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Back on Track

December 19, 2017

Equine Therapies Ireland & Back on Track

Working Together

Hi Folks, Niamh here from Equine Therapies Ireland, offering your horse an intuitive approach to equine healing. This week I am proud to announce Equine Therapies Ireland’s recent affiliation with Back on Track. Back on Track are a Swedish brand of therapeutic products. These products are designed to give the patient  support and pain relief for both acute and chronic symptoms.

Back on Track Formula:

These products offer a unique formula. This formula allows the wearer to use the products 24 hours a day if they need to. This is possible because of the innovative Welltex particles that are interwoven into the products fibres. This ceramic based fibre acts reflectively on the skin and returns the body’s own infrared heat back to provide comfort and healing. Every living being emits long wave infrared heat from their body. This infrared heat has a scientifically proven therapeutic healing effect and because it is the body’s own emission it is safe to wear the products for as long as the patient seeks to.

Products Available For – Horses, Humans and Dogs

I first learned about Back on Track when I was training in the United States in 2014, I feel these products will offer clients great relief here especially because of our damp Irish climate. Damp is notoriously bad for the body and exacerbates any joint pain that horses feel. The great thing about Back on Track is that they have a range of products for horses, dogs and even humans, so I can offer pain relief to the horse rider as well as their pet dog; as most horsey people love dogs too!

Product Reviews Coming Soon:

I have ordered products for myself and my horse Dan. I will subsequently be able to write reviews over the coming weeks. This summer Dan received steroid injections into both hock joints for chronic arthritis. The steroids helped hugely, both in his straightness and his joint flexion. Steroids act as a super anti-inflammatory in the body but like everything they don’t last forever. Horses average repeat injections at least every year to eighteen months. I hope that by using the Back on Track Hock boots we won’t have to inject again for awhile.  I also suffer from Reynaud’s in my hands and feet. Because of this I have ordered Back on Track gloves and socks. My hopes is to improve overall circulation. Stay tuned for updates on all these products.  

Interested to learn more about these products you can contact me on the following number or email address. 

+353 86 021 1923 – equinetherapiesireland@gmail.com

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Washing Horse’s Teeth!

July 30, 2017

So washing teeth, a very important daily task for people and something most of us do at least twice a day. Until recently I never knew how easy or important it was to give our horses the same consideration. My horse Dan is twelve now and gets two visits a year from the equine dentist. His teeth grow pretty quickly and he crib bites which adds to his issues, but I’ll talk about that another day. At twelve years of age Dan is much more susceptible to periodontal disease or any of the signs; gingivitis, gum inflammation, tarter build up, plaque, impaction and decay. Outside his biannual dentist visits, I didn’t really know how else I could I care for his teeth, until recently that is.  

As most of you know, the reason we need regular dental care for our horses is because their teeth are really long, with about four inches hidden in the bones of the jaw. As the horse grinds its food for digestion they wear away their teeth. In response, the gum erupts more tooth into the mouth to take its place. Most horses are asymmetrical in their body and /or have an asymmetrical rider! This means that their teeth seldom wear evenly and the horse is often left with sharp, painful edges. Unbalanced teeth and subsequent sharp edges can cause our horses a lot of pain, discomfort and create or exasperate other imbalances already in the body.

So outside of regular dental care, how can we, the owner, help keep our horse’s teeth healthier for longer. I was at a CPD clinic earlier this year that focused on saddle, bridal and teeth. An equine dentist was on site to give us a lecture and she informed us that regular hosing of our horse’s mouth is similar to us brushing our teeth! How simple and fantastic I thought! So now I hose Dan’s mouth every couple of days. It’s really interesting to observe the colour of the water and the bits of food that pour out. Dan is only out on grass at night time, yet whenever I hose his mouth, loads of grass type debris pours out!

I found this tip of great interest and I thought you guys would find it interesting and beneficial too. Oh check out my little clip of Dan getting his mouth hosed. Please excuse the horse riding helmet hair!

Happy horse riding and mouth hosing..Niamh

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More about Niamh Fitzpatrick & Equine Therapies Ireland

October 12, 2016

Niamh Fitzpatrick started her journey with horses at a young age at a local riding school. Her 20s saw her take a break from horses as she spent time travelling and carving out a career in Financial Services. In 2010 Niamh Fitzpatrick got the opportunity to visit a dude ranch in Tucson, Arizona, she came home determined to immerse herself back in the horse world. Very soon after her return she bought herself a beautiful ex-racehorse, Dynamo Dan. Niamh Fitzpatrick believes that Dan played an integral role in her future. Full of enthusiasm she set about working with and schooling Dan. Her goal was to take up riding club eventing but Dan had other ideas.

She met with a variety of issues over a prolonged period and despaired. Niamh couldn’t understand how her horse, who was quite a pleasure on the ground, could turn into such a difficult animal under saddle. She tried different trainers, gadgets, feed and shoes; in addition to a handful of bodywork sessions but was losing all hope. Dan bucked, spooked, shied, refused to go forward and eventually started rearing. Looking back she can easily see Dan was doing his best to communicate with her but at the time she lacked the skill and sensitivity to tune in.

Following a change in circumstances in 2012 Niamh was inspired by her love of horses and decided to invest in a significant career change.

She started training to become a Masterson Method Practitioner in late 2012. During her training she realised that her own sensitivities would require some fine tuning and so began her personal development journey.

She embraced all that colleagues, mentors and most importantly the horse could teach her. She travelled to the UK and the USA to hone her skills and met some amazing people and horses in the meantime. Additionally she studied Equine Biomechanics, Gait Analysis and Lameness at Whittle College (UK,) under Barbara Crabbe DMV, MS, to broaden her knowledge and get a better understanding of the difficulties faced by the veterinary industry while attempting to diagnose equine conditions.

Dr. Crabbe is a contributing editor to Horse and Rider magazine and a frequent contributor and member of the advisory board for Dressage Today magazine. Her articles have won numerous American Horse Publications awards, and in 2007 she saw her book Comprehensive Guide to Equine Veterinary Medicine published by Sterling publishing, a large New York publishing company.

http://www.pacificcrestsporthorse.com/doctors.html

Horse’s being prey and herd animals do their best to mask pain until it is practically impossible for them to do so. This trait makes the veterinarians and body workers job a lot more difficult. Niamh did some research to see what she could do to help provide future clients with affordable solutions in these types of situations. It was here that she became aware of infrared and its huge capabilities in the equine / veterinarian field.

While Niamh was in the States she trained to became a Level One Thermographer and subsequently an Equine Thermographer. It was here that she affiliated with United Infrared, Inc, which gave her access to Infrared qualified veterinarians to provide interpretations of her infrared reports.

Back in Ireland Niamh was fortunate to spend some time observing local equine veterinarians at work to gain a practical understanding and appreciation for the work they do. She is a firm believer that all experts in the equine industry should work together harmoniously for the well being of the horse and will endeavour to do so within her practice.

Following Niamh’s Masterson Method Certification, in June 2014, she attended a Myofascial Release Training event in Geneva with Ruth Mitchell-Golladay. MFR therapy was another skill that Niamh was keen to add to her tool box.

Jim Masterson already utilised some MFR techniques in his integrated therapies so it made sense for Niamh to acquire the full training.

In late 2014 Niamh decided to embark upon further training, in an even more subtle form of healing facilitation, so she began attending Quantum Coherence Therapy training with Stuart Breen of the Irish Tai Chi Chuan Association. Niamh has worked with some extremely sensitive horses where a mere presence can feel too invasive to them, this among other things is what led her to pursue training in one of the most subtle forms of healing.

With Niamh’s considerable change in career paths it was necessary for her to spend significant time and energy developing her own sensitivities. She knew this was essential in order for her to be the best that she could be to facilitate healing for any animals or humans that came into her life. In order to develop and maintain these sensitivities Niamh embarked on a journey of personal development and now practices daily and consistent self care, comprised of Tai Chi Chuan, meditation, regular holistic treatment sessions with either Stuart Breen or Chris McMahon, among other things.

Over the past few years Niamh has considerably changed both her life and her attitude to life. She is happier than ever and being located in the heart of horse country, Co. Kildare Ireland, she hopes that she can bring much relief to both horses and owners in the area. Although Niamh believes there are many horses in her local area she is willing to travel as appropriate.

TO DATE NIAMH HAS GAINED THE FOLLOWING QUALIFICATIONS, CERTIFICATIONS & AFFILIATIONS
BA Hon Business Degree – Dublin Business School http://www.dbs.ie/
Certified Practitioner of the Masterson Method™ – MMCP https://www.mastersonmethod.com/
Equine Myofascial Release Training https://www.myofascialrelease.com/
Equinenergy – Equine Biomechanics, Lameness, and Gait Abnormalities http://equinenergy.com/courses/course-details/eq300600e/
Certified Equine Thermographer (EquineIR™) – CET http://www.unitedinfrared.com/
Certified Level I Infrared Thermographer (ITC) – CIT http://www.infraredtraining.com/
Member EquineIR™, an International Network of Certified Thermographers http://equineir.com/
Fetac Level 6 – Train the Trainer http://www.paramounthr.ie/
Quantum Coherence Therapy (QCT) – Practitioner http://www.quantumcoherencetherapy.com/
Indian Head Massage Therapist – For Human Clients http://neil.forrester.ie/solascollege/
CPD – Equine Therapists Guide to Checking Saddle Fit http://www.perfectmovementsolutions.co.uk/
CPD – US Equine Chiropractor Daniel Kamen’s Manipulation & Mobilisation Techniques http://www.perfectmovementsolutions.co.uk/
CPD – Certificate K-Active Taping – Special Course Taping for Horses https://www.k-active.com/en/
CPD – Whole Horse Dissection by Sharon May-Davis http://http://wholehorsehealth.org/
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Tension, Restriction and Release

February 17, 2016

Tension, Restriction and Release: 

Three terms I picked up from Jim Masterson during my Masterson Method Practitioner training. Three terms that mean a whole lot to me and that I use on a daily basis in the context of the work I do. However I believe there may be times when these terms don’t always convey as much clarity to the owner, also known as, the one who pays the bills. So I decided to take some time out to try and build more transparency around these terms and what they mean during a bodywork session.

So what do we mean when we use these three words separately and together and after that what do they actually mean for your horse! Why should you as an owner care about Tension, Restriction and Release as it relates to your horse?

Let’s start by breaking these words down to their primary meaning while firstly excluding the equine element.

Tension – “the state of being stretched tight”

Restriction – “a limiting condition or state”

Releasing – “allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely”

 

1) So firstly lets take a look at “Tension in the body.

When I use this word in reference to the horse I am treating, I refer to “Tension within the muscles and soft tissues around the joints.

Human Knee Joint

Joint

 

 

 

 

The soft tissues I refer to are the tendons and ligaments, the muscles and the fascia. Most of you are probably fully aware but for those who are not, fascia is a connective web of tissue and fluid that surrounds and interconnects all organs, muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels.

(I’ve inserted a really cool and visual clip on fascia and its behaviour in the body but more on that in a for another day)

 

Ligaments; fibrous bands of tough connective tissue that are tasked with attaching bone to bone and are the core binding material which connect bones at their joints, AND, of course the Tendons who have the role of attaching muscles to the very bone they are charged with moving.

The structural muscles are those which allow the body to create movement and motion. Gillian Higgins estimates the horse has over 700 structural muscles in their body. Each muscle has two tendons attaching to another bone, or in many cases fascia. The tendon at the point of origin is the anchoring point and is closest to the trunk. The origin is therefore attached to the bone that doesn’t do the moving bit! The insertion point is the connection to the bone that does do the moving once the muscle is activated.

When the middle part of the muscle, called the belly, contracts, it brings the origin and the insertion tendons closer together therefore creating movement. The belly of the muscle is comprised of hundreds of tiny muscle cells or myofibrils, each of which has its own blood (oxygen) and energy supply called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the energy provider to all the cells in the body.

So if we think about it, when energy aka ATP runs out, yet we continue to ask the horse to work on through, this will obviously create excess stress and subsequent dysfunction.

When a muscle is working as it was designed to it contracts then immediately relaxes or releases. Muscle Tension occurs when the muscle is overworked and therefore cannot release as it should.

When a muscle becomes chronically tense the muscle fibres lie closer together which results in constricted or reduced blood flow within the belly of the muscle. At this point the muscle is not functioning correctly in the way that it was designed to.

It is important to know also that injury or trauma will activate the body’s healing response where Tension is stimulated close to the injury site to protect the joint from further damage. If the initial trauma goes unnoticed and untreated, with the horse being given little or no time to recover, they will begin to conscript other muscles to help with the workload to elevate the pain. When this insidious response takes place, the muscle that should have been doing the work is no longer active so has reduced nerve activity, blood flow and oxygen.

Of course when any of the above occurs, horses being horses will try to get on as best they can so they recruit different muscles and even tendons to do the work and this then activates the horse’s compensation response.

We all know what compensation is, all you have to do is take stock when walking down the street at the amount of people struggling by with a limb discrepancy, or shuffling along with a sore shoulder or painful neck.

However what you do not see is an athlete running on the track or pitch with a similar visual disability, so why do our horses, who become athletes as soon as a human climbs on board, get the raw end of the deal?

Because they are so so much better at compensating than we are!

Firstly they have four limbs with which to offload onto, secondly they are PREY animals. This means that their brain is hardwired for survival and as such they do not willingly demonstrate pain, as this would only make them a weak and vulnerable member of the herd. In response to this essential need to feign wellness, horses are much better as shifting their weight around and unless we start looking out for it we won’t see what their body is telling us.

Pain to animals is just a normal part of life…..

It is when that pain becomes too much for them to compensate anymore that’s when we start to experience the “behavioural problems”. Which could easily come years after the initial and minor issue.

So getting back to Tension, Restriction and Releasing, we now know that Tension develops within the soft tissues of the body due to overwork, additionally horses can have minor injuries in the field that go unnoticed or some other form of trauma, say a bad saddle fit or unbalanced shoeing, that creates Tension in the soft tissue. We also know that horses will do their best to compensate and therefore mask underlying issues.

 

2) Restriction – “a limiting condition or state”.

So how does Restriction come about and how is it different to Tension.

When I use the term “Restriction”, when working with a horse, I am talking about Restriction in the range of movement (ROM),  around the joints.

So Tension is the acute and current pain or active response in the body. 

Restriction on the other hand is what comes after the Tension, when the muscles lose their elasticity due to diminished nerve innervations. As noted earlier, fibres within a chronically tense muscle will lie closer together which results in restricted blood flow. With diminished blood flow, nerve innervations and shortened contracted fibres,  subsequent Restriction in the ROM around the horse’s joint is guaranteed.

Therefore the horse’s ability to move coherently will be reduced and they will genuinely struggle to do as they are asked because they genuinely do not have the flexibility to do so.

Horses are, in my experience, extremely agreeable and polite animals. Yes they can be difficult and frustrating to us as humans but that, I believe and in simplistic terms, comes primarily down to a breakdown in communication and / or a lack of musculoskeletal ability.

So in my work as an equine physical therapist / body worker I initially palpate your horse for pain / Tension and denote on my evaluation sheet.

It is during the treatment that I become aware of the soft tissue restrictions around the joints. How is that? If I ask a horse to move a joint through a range of movement in a relaxed state and they are unwilling to do so, I take it that they are uncomfortable and therefore unable to do so. Horses do not lie so I accept what their body is telling me in that moment  as their current truth and during the treatment we work together to release soft tissue adhesions to create a new truth.

So why does this not show up during palpation you might wonder, because usually a site of Restriction will no longer elicit a pain reaction upon palpation. These areas, because of their Restriction, will have reduced nerve innervations and subsequent pain reactions.

Because these restricted joint areas are not performing movement as they are supposed to, the requirement for activity within the neurotransmitters and receptors decrease and as a consequence fluency of movement is lost.

As the old saying goes, “USE IT OR LOSE IT”, this applies for muscles too.

“The brain needs three things for survival: oxygen, glucose, and frequency of firing. If at a cellular level the muscles aren’t moving that means the nerves aren’t firing therefore cells are not receiving the nourishment they need to stay alive. Going further, if the damaged area doesn’t need to be moving properly, than the part of the brain that controls that region may go on vacation as well!”

Recognising Horse IN Pain

Excerpt from the book,

“Recognizing the Horse in Pain”,

by Joanna Dobson, DVM.

So during treatment we become aware of the restricted soft tissues and also denote these onto the evaluation sheet.

As we continue to become aware of how the horse is feeling we start to develop a picture of how these Tensions and Restrictions reduce your horse’s ability to perform.

 

So finally onto the good stuff 🙂

3) Releasing – “allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely”.

 

So if you’ve ever had me out to work with your horse you will most definitely have had me refer to your horse releasing, oh at least once.  So what does this actually mean and what is the horse actually releasing!

Taking what we’ve learnt from above, a horse who is demonstrating Tension and or Restriction will have reduced action and ROM and therefore will not be moving to the best of their sound state ability.

Ill Horse

So your horse is experiencing prolonged muscle contractions and / or old injuries where there are diminished nerve innervations.

Cellular dysfunction on this level, as we know, results in reduced blood flow through the capillaries in the damaged tissues. Where there is reduced blood flow there are reduced nutrients and also waste removal.

A release during a treatment comes following a facilitation technique and is a combination of unrestricted flow of blood, energy,  oxygen, nutrients and waste removal through the affected area. Clearing out the damaged cells and bringing life to the injury site.

Where there is a facilitated release of pain, tension and restriction around the joints in the horse’s body we allow the body to move into a less toxic, healthier and more balanced state of wellness.

 

When healing transacts in the horse the release of tension accumulation is oftentimes a physical response. This comes in the form of licking and chewing, deep cellular processing, snorting and sneezing, shaking the head and body, gurgling of the intestines, yawning, rolling back the second eyelid, shifting of weight and stretching and flexing to test increased ROM.

Equine Therapies Ireland combines both physical and energetic therapeutic techniques which can facilitate a profound healing response in the body.

As many of you will already know, and have experienced, in addition to the work I do with your horse on a physical level I also utilize an energetic protocol called Quantum Coherence Therapy to facilitate healing of the organs and other energetic systems in the body. But regardless of the techniques I’m using the responses from the horse are consistent.

I hope I’ve been able to provide some clarity now around these terms and when I use them in reference to the horse. If you would like to learn more about what I can do and how I apply these techniques to facilitate these deep releases in your horses system why not check out my webpage www.equinetherapiesireland.ie

or you could always have me come and do a demonstration at your horses yard to see and learn more about the above in person – click on the link Masterson Method Bodywork Demonstration

 

 

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No hoof..no horse..no herd…?

September 14, 2015

No hoof, no horse, we’ve all heard this before but no herd?

Day five of the Dan’s hoof poultice regime; I arrived at the yard that morning as usual and headed for the field. To my relief I straight off saw that Dan had some weight on his near fore and more importantly was standing with the herd! Poor Dan had been ostracised from the herd about five days previously.

Why?

Because he had picked up an infection in his hoof which turned nasty and travelled up into his lower leg, basically turning him into a liability. Now bearing in mind Dan’s herd consists of a Connemara gelding with navicular, and a 20+ y/o mare struggling about with stringhalt, not exactly up for battle should a predator come looking for them.

This is me, Dan and his old herd.

1655858_773343592724667_5710477744780106421_n

I headed into the field feeling a lot chirpier than I had been over the past week but still can’t say I enjoyed the run-around I got from my Horse on trollypreviously dog-lame TB, who even yesterday couldn’t put weight on the aforementioned leg. Now I was struggling to catch a sprightly 9 y/o who looked to be feeling on top of the world, even though still clearly demonstrating a gait discrepancy.

 

What this scenario highlights to me is the effort our horses will go to, to conceal an injury, mask the pain and just get on with life as best they can.

Why do horses do this; despite our best efforts to domesticate the horse we can’t change how Mother Nature designed them. Dan, once the proud herd leader, had become a liability and although animal predators don’t really exist for the domestic horse these days, their instinct to flee remains intact. So Dan’s priority was to regain position in the herd, for group safety, and also to display agility to discourage any hungry predators.

The horse is considered the 11th fastest animal on land so we can appreciate why a healthy horse could put a lot of predators off the chase.

This predator alert response, known in lay terms as the fight or flight response, is initially activated through the amygdala in the horse’s frontal lobe. This then triggers a response in the hypothalamus and results in the release of adrenalin. The hypothalamus, situated in the base of the forebrain and connected to the pituitary gland, is itself an endocrine gland (hormone releasing gland) and is the main link between the endocrine and the nervous system. It makes sense of and then directs signals from the five senses and the internal organs. Mini memos are then issued to either the nervous or endocrine system to dictate the body’s response. That’s the short version but if you’re interested you can read more about it here.

http://www.fairhorsemanship.com/articles-horse-science/the-physiology-of-the-fight-flight-instinct/ ; http://www.equestrianlife.com.au/articles/Fight-Flight-or-Freeze_.

So what happens if we have a situation where our horse isn’t motivated enough to fight and isn’t able to flee. When does this even happen you may ask yourself?? 

Well I’ll give you an example that’s all too familiar to me! Imagine you have two horses in an arena suffering with chronic low level caudal heel pain with secondary compensatory tension and restriction in the body. The first horse is a young hot-blooded TB and the second a middle aged “reliable, bombproof” colder blooded pony. The first horse is super sensitive, full of his own self and is determined to demonstrate that he is in pain and proceeds to buck his way around the arena when the pressure of the requests are increased. This is the fight and flight response in action.

Not to anthropomorphise the horse but when I think of this situation I visualise a beautiful and proud animal determined to be heard.

On the other hand we think of the colder blooded, less sensitive older horse, but one who regardless still feels pain. Maybe they used to fight or attempt to flee but have since resigned themselves to not being heard so instead brace their mind and body and block out the stimulus until the ordeal is over; not exactly the golden road to “partnership” most people are hoping for with their horses.

It was only during my Masterson Method Practitioner training that I started to realise the extent that horses do this, this being to brace against pain and unpleasantness. Jim Masterson used to say that it is the horse’s natural instinct to move or flee but when we take away this option, simply by putting on a head collar and tying the horse up, instead we activate the “brace response”.

An example I regularly use to explain this to my clients owners is to put ourselves into the therapist chair. Unless you’ve opted for a non-invasive therapy, examples of these, among others, would be energy work, MFR etc, anyways if you opt for the more hands on therapy at some point you are going to want to brace your system in anticipation of pain but you know that this is good for you so you instruct your muscles to stay relaxed. How I ask do we convince a 1000lb animal not to brace their system??

The Masterson Method describes itself as, an Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork. Integrated in that it combines techniques from different modalities, unique in that it fundamentally follows the horse’s responses to help them release pain and tension; nicely demonstrated by some of my clients below.

1

3This is done by activating the four key junctions, (the poll / atlas, the shoulder / wither junction, the hind end and the horses back), in a relaxed state, consequently increasing range of movement and releasing any tension the body is holding.

The key phrase here is Range of Movements in a Relaxed State; by working with the horse to stay under their brace response, what we now know to be the body’s response to stimulus it cannot escape from, we can help the horse release long held tension and restrictions.

 

What’s so exciting about this is that by doing this regularly we can not only improve our horse’s performance but also their longevity. I say longevity because if we think back to Dan on day five of his hoof poultice regime, he is still some way from being 100% but as a horse he does his best to conceal his pain, as is natural and instinctive to him as a prey and herd animal.

Fortunately for Dan I am not only aware that he is not yet 100% and as a result he won’t be back in work until he is properly sound, but also that with compensation his offside will be overworked, unbalanced, tight and tender. A lot of the time the injury has long since passed but the knock on changes in the body are overlooked and with no treatment being provided only become tighter and more restricted. This not only impacts performance but also contributes to the slow demise of the internal structures.

If you would like to learn more about me, my training and what I can do to help your horse, please come follow me on FB & Twitter. https://www.facebook.com/equinetherapiesireland  https://twitter.com/etiwellness. Alternatively you can read up more about the Masterson Method @ https://www.mastersonmethod.com/about-the-masterson-method-and-jim-masterson.html

 

 

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Energy & Horses

July 26, 2015

“When you think energy, what does it mean to you? If you could use just one word to describe it, what would that word be? Communication, that’s what it means to me, especially after this morning!

Horses

Maybe that seems odd but when I was filling a bucket in the yard today I sharply looked over at two of the horses standing in an open shed, they didn’t miss a beat but perked right up, pricked their ears and looked straight at me. Now these two horses were about six meters away from me and had been resting droopily. I hadn’t made a sound just sharply shifted my vision towards them. I was excited but not wholly convinced so I gave it a minute or two till they relaxed and then did it again! Same response, if a little less rapid.”

It’s interesting…I started writing this blog entry in 2014 but just never got around to finishing it. It’s interesting because since then I have finished a year’s training in energy healing, Quantum Coherence Therapy (QCT) to be more specific. When I read over that word, “Communication”, I had to do a rethink, I definitely believe that energy acts as a form of communication however I now believe that it is much more than just that too.

 

We have a learning point or saying in QCT and Tai Chi, “chi follows intention”. Chi in this instance stands for energy or, “the energetic medium existing between matter and spirit” – the “life-force” energy when pertaining to the physical body. 

Energy

Therefore where you send your mind you send your energy.

 

I consider myself to be a pretty rational, logical thinker and this made sense to me. It’s also consistent with other books, theories and ideas I have come across; for example, “Being Happy” by Andrew Matthews. This talks about patterns, self-image and the subconscious mind. Matthews talks about how we bring into reality our own perspective and expectations. The “Law of Attraction” conveys the individual’s ability to attract more of what they want and less of what they don’t want. The “Field” by Lynne McTaggart provides a collection of scientific evidence of quantum experiments taking place over the past 70 years in an attempt to convince the reader that there is more to their abilities, through their connection to universal energy, than meets the eye. Think about it, any self help book promotes and advocates the power of positive thought. So if chi (energy) follows intention (thoughts) and if we practice positive thoughts, will we then draw towards us a positive universal response? I believe so therefore it was easy for me to comprehend “chi follows intention”.

So what’s this got to do with horse’s right?? when I was well into my training as a Masterson Method practitioner there was a sense forming between my colleagues that there was something unusual going on. We practiced touch, response; touch, response; to develop a skill and sensitivity to the horse, what they were feeling, how we were helping and so on.

34

The unusual piece was what happened when we didn’t touch, when we hovered above where we were focussing on and I guess focused our intention. The horse sometimes responded as though they had been touched. We were surprised, excited and I guess in one way ignorant.

I mean it makes sense to me now, we set an intention and through that intention we elicited a response. I think at the time we were so excited by the prospect of “energy” even though we didn’t really know what we were experiencing.

Now it makes perfect sense to me, animals unlike humans have limited cognitive ability; additionally they communicate predominantly though body language and the subtleties of energy rather than the big vocal communications that people employ.

Feelsing

Of course it can be difficult to appreciate the subtleties of energetic communications when one spends most of their time vocalising their thoughts, fears, likes, dislikes and so on.

Anyone who knows me will know I am, (I’m definitely better than I used to be, no snide comments please), a bit of a talker so trust me when I say I know what I’m talking about!

I spent most of my adult life oblivious to the fact that there was anyone else talking never mind being able to pick up on these subtle communications, it’s any wonder I had such difficulties communicating with my own horse. He, like me, was pretty loud in his communications but only I believe from spending a lifetime with people who just weren’t listening to him.

So horses live in the now, they spend a lot of their time attempting to decipher the energetic code that is the human make up. Where we smile brightly at friends or colleagues but where underneath on the energetic level there is something darker brewing. So the horse looks at us in confusion, our body language says one thing but our energy says another. This is, I believe, why people are more excited and sceptical by the concept of energy; energy being all around us and the energetic ability to heal; because we are quite disconnected from our own and our environments energy. It’s not because we are not a sensitive species, it is because we are de-sensitised. We focus a lot of our energy on the past, the future and unlike animals we forget about the now.

 

Looking back to that day, I saw something that made me think of energy as a form of communication but now after a year’s training in Quantum Coherence Therapy (QCT) I see, feel and treat energy a lot differently.

I protect my own energies, conscious others can impact them; I use energy to decipher what’s really going on in my environment and how people in my life are feeling; most importantly I use energy to offer healing to the humans and animals that come into my life.

Healing with energy is probably one of the most subtle forms of healing, especially when using QCT. The structure of QCT is that it works on the basis of raising the cellular vibration of the client’s energies however it is the client’s consciousness that decides how and where to apply that energy.

If the subtleties of energy healing resonate with you and you’re interested to learn more, why not come visit me on my website @ http://www.equinetherapiesireland.ie/ and check out my Quantum Coherence Therapy tab.

 

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The Head Shy Horse

June 23, 2015

The Head Shy Horse, a theme many of us know all too well! Sore Head

What if I told you that maybe your horse wasn’t head shy but that they just had a very sore head!

A cold Thursday morning in Kildare as I travelled to see and treat Lola…Lola is a 7 y/o NH racehorse whom I first met in early 2013. What jumped out and stuck with me when I first met Lola was how head shy she was! She couldn’t tolerate me being near her ears, poll, or even from mid-way up her neck. She was guarded, suspicious and apprehensive. I asked her owner about it and he said, “she’s always been like that”; she’s home bred so he would know. Charlie’s a great guy so was open to my opinion that most head shy horses are like that because of pain and tension in their poll. It’s my belief, from my training and experience, that all pain, via compensation, at some degree ends up at the poll.

Let’s look at some of the mechanics in the horse’s body to get an understanding of how the poll can come under pressure and develop this pain. We know the poll as the area behind the horse’s ears, more specifically the atlanto-occipital joint or junction. This is the point of attachment of the horse’s head to their spine and subsequently the rest of their body.

The horse’s head accounts for approximately 10% of the horse’s body weight, so if we think Poll Atlas Junction about it, before any human intervention the poll is already managing quite a bit of downward pressure.

The funicular, (Latin for rope, meaning chord like in this context), section of the nuchal ligament attaches to the poll at the occipital bone; from here it travels under the horse’s mane, along the top of the neck, and continues along the back as the supraspinous ligament, linking bone to bone as far back as the lumbar spine. The lamellar nuchal ligament links the funicular nuchal ligament to the middle cervical vertebrae.

Nuchal - Blank & Whitesupraspinous ligament

So we’re already starting to see how the poll is connected to the horses back and to their neck. If brachiocephalicus musclewe now think about the brachiocephalicus muscle, which is charged with extending the shoulder, advancing the limb and drawing the head and neck to the side when the limb is planted, this attaches to the poll at the nuchal crest and the wing of the atlas (atlas = cervical vertebrae 1 (C1) & is one half of the atlanto-occipital joint).

So now we see that the poll is coming under pressure not only from the downward force of the weight of the head but also through attachment to the muscles that move the legs and the connectivity through the spine. If we take a look at the longissimus (Latin for longest) muscle of the horse’s back, we note that there are in fact five parts to this muscle. The atlantis, capitis, cervicis, thoracic, and lumborum parts. So not only does the poll connect to the back through the ligaments but also through the muscles. I guess the picture I’m trying to draw here is one where we can see that the whole horse is connected, be it through muscle, fascia (connective tissues), ligaments or tendons.

Whole Horse

The above is a depiction from a Masterson Method (MM) colleague based in Wisconson, USA. I was fortunate enough to spend some months with Becky Tenges in early 2014. She wrote an article for the MM newsletter on her experience of the whole horse concept following a training course with Dr. Kerry Ridgeway DVM. You can find this link at the bottom of this blog.

So by understanding how the horse is designed it makes sense that if there is primary pain or trauma eventually there will be secondary tension and fatigue. I believe that in order to give our horses the best opportunity to perform at optimum ability we need to see and treat them in their entirety.

As a Masterson Method practitioner myself, I work with the horse by following their neurological responses. This provides instant feedback to what’s going on in their body and helps me to help them release tension in their whole body. Helping our horses to release this build up of tension results in a happier, more relaxed and willing horse.

In my experience pain and discomfort at the poll can and does develop secondary to a lot of primary equine afflictions. A common one I see is the horse suffering with chronic low grade caudal heel pain. These horses, to alleviate pain at the back of the hoof, brace up into the structures in the upper limbs and the muscles at their chest. This response is essential as they adjust their posture to ease the ache in their heels. This adjustment may provide short term relief but eventually the tension in the limbs and pectorals will travel up in the neck and then into the poll. It’s at this point that we can end up with a troublesome head shy horse, among other things.

“Fast forward to today, months since I first met Lola; when I last spoke to her owner he mentioned that her handler had asked what had been done with her since she had last been in race training. Why? because apparently she was a different horse to handle. Charlie explained about me; apparently he said he wasn’t sure exactly what I did but that his mare sure seemed more relaxed afterwards.”

If you are the owner of a head shy horse why not connect with me through FB, Twitter or on my upcoming website, www.equinetherapiesireland.ie. We can have a chat and maybe help your horse feel better.

https://www.facebook.com/equinetherapiesireland

https://twitter.com/etiwellness

See also below articles from Jim Masterson and Becky Tenges on the “head shy horse”.

https://www.mastersonmethod.com/educational-articles/item/155-head-shyness.html

https://www.mastersonmethod.com/educational-articles/item/148-tmj-whole-horse-approach.html

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Just a little bit about the paths that led to this journey of mine..

May 8, 2015

So I reckon in this life we all travel many different paths which of course take us on many different journeys and so my horse journey began at a pretty young age at a local riding school. That’s me, the first of the three; I’d been horse riding for quite a few years by the time this was taken.

rye-valleyI was a pretty lucky kid and got to move on from that riding school and spend my summers looking after Simon Ryan’s ex show-jumper. Of course at the time I didn’t realise this and so like most teens my prioritise started to change and so my path changed and along with it that horse journey. All through my 20s I still thought of and dreamt of horses BUT at that stage of my life I was “super” busy travelling and carving out a career in Financial Services.

2008, I’m 28; a long way from that girl sitting on that fence but lucky me I got the opportunity to spend a week in Price Canyon Dude Ranch, in Tucson Arizona. It was during that amazing week that my passion for horses fully came alive again; and so unknowingly, at the time, I meandered down another path.

price-canyon-ranchI arrived home babbling about horses and determined to get myself back into the horse world and so bought my first horse. Considering the impending state of the economy its no wonder I picked an ex-racehorse, two for a penny considering the strain on the industry. Anyways apparently hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I now believe everything happens for a reason and so me and my ex-racer travelled down the next path together, and wasn’t it a bumpy one! Dynamo Dan, AKA DAN, played an important role in my present journey. I was brimming with enthusiasm but lacking in core knowledge, unbeknownst to myself at the time as is usually the case! So I set about working and schooling and working and schooling Dan with the hopes of pursuing a casual eventing career! Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, Dan had other ideas. Coming up against every possible, or so I thought at the time, issue, over a prolonged period I really began to despair on my path. Why had I ended up here I asked myself, what made me buy “this” horse, I dreamed of a “push button horse”, one I could ride without the worry of ending up on the ground. I just could not figure out how Dan, who was quite a pleasure on the ground, could become so difficult once he had a saddle on. I tried different trainers, gadgets, feed, shoes, along with some bodywork sessions; everything the “propaganda” AKA marketing machine prescribes but was losing all hope of getting anywhere. Dan bucked, spooked, shied, refused to go forward and eventually started rearing. Looking back now I can clearly see Dan was doing his very best to communicate with me but at the time I lacked the skill and sensitivity to tune in.

me-dan2008, and before this current journey began, I had gone back into part-time college and for my efforts was awarded a Business degree; typically, and not long after I started back in college, I was told that I was going to be made redundant from my long-term job in AIG. At first I thought about more studies in the business sector but soon realised that my interest in business had seriously faded and that horses were what I was truly passionate about. Around this time I began to research different equine bodywork courses and set upon a UK Equine Physiotherapy qualification and was due to start training after my redundancy. In the meantime however I became aware that Jim Masterson https://www.mastersonmethod.com/about-the-masterson-method-and-jim-masterson.html,

was returning to the UK to give training in the summer. I was aware of Jim and had looked at his training before but at the time couldn’t justify the costs. But this time I was ready for change and so made the necessary enquiries. Following the initial intensive training course in the UK I was hooked and so after deliberations I decided to go ahead with the Masterson Method certification instead. Back to Ireland and I enthusiastically started my case study work and also to regularly treat Dan. I was blown away by the changes in him, physically, emotionally and under saddle. By helping Dan release the tension accumulated in his body I helped change how he felt in his body. He started to float under saddle the same way I saw him float in the field.

I could see the potential of my training to not only treat horses but to learn to read and better communicate with them. At the same time I realised that my own sensitivity would need some serious fine tuning and so I embraced all that colleagues, mentors and most importantly the horse could teach me. I travelled to the UK, USA, France and Geneva to hone my skills and met some amazing people and horses in the meantime.

ukI also studied Equine Biomechanics, Gait Analysis and Lameness at Whittle College (UK,) under Dr. Barbara Crabbe DMV, to develop my understanding of the difficulties faced by the veterinary industry in trying to diagnose equine conditions. Horses are prey and herd animals so they do their best to hide any pain until it is impossible to do so anymore. This makes the veterinarian and body workers job a lot more difficult. How easy is it for the doctors who’s patients tell them where is hurts instead of trying to hide it! So with my corporate background and a never ending desire to provide solutions I did some more research to see what I could do to help provide affordable solutions in these situations. It was here that I learnt about infrared and its amazing ability to see what was going on under the skin. So while in the US I trained as a Level One Themographer and an Equine Themographer. At the same time I affiliated with United Infrared, Inc, this gave me access to qualified veterinarian interpretations of my infrared reports. Now I was working alongside some amazing vets but also vets who were qualified and experienced themographers. What a combination; but I’ll chat more about that in another post.

Back in Ireland I was fortunate to spend some time with some local equine vets which helped me develop a practical understanding and appreciation of the work they do. I genuinely believe, with every fibre of my being, that all experts in the equine industry should work together harmoniously for the well being of the horse. The horse, as I’m sure you know, is the most amazing, forgiving, humble, proud (I know its a contradiction but it’s true!) and patient animal.

Over the past few years I have really changed my way of life and my attitude to life. I am definitely happier than ever and being located in the heart of horse country, Co. Kildare Ireland, I hope to bring a lot of relief to horses and owners in the area

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No hoof..no horse..no herd…?

May 8, 2015

No hoof, no horse, we’ve all heard this before but no herd? Day five of Dan’s hoof poultice regime; I arrived at the yard that morning as usual and headed for the field. To my relief I straight off saw that Dan had some weight on his near fore and more importantly was standing with the herd! Poor Dan had been ostracised from the herd about five days before. Why? Because he had picked up an infection in his hoof which turned nasty and travelled up into his lower leg, basically turning him into a liability. Now bearing in mind Dan’s herd consists of a Connemara gelding with navicular, and a 20+ y/o mare struggling about with stringhalt, not exactly up for battle should a predator come looking for them.

This is me, Dan and his old herd.

1655858_773343592724667_5710477744780106421_n1I headed into the field feeling a lot chirpier than I had been over the past week but still can’t say I enjoyed the run-around I got from my previously dog-lame TB, who even yesterday couldn’t put weight on the aforementioned leg. Now I was struggling to catch a sprightly 9 y/o who looked to be feeling on top of the world, even though still clearly demonstrating a gait discrepancy.

What this scenario highlights to me is the effort our horses will go to, to conceal an injury, mask the pain and just get on with life as best they can. Why do horses do this; despite our best efforts to domesticate the horse we can’t change how Mother Nature designed them. Dan, once the proud herd leader, had become a liability and although animal predators don’t really exist for the domestic horse these days, their instinct to flee remains intact. So Dan’s priority was to regain position in the herd, for group safety, and also to display agility to discourage any hungry predators.

The horse is considered the 11th fastest animal on land so we can appreciate why a healthy horse could put a lot of predators off the chase.

This predator alert response, known in lay terms as the fight or flight response, is initially activated through the amygdala in the horse’s frontal lobe. This then triggers a response in the hypothalamus and results in the release of adrenalin. The hypothalamus, situated in the base of the forebrain and connected to the pituitary gland, is itself an endocrine gland (hormone releasing gland) and is the main link between the endocrine and the nervous system. It makes sense of and then directs signals from the five senses and the internal organs. Mini memos are then issued to either the nervous or endocrine system to dictate the body’s response. That’s the short version but if you’re interested you can read more about it here http://www.fairhorsemanship.com/articles-horse-science/the-physiology-of-the-fight-flight-instinct/ ; http://www.equestrianlife.com.au/articles/Fight-Flight-or-Freeze_.

So what happens if we have a situation where our horse isn’t motivated enough to fight and isn’t able to flee. When does this even happen you may ask yourself, well I’ll give you an example that’s all too familiar to me. Imagine you have two horses in an arena suffering with chronic front limb lameness with resulting secondary compensatory tension and restriction in the body. The first horse is a young hot-blooded TB and the second a middle aged “reliable, bombproof” colder blooded pony. The first horse is super sensitive, full of his own self and is determined to demonstrate that he is in pain and proceeds to buck his way around the arena when the pressure of the requests are increased. This is the fight and flight response in action. Not to anthropomorphise the horse but when I think of this situation I visualise a beautiful and proud animal determined to be heard. On the other hand we think of the colder blooded, less sensitive older horse, but one who regardless still feels pain. Maybe they used to fight or attempt to flee but have since resigned themselves to not being heard so instead brace their mind and body and block out the stimulus until the ordeal is over; not exactly the golden road to “partnership” most people are hoping for with their horses.

It was only during my Masterson Method Practitioner training that I started to realise the extent that horses do this, this being to brace against pain and unpleasantness. Jim Masterson used to say that it is the horse’s natural instinct to move or flee but when we take away this option, simply by putting on a head collar and tying the horse up, instead we activate the “brace response”.

An example I regularly use to explain this to my clients owners is to put ourselves into the therapist chair. Unless you’ve opted for a non-invasive therapy, examples of these, among others, would be energy work, MFR etc, anyways if you opt for the more hands on therapy at some point you are going to want to brace your system in anticipation of pain but you know that this is good for you so you instruct your muscles to stay relaxed. The Masterson Method describes itself as, an Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork that follows the horse’s responses to help them release pain and tension; nicely demonstrated by some of my clients below.

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This is done by activating the four key junctions, (the poll / atlas, the shoulder / wither junction, the hind end and the back), in a relaxed state, consequently increasing range of movement and releasing tension the body is holding.

The key phrase here is Range of Movements in a Relaxed State; by working with the horse to stay under their brace response, what we now know to be the body’s response to stimulus it can’t escape from, we can help the horse release long held tension and restrictions. What’s so exciting about this is that by doing this regularly we can not only improve our horse’s performance but also their longevity. I say longevity because if we think back to Dan on day five of his hoof poultice regime, he is still some way from being 100% but as a horse he does his best to conceal his pain, as is natural and instinctive to him as a prey and herd animal. Fortunately for Dan I am not only aware that he is not yet 100% and as a result he won’t be back in work until he is properly sound, but also that with compensation his offside will be overworked, unbalanced, tight and tender. A lot of the time the injury has long since passed but the knock on changes in the body are overlooked and with no treatment being provided only become tighter and more restricted. This not only impacts performance but also contributes to the slow demise of the internal structures.

If you would like to learn more about me, my training and what I can do to help your horse, please come follow me on FB & Twitter. https://www.facebook.com/equinetherapiesireland https://twitter.com/etiwellness. Alternatively you can read up more about the Masterson Method @ https://www.mastersonmethod.com/about-the-masterson-method-and-jim-masterson.html