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DIY-SPA-DAY-horseandriderbooks

Ah, Valentine’s Day! That Hallmark Holiday we all love to hate and hate to love. But we don’t have to sit around longing for some demonstration of adoration to appear in our mailbox or on our doorstep. Instead, why not treat that best of all faithful and true companions, your horse, to a DIY Spa Day.

Give His Fascia Some Love

Ear Release Photo by Patti Bose-horseandriderbooksUmm…what was that? Don’t worry, as equine bodyworker Margret Henkels explains in her book IS YOUR HORSE 100%? the fascia (or myofascia) is tissue in the body that connects all the horse’s body’s parts, including bones, muscles, and all the different body systems. As the “internet” of the body, fascia communicates with all parts instantly, while also giving the horse structure and organization. But this remarkable tissue changes under strain and accidental injury. It immediately builds many cross-hatching fibers in all directions around the area of strain, as well as faraway areas that help hide the strain for the horse. At first, these areas are warmer and larger as the fascia adds support. Eventually, they return to a more normal size and temperature, but the composition of the fascia changes. Over time, instead of flowing easily, it hardens into stiff fibers and lumps called “adhesions.” Strategic placement of your hands brings precisely the correct heat for fascia changes—that is, “melting” of adhesions and release of related emotional baggage. Henkels’ Conformation Balancing method, explained in her book and DVD, give us this easy technique to make our horses happy:

The ears are a “miracle area” for helping horses. Many have experienced trauma around the base of the ear as well as the entire ear, up to the tip. This can be caused by tight-fitting tack, or head strain. A gentle and effective technique is to hold the ear very softly. Once the horse understands you aren’t squeezing or grabbing at his ear, he relaxes and enjoys the changes. As your thumb sinks into the base of the ear, head changes occur. These releases often last many minutes and bring great relief from anxiety. One ear usually needs much more attention than the other. When you offer these often, the emotional progress for the horse is rapid.

 

Get Down…and Back

Hind End Release Photo by Deb Kalas-horseandriderbooksPositioning and movement of the hind limbs down and back can release tension in the muscles and structure of the hind end, including the hamstrings, the lower back, the gluteal muscles and the psoas. This can improve movements that require adduction and abduction of the hind limbs (think half-pass). Jim Masterson’s Masterson Method® Hind Leg Releases in THE DRESSAGE HORSE OPTIMIZED include this easy exercise:

Pick up the hind foot as if you are going to clean it. While supporting the fetlock with your hands, guide the hoof down and back so it rests on the toe. A couple inches farther back than the opposite planted hind foot is plenty. Keep your hand gently on the hoof, or slightly wiggling the hock, to help the horse relax. With the toe resting back, the hamstrings are fully relaxed. Gently stroke or lightly massage the area to further break up any tension.

 

The Eyes Have It

Acupressure for Horses-horseandriderbooksThere are many points around the horse’s eyes that can be accessed with acupressure. And, as Dr. Ina Gösmeier explains in her bestselling ACUPRESSURE FOR HORSES, acupressure is simple and safe for any of us to apply. All the meridians and organs meet in connection in and around the eye, so through acupressure there, disturbances in other parts of the body can be influenced and rebalanced. This technique also relaxes the horse greatly.

First, touch the Jingming acupressure point (at the corner of the eye) lightly, then slowly increase the pressure, using a clockwise, circular motion. Watch the horse’s reaction. When you see the corners of the mouth relax, the ears go sideways, the eyes begin to close, you know you are applying an optimal amount of pressure. Maintain pressure for one minute. Work you way all the way around the eye, working back to your starting point.

 

Tail Envy

WCG Grooming for Horses Photo by Jessica Dailey-horseandriderbooksGive your horse’s tail a proper wash and conditioning so he can parade his silky swisher around the barn. Professional grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford give us their tips for primping your horse’s hind end in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.

Wet the tail, then use a gentle conditioning shampoo like Motions® Lavish Conditioning Shampoo to ensure the tail gets clean without becoming dry. Use a sponge to get the entire dock wet, paying special attention to the bottom of the dock where the hair gets really thick and oil can collect. Scrub the dock really well, getting your fingernails into it, to help remove the dead skin and gunk that can build up close to the roots. Run your sponge down the entire tail, then scrub the hair between your hands. Rinse the tail until the water runs clear. NEVER comb a wet tail! Use a non-silicone-based detangler such as eZall® Shine & Detangler and comb when dry.

 

Have a wonderful, relaxing, DIY Spa Day with your horse…and don’t forget his favorite treats for afterward! Here’s a recipe if you want to make your own: TSB’s Fun, Easy Valentine’s Day Horse Treats.

For more information about any of the books or experts mentioned, visit www.horseandriderbooks.com.

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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Is there a "wild thing" loose in your barn? Get these great tips for "taming manes" and more in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.

Is there a “wild thing” loose in your barn? Get these great tips for “taming manes” and more in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES.

 

AH, SPRING! The warmth of the sun tickled just right by a crisp breeze…the grass growing braver by the day, emerging little by little…the birds chirping their hourly status report with pre-nesting gusto…and ALL THAT HAIR coming off your horse…and onto you…and into your mouth…and…

UGH. SPRING.

As much as we northern horse folk love what it heralds, spring’s not the prettiest time of year for horse OR rider. Between the acres of dirt we’ve let accumulate under “Simba’s” coat (for insulation) and the wilderness that once was a bridlepath, we have weeks ahead spent shedding blade in hand while avoiding all clothing made of fleece and its near relations (aka horsehair magnets).

When we grow most desperate, we just need to remember: the rewards are many when our horses finally reflect the hours of love, labor, and supplements we’ve been throwing their way…usually around June.

Just in time for spring cleanup, pro grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford bring us WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, a truly unparalleled guide to top equine turnout, with over 1200 professional color photographs by Jessica Dailey (www.jesslynn.photography). WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

Here’s what Cat and Emma have to say about training unruly manes:

 

Whenever you groom your horse, the mane should be combed or brushed out to keep it free of tangles. After bathing, always comb down the wet mane to encourage it to stay on the same side. For the most part, a mane is “trained” to the right side of the horse; however, breeds with manes naturally to the left—Friesians, Andalusians, Lusitanos, Morgans, and Arabians, as well as any dressage horse—are allowed to leave the manes where they are.

 

“Training” the Mane

There are a couple of ways to train a mane to stay on the right side of the neck and to lie flat. In the long run you may never fix issues like manes that stand up or lie on two sides of the neck, but getting it to lie down correctly for a couple of days will allow you to pull, thin, or trim it evenly.

 

Banding

1 Wet the mane and comb smoothly on the right side of the neck.

2 Section off a 2- to 4-inch piece of mane and wrap a braiding band around it until it is snug.

3 Repeat this all the way down the neck.

 

Braiding Down

Depending on how “wild” the mane is, you might need to braid it down.

1 Wet the mane and comb it smoothly on the right side of the neck.

2 Section off a 2- to 4-inch piece of mane and start a loose braid.

3 Make sure you do not pull the side pieces in tightly since this can cause irritation, as well as damage the mane.

4 Braid only 3 or 4 “crosses,” then rubber band the end.

5 Leave these braids in for as long as the horse is comfortable; when he starts to rub his neck, they need to be taken out. Be aware that some horses will take offense and start to rub them out immediately, so always be on the lookout for this!

 

Check out this short video trailer about WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES:

 

 

To order your copy, CLICK HERE NOW.

WCGAvailable

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

 

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