It seems like after decades in the horse industry, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about fascia. This is that thin sheath of fibrous tissue that encloses the muscles and other organs, and apparently, it is really pretty important to your horse’s posture, movement, comfort, and performance. Huh. If you’re like us, all these years of riding and horse care and various bodywork therapies, and you haven’t given fascia a thought, right? Well, now is the time to acquire a whole new awareness of your horse’s body and how you can keep it happy and healthy.
We caught up with TSB author Margret Henkels, founder of Conformation Balancing, her method of fascia fitness for horses, and author of the book and DVD IS YOUR HORSE 100%? She brought us up to speed with how easy it can be to positively affect the horse’s fascia…and shared a few of the secrets that keep her going, too!
TSB: Your book and DVD IS YOUR HORSE 100%? were published in 2017. They explain your method of bodywork targeting the horse’s fascia, which anyone can do. Why do you feel fascia fitness is important to horse and rider? How can your method of bodywork help horses with “problems”?
MH: Fascia (sometimes called myofascia), or connective tissue, is an amazing tissue. When it’s healthy, it’s full of light and free movement…when it’s stiff, it’s rigid and painful. Nearly every horse experiences strain. Stuck fascia is a huge problem for a free-moving, master athlete like a horse. These dark stuck areas ruin their free movement and create a fearful mental state. Fascia is the only tissue that also “holds” emotional trauma, due to its unique properties. When a rider “melts” a hard, stiff area on their horse with their hands, this action also releases emotional anxiety related to that limit. This is a miracle for the horse! They become very grateful to us for this relief. Riders win and keep the trust of their horse with this work. Also, the rider understands her horse much better. Limits are now recognized as physical issues, not refusals. It’s an amazing new way to relate to horses and riding.
TSB: You first became interested in fascia and how it can be influenced when you had your own physical compensations and adhesions addressed by a bodyworker. How is fascia work for horses similar to that for humans? How does it differ?
MH: Horses and humans both feel much better with flowing fitness. Humans entertain themselves with distractions and diversions, but horses live in constant fear and anxiety if they aren’t fit. Humans often medicate the discomfort. Horses constantly fear a predator will get them. Humans might feel limited by poor fitness, but horses feel very unsafe and judged against.
TSB: What is one lesson you hope readers will take away from your book and DVD?
MH: Fascia is astonishing in its self-intelligence, and it is easy to effect huge, progressive, balancing advances from difficult, stuck, and unhappy situations.
Margret Henkels demonstrating how to “melt” the fascia at Equine Affaire in MA, 2017.
TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?
MH: An Arabian horse and Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado’s GALLOP TO FREEDOM!
TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?
MH: Jump big fences on a talented jumping horse.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?
Henkels with her dog Pepper.
TSB: What is your greatest fear?
MH: That human consciousness will continue to limit the horse’s happiness.
TSB: What is your greatest extravagance?
MH: Washing my car.
TSB: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
MH: To be younger with all the gains I made in aging.
Margret with her horses Tanga and Kira.
MH: Organic, local carrots and bee pollen.
TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
MH: Being part of a transformative experience.
TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
MH: Harry de Leyer, owner of Snowman.
TSB: What is your motto?
MH: Don’t give up before the miracle happens.
Margret Henkels’ BOOK and DVD are both available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.