"So this is like massage, right?"
This work is like massage in that it is bodywork and there is a physical touch and connection.
It is not like massage in that overall there is very little pressure used.
The beauty and brilliance of this form of bodywork ... less is more!
Simply through the lightest of touch there is an awareness brought to the areas of the body that hold tension, we get in under the radar of the sympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system is what keeps the horse, a prey animal, vigilant and always on the edge of going into "fight or flight" mode. Sometimes, if the sympathetic nervous system is in action, a horse will even brace against massage. This bracing prevents the very releasing we are trying to achieve.
Through light touch at the proper place and time, however, there is a connection made with the horse's parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that takes over when the horse feels safe. It is called the "rest and digest" system and is what allows the horse to do the releasing we are seeking.
If you have more questions about the Masterson Method and would like to see Jim Masterson in action making it all look very, very easy ... you can go here.
"What should I do with my horse after a session?"
The best thing to do after your horse's session is to allow them turnout. Their body has just undergone some deep internal releases, shifts and changes. It is important that they be allowed some undemanding time to allow their body and mind to adjust to these changes. If you've ever had bodywork and had to drive after your session, you know how disruptive that can be to the relaxation you have just experienced. And, because movement is medicine, allowing them to get adjusted to the changes through movement is more beneficial than allowing them to just stand in their stall (though they may argue otherwise if there is food to be had in their stall and not in their turnout area).
If you are unable to offer them turnout, the next best thing is to handwalk them for @ 20 minutes, followed by quiet time, preferably munching on the good quality forage you offer them.
"Can I ride after a session?"
You can ride after a session, but it is not advisable (unless you are at a competition see below). Ideally your horse will be allowed a day or two to graze, munch on hay and continue to adjust to the releases and internal shifts that have occured. Your next ride should be soft, easy and on a loose rein allowing you, too, the opportunity to feel the difference in the way your horse moves! Because they often feel so free and easy it is very tempting to ask a lot of them because now they CAN do so much more of what you ask. Please resist this temptation! Take the time to get to know how your horse moves with released restriction, and ease back into the work you are asking him/her to do.
"What about doing sessions at or just before a show or competition?"
Yes, we can collaborate and do bodywork sessions before competitive events; however, this is only for existing clients. Until we know how your horse will respond to bodywork, it could change your horse's way of going and possibly take off that competitive edge you have trained so hard to achieve. Again, your horse may need to re-learn how to maintain supple strength and dynamic tension vs. restrictive tension and habitual compensations. We want to give both of you the opportunity to be your best team selves, learning hos to utilize this flowing movement.
"How often does my horse need bodywork?"
There are so many variables, such as age, training, "job," schedule, competitions, etc., that it truly does depend on the horse. We can create a customized bodywork schedule based on your horse's current level of work and/or "stuck places" after our initial session.
"How long does a session take?"
All bodywork sessions are dependent on the horse's response to the work. The initial session can take between 2.5 - 3 hours. Follow-up sessions generally take approximately 2 hours, and sessions that are focusing on areas of concern at/prior to competition are dependent on the horse and the situation at hand.
"Should I call the chiropractor?"
Chiropractors specifically work to mobilize vertebral segments, specifically focusing on improving movement between bones and joints. However, it is important to consider why these bones and joints are functioning abnormally to begin with. Typically it is soft tissue strain and tension that has affected the movement of the bones and/or joints to create these dysfunctions. Chiropractors typically mobilize these segments by using high velocity thrust. It is a forceful technique.
When an owner realizes there is some stiffness in their horse, or somehow they are just "off," this is the first modality horse owners think of and the first question they ask. I hear this question a lot.
It is my thinking that this question comes up so frequently because chiropractors were the pioneers. It has taken many years for chirpractic adjustment to become THE most widely accepted form of alternative therapies for horses. In the not too distant past chiropractic in general, whether for horse or human, was thought to be quackery. Now, many people have seen this alternative treatment work miracles for their horses. However, there are also horror stories about horses being crippled, or worse, from bad chiropractic care. I believe there is a time for chiropractic care. As with all caregivers it is wise to consider the credentials of the chiropractor you are considering and your goals with your horse.
If you are wanting a "quick fix" chiropractic care can sometimes offer this, helping to alleviate the pain that can come with misalignment of joints and/or vertabrae.
Sometimes if we have gotten lots of deep soft tissue releases and some suppling and strengthening through proper training techniques, but the joints still won't move, chiropractic care can be the next step. In these cases, it is my opinion that a well-trained, knowledgeable and gentle chiropracticor can help to get the horse over that hump, keeping in mind that no form of bodywork is an alternative to veterinary care and a proper understanding of the primary issues effecting your horse.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
An Important Note:
Equine bodywork is not an alternative to veterinary care and does not diagnose conditions or treat injuries. If in doubt of the health of your horse, you should contact your veterinarian.
Beckie is delighted to collaborate and to work with you, your vet and your team of caregivers. In this way they can work together to provide care & maintain your horse's overall wellbeing