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Archive for the ‘Equine Bodywork’ Category

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Photo by Patti Bose from IS YOUR HORSE 100%? by Margret Henkels.

It’s a question we are all faced with, more often than not. Is my horse feeling his best? Is he free from aches, pains, tension, anxiety? It can be difficult for well-meaning owners, riders, and caretakers to pinpoint the real issue when a horse is “off,” “not himself,” or just unable to tap into his performance potential. Whether we are just pleasure riders or aiming for gold, a horse that is not 100% fit and able leaves us worried, frustrated, and searching for answers.

Enter equine bodywork practitioner Margret Henkels, who in her new book IS YOUR HORSE 100%? reveals a whole new world of possibility with her Conformation Balancing method, which works with the horse’s myofascia, or fascia, to release sources of physical and emotional strain and trauma, opening the doors wide open to long-term health and unparalleled fitness.

“Myofascia is the gossamer white tissue in the body that connects all the horse’s body’s parts, including bones, muscles, and all the different body systems,” Henkels explains in her book. “Its unique properties are almost unknown to us, despite its central role in the healthy functioning of all bodies, including humans. As the ‘internet’ of the body, myofascia communicates with all parts instantly, while also giving the horse structure and organization.

“The elusive properties of fascia allow it to slip through the cracks of science, but it is now a health and fitness frontier. Myofascial work is one of the myriad holistic ways to progress body health and fitness, along with massage, chiropractic, meridian work, acupuncture, and acupressure. The unique internet-like structure of fascia means that your work with fascia is actually much easier, since you are not searching for tiny points or meridians, or other small areas on the horse. It is an ever-present, organizing tissue that connects all the parts.”

In IS YOUR HORSE 100%? Henkels provides basic steps to not only analyzing and tracking the horse’s conformation, but also to using your hands in a series of simple, noninvasive placements and movements, to “melt” adhesions in the fascia, correct compensations, and direct the horse’s body in positive releases that allow healing from the inside out.

This is a whole new way of looking at our horses’ fitness and health, and our own ability to play an integral role in enhancing it.

 

Is Your Horse 100

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IS YOUR HORSE 100%? is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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One of the best perks of working for an equestrian book publisher (assuming you are just the littlest bit horsey) is the constant immersion in equine-related theory, philosophy, and how-to. There is so much opportunity to absorb the ideas of great horsepeople and to try their techniques and methods for oneself—or to come to understand their intentional lack thereof (yes, that happens, too). Because really, if I’ve learned anything in this job, it’s that there isn’t just one main highway to our destination. There are many, less traveled, circuitous back roads, and finding them, and being willing to venture down them to see where they go—that is the true journey of horse and human.

Here are 10 important lessons from some of TSB’s top authors:

 

10  When there’s not enough time, do 10 to 15 minutes of liberty.

“Many people don’t get to their horse in a day because they feel it is too big a task to gear up for,” says horseman Jonathan Field in his book THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES. “So they don’t do anything. Short and fun liberty sessions can bring you out to your horse more often. You will be amazed at how your horse starts to meet you at the gate.”

 

9  Our own riding fitness enables the horse to perform what we ask of him.

“The way a rider uses her body greatly impacts the way the horse is enabled or blocked from using his,” explains certified personal trainer and riding coach Heather Sansom in FIT TO RIDE IN 9 WEEKS! “The relationship is biomechanical….both species can impact one another. This is why the rider’s role of leadership through physical contact is so important, and why a rider who is fit for the task can ride better—and with greater resilience or prevention of injury.”

 

8  Sometimes, don’t ask for anything.

“The horse follows you with a lowered head and filled with a spirit of freedom…the result of your not asking for anything, just being, even if only for a fleeting moment,” writes renowned horseman Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling in THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE. “To be devoted without asking for devotion in return, to be friendly without demanding friendship…that is when the horse can give us trust and closeness.”

 

TSB author Jonathan Field. Photo by Robin Duncan.

TSB author Jonathan Field. Photo by Robin Duncan.

 

7  Control your emotions.

“Try not to go overboard,” recommends Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau in THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO. “Don’t gush, fuss, and fiddle about…Be quiet, polite, and still, inside and out. Clear your head and self from all that troubles you, and give your horse your undivided attention.”

 

6  Invest in self-kindness.

“When you miss a lead change in a pattern or test or forget to schedule the farrier before your horse throws a shoe,” explains author and horsewoman Melinda Folse in RIDING THROUGH THICK & THIN, “extend to yourself the same warmth and understanding you would to a close friend who has suffered a setback….If you’re not enjoying yourself, you’ll probably struggle with riding to your true potential.”

 

5  Use all your senses to observe and explore your horse’s body.

“Be on the alert for symptoms such as body soreness, uneven gait, a tight neck, a sour attitude, explosive or resistant behavior, stocking up, and pinned ears,” writes equine expert Linda Tellington-Jones in DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL. “All of these problems, and others, can be avoided by alternating your training schedule with trail riding, ground driving, or other types of cross-training…expand your training routine, and keep your horse interested and engaged in his work.”

 

TSB author Yvonne Barteau. Photo by FireandEarthPhoto.com.

TSB author Yvonne Barteau. Photo by FireandEarthPhoto.com.

 

4  When it comes to the show ring, be flexible.

“One of the risks of competition is becoming so focused on achieving success that you miss the signs that your partner is unhappy,” says psychotherapist and riding instructor Andrea Waldo in BRAIN TRAINING FOR RIDERS. “Horses have different rates of development and different levels of stress tolerance. Just because one horse is ready for a particular level at age five doesn’t mean that the next horse will automatically do the same. Some horses can show every weekend without a problem, but some horses need to compete less often.”

 

3  Be okay with “eventually.”

“Everything moves so fast in our modern world,” say horse trainer Susan Gordon and veterinary pioneer Dr. Allen Schoen in THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN. “Our expectation is to get instant results. Creatures of low technology, such as our animals, suffer the most for our desire to have everything happen in a virtual instant. On one hand, you need a quick, flexible mind to respond to a horse’s instinctive prey-animal tendencies during training, but it is also important to understand the value of repeating those responses with a lot of patience and consistency.”

 

2  Use dynamic friction instead of static friction.

“Whereas static friction relies primarily on force, mass, and energy to first stick an object before moving it,” writes world-renowned horseman Mark Rashid in JOURNEY TO SOFTNESS, “dynamic friction relies on establishing subtle movement first, then adding energy to build on that movement…establish contact with the horse, followed by the development of subtle movement to establish a flow of direction, and finally put the proper amount of speed into that flow so as to accomplish the desired task.”

 

1  Be willing to have a two-way conversation.

“When you are truly in a dialogue, you can never predict how a horse will answer you on any given day,” explains Sharon Wilsie in her groundbreaking book HORSE SPEAK. “Many of you value your relationship with your horse as much as you value his performance. Deeper bonds of friendship will blossom as you show your horse you are willing to listen and learn his language instead of just expecting him to respond to yours.”

 

 

For more information about any of these books, CLICK HERE to visit the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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The major muscles of locomotion in the horse.

A basic understanding of how the horse’s muscles create movement is essential to riders and trainers as they seek answers to training issues, and it also allows them to play an active part in keeping the horse pain-free and performing well by including bodywork in their regular care regimen.

In THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED WITH THE MASTERSON METHOD Jim Masterson and Coralie Hughes teamed up with Grand Prix dressage rider Betsy Steiner and creator of the Anatomy in Motion VISIBLE HORSE and VISIBLE RIDER Susan Harris to provide a practical level of baseline biomechanics knowledge to support solutions to dressage training problems. Susan Harris painted the primary muscles involved in the work of the dressage horse on an equine accomplice, and hundreds of photographs capture their activity as the horse was then ridden through various movements.

“Muscles can’t push, they can only ‘pull’ (contract) or ‘not pull’ (relax),” says dressage rider and Masterson Method practitioner Coralie Hughes in the book. “Relaxation is as important as contraction—or strength—in the muscle….Tension that inhibits the muscle from being able to fully relax or contract reduces range of motion of the joint with the resultant impact on performance. Furthermore, a muscle that is tight is putting unnatural tension on its tendon, which can actually torque the skeleton. Prolonged unnatural tension can potentially cause tendon and joint damage in the feet and legs.”

For more on the specific biomechanics of the dressage horse, as well as dozens of Masterson Method techniques to relieve tension in the muscles, ease discomfort, and improve the horse’s performance overall, check out THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

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Each year, as we flip the last pages of December in anticipation for the beginning of January, we at TSB take some time to pause and consider the books we published over the past months. Not only does this process provide an important review of content in preparation for future titles, it also gets us excited, all over again, about the new riding, training, and horse-care skills and techniques our fabulous equestrian authors have shared. In 2015, we tapped the deep well of mindfulness, honed our grooming abilities, and viewed the dressage horse from the inside-out. We found new ways to improve our horses’ confidence and attention, in and out of the ring, had burning questions answered by top judges, and discovered new pursuits that make kindness with our horses and others the goal and guiding principle. We found reasons to ride light, think deeply, laugh, and be thankful for our lives with horses.

We look forward to bring you more top-notch horse books and DVDs in the New Year—until then, here’s the roll-call of TSB equestrian titles for 2015:

 

TrainRidewConesPoles-300TRAINING AND RIDING WITH CONES AND POLES (March) by Sigrid Schope is a spiral-bound handbook with over 40 exercises intended to improve your horse’s focus and response to the aids while sharpening your timing and accuracy. Who hasn’t looked for ways to spice up ringwork and keep his/her horse interested in schooling circles? Here’s the answer, whether you’re practicing on your own in the ring or teaching lessons.

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GALLOP TO FREEDOM (Paperback reprint—March) by training superstars Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado. TSB was the first to bring you thoughts on training and working with the original stars of the international hit show Cavalia, publishing their book back in 2009. The continued value in this storied couple’s work meant that six years later, it was time to release the bestseller anew in paperback.

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WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES (April) by professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford with over 1200 color photographs by professional photographer Jessica Dailey. A bestseller before it was released, this unparalleled photo reference gives every horse owner the tips and tools he/she needs to keep horses in tip-top condition, looking and feeling their best, in and out of the show ring.

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THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN (May) by renowned veterinarian and author Dr. Allen Schoen and trainer Susan Gordon provides 25 principles each of us should live by when caring for and working with horses. Using personal stories and current scientific research, the two write convincingly of the need for an industry-wide movement to develop deeper compassion for not only the horses, but the people, as well.

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THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED (June) by Masterson Method founder and author of BEYOND HORSE MASSAGE Jim Masterson and dressage rider Coralie Hughes. Jim and Coralie team up with Grand Prix dressage rider Betsy Steiner and creator of Anatomy in Motion Visible Horse and Visible Rider Susan Harris to demonstrate how the muscular and skeletal structure of the horse work in dressage movements. Then Jim provides specific techniques from his popular form of bodywork to alleviate stress and improve performance.

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DRESSAGE Q&A WITH JANET FOY (July) by FEI/USEF dressage judge Janet Foy. This easy-to-use reference is a follow-up to Janet’s incredibly popular DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, featuring the most common questions she has received over the years. Janet tells it how it is, and includes plenty of her own stories from the road to keep us laughing while learning.

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OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES (September) by Vanessa Bee, author of the bestselling HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and 3-MINUTE HORSEMANSHIP. Vanessa has made a name for herself as a terrific educator, delivering superior and thoughtful training techniques in bite-size chunks. OVER, UNDER, THROUGH doesn’t disappoint, with loads of step-by-step photographs and useful lessons for meeting everyday challenges with your horse in a positive manner that guarantees success.

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COWBOY DRESSAGE (September) by Jessica Black with Eitan and Debbie Beth-Halachmy. Jessica teams up with the founders of Cowboy Dressage to trace the origin of the movement to the present day, then taps Eitan’s expertise to provide readers the basics they need to get started in the pursuit of “kindness as the goal and guiding principle.” Eitan and Debbie describe Cowboy Dressage as a lifestyle rather than a sport, and the book mirrors that mission, inspiring us with beautiful photographs and honest ideals.

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THE ESSENTIAL FERGUS THE HORSE (October) by artist Jean Abernethy. Fergus the Horse is a social media celebrity with well over 300,000 Facebook fans. This treasury of his greatest hits features comics from past print publications as well as those that have made the rounds online—and in addition, 25 never-seen-before cartoons. Jean also shares a little about her rise as an illustrator and the backstory that explains the birth of her famous cartoon horse.

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THE MESSAGE FROM THE HORSE (October) by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. The world knows Klaus from his bestselling books and DVDs, including DANCING WITH HORSES and WHAT HORSES REVEAL. Over 10 years ago, he detailed his own story in the form of an autobiographical narrative, detailing his discovery of how to be with and learn from horses, as well as how to apply what they teach him to his life as a whole. Now this story is in English for the first time.

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BALANCE IN MOVEMENT (Paperback reprint—November) by Susanne von Dietze. A perennial bestseller, demand for the book led to us bringing it out in a fresh format, ready to introduce a new generation of riders to Susanne’s sensible lessons in horse and rider biomechanics.

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RIDING THROUGH THICK AND THIN (November) by Melinda Folse. Melinda’s last book THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES gained her an enthusiastic following of readers who appreciate her big-sisterly swagger and humor. This new book is the culmination of years of research, providing us all guideposts for riding and being with horses, whatever we look like. Melinda’s goal is to give our body image a boost, and she provides countless proactive ways for us to take a good look in the mirror and finally like what we see.

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BASIC TRAINING OF THE YOUNG HORSE (Third Edition—December) by Ingrid and Reiner Klimke. It’s the Klimkes’ classic text, refreshed with new photos of Ingrid on her top horses. Need we say more?

 

For more about these 2015 horse books, and our complete list of top equestrian books and DVDs, visit our website www.horseandriderbooks.com.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs for 30 years, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Jim Masterson indicating the scapula and the withers on a horse painted by Susan Harris, the creator of Anatomy in Motion.

Jim Masterson indicating the scapula and the withers on a horse painted by Susan Harris, the creator of Anatomy in Motion.

 

Have you heard about the Masterson Method yet? This innovative form of bodywork for horses was created by equine massage-bodywork therapist Jim Masterson. In many cases, all it takes is the tiniest of movements on your part to illicit a significant release of tension, stress, and pain in your horse.

Here’s an example: The Withers Wiggle may sound like the newest equine dance craze, but really it’s a gentle Masterson Method Technique that targets largely inaccessible muscles surrounding the thoracic vertebrae beneath the scapula. Release of tension there improves the horse’s suspension, extension, and fluidity of movement in the front end, and comfort and mobility in and behind the withers themselves.

The withers are the ends of the vertical vertebral processes that project up from the fourth through the eighth thoracic vertebrae. Your horse will tell you if there is tension to be released here by his subtle (or not so subtle) responses to this technique.

 

THE WITHERS WIGGLE

Place your fingers on the first knob of the withers.

Place your fingers on the first knob of the withers.

 

1  Place your fingers on the first knob of the withers.

Gently wiggle your fingers from side to side, using almost no pressure at all, searching for a subtle response such as the lips twitching, sighing, or a blink of the eye.

3  If you get a blink, pause, wiggle again, and pause. As long as you are getting responses, continue this a few more times on that spot.

4  Move on to the next knob of the withers and wiggle-wiggle (you won’t actually feel movement and you aren’t pushing or pulling), pause and move on to the next knob of the withers. With your thumb and first finger on either side of the withers, simply “wiggle-wiggle-wiggle” slowly and gently, using your wrist and fingers, not the muscles of your arm.

5  You only have to do the Withers Wiggle from one side of the horse. Continue on down the withers, following the horse’s responses as you go. Bigger releases will be accompanied by bigger release responses, such as shaking, snorting, and repeated yawning.

This Withers Wiggle thing feels good!

This Withers Wiggle thing feels good!

 

Yes, that really is all there is to it! The Withers Wiggle is almost more of an intention than a movement.

 

CLICK TO ORDER

CLICK TO ORDER

For more great techniques that will make your horse feel good while improving his performance, check out THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED WITH THE MASTERSON METHOD, available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE

 

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