where I have helped my clients and their sturdy steeds get back to training and showing. A great example was a client who had a horse in the “problem sate.” He was tight in the lower back and flat at the jump. As I worked the horse over from top of poll to tail and everything in between, it became clear to me what muscle groups were comfortable and what groups were having spasms, tensing up or over compensating. Even working the great masseter of the jaw, which was extremely rigid and slightly swollen with a high aversion to touch. Other areas, like the base of the neck, chest, girth, along with a very tight topline, low lumbar region, all exhibited stress to some degree. After a few weeks of massages, this guy was once again a comfy, keen athlete, back on track and enjoying a successful show season!
Truth be told, one does not have to have a “problem” to find benefit in good thorough bodywork. In fact, most of my clients are in superb condition; they just work hard on a regular basis and truly appreciate the session. It improves their horses’ attitudes, energy and alertness. A happy, comfortable horse engenders a great ride, with less chance for strain or injury. Muscles that return to a pre-active state more efficiently, contribute to the overall comfort, flexibility and a decrease in stiffness which allows for better “game readiness!” Trainers and riders are very appreciative of this as well.
So, remember as you are gearing up for your next endeavor, there is a way to get more power and strength with improved flexibility. As hard as your horse works, give him/her the benefit of being the best they can be!
Give me a call, I am happy to discuss the possibilities of helping you and your horse “rock ‘n roll!”
Helen Davies, ESMT, MS, TCM, LAC.
Helen’s Hands, LLC
P.S. for those of my “2-Legged” clients here’s a suggestion: Go get a massage… it does a body good!
And you will understand the joy of riding with easy shoulders, strong, flexible lower back and comfy legs.
To that end, give my friends at Elements Massage/ Castle Rock a call. Mention this article, Helen’s Hands, Helen Davies, and you will get a discount on various therapies they offer.
Promenade Center: (303)-663-0162
Metzler Ranch: (303) 663-3702