Archive for the ‘Coaching Tips’ Category

Another video….

Here’s another video, this time one of mine. I’ll be working this year on getting more short videos produced to share more techniques and tips, so stay tuned!


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Animal Massage Myth #9: “You must have to be really strong to massage a horse!”

This is one of the most frequent comments I hear when I tell someone what I do for a living. The fact is, although being fit is helpful for certain techniques and styles of bodywork (and necessary for some), it’s really not about strength. Even a small child can offer great benefits to the largest of horses with the right techniques, focus and intention. What people generally don’t think about, even in relation to themselves let alone their animals, is that the body has great intelligence and is designed to re-balance itself in any number of ways. This intelligence and ability can very easily (and often does) get off track, stuck or even distorted, but the potential is still there, ready and waiting for the right conditions and reminders to trigger it. Most of what happens during massage and bodywork is happening inside the body, connected to but not actually coming from the hands of the therapist. Sometimes your hands don’t even seem to be doing anything at all, and yet the animal is clearly processing and focusing internally, and getting wonderful relaxation and other benefits.

The fact that your hands are on your animal (or even just nearby in some cases), and also very importantly that your mind is focused on helping and loving your animal, can be all that’s needed to create positive effects. With more training and experience, you can also get much more efficient and deliberate by learning key places to apply pressure, how much pressure to use, and how long to spend. Of course, using good body mechanics to protect your joints and muscles while massaging is also important, but that’s another topic. (More on that in my books and videos, of course!)

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Now that you’ve done the wither rock (see last post), try the wither lift to help your horse open the joint spaces of the back and ribs, relax the back muscles, and engage the belly and shoulder sling muscles. Feel in the girth area for a slightly hollow spot. That’s the end of your horse’s sternum, or breast bone. Scratch/tickle your horse there while looking up at the withers and expecting to see them rise. Some horses will lift more than others. If yours doesn’t lift well yet, it can improve with this exercise and other bodywork. It’s often possible to get noticeable improvements by simply repeating the wither rock, wither lift combination a few times.

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Here’s a fast, simple way to really help your horse’s wither area, which means it will help back, ribs and shoulders, but especially the back and ribs. Rest your hands on top of your horse’s withers, and rock the withers back and forth (right and left for your horse). Start with small movements, and go SLOWLY so your horse can relax into it and not feel like you’re trying to push him over. Repeat 3-10 times or more, as long as your horse is enjoying it. This is a very abbreviated version of technique #9 from my book, The Horse Lover’s Guide to Massage. Follow with a wither lift, which I’ll post next….

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If you haven’t already seen this video through the All About Animal Massage site or newsletter, here’s a link to a video taken from an equine massage class I taught, which shows a technique for helping your horse’s ribs, breath, and back (so therefore everything really :)) It also includes some discussion of the anatomy behind it, which is how I teach all the techniques and anatomy in The Horse Lover’s Guide to Massage: What Your Horse Wants You to Know. That is, I like to teach them in chunks together, so they enhance each other through the connections.

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