Monthly Archives: July 2013

Putting Together the Puzzle

I was called to go look at a new client. All I knew was that he had torn a ligament in a hind leg while working in sloppy footing. He is a Welsh pony who competes in combined driving. He had his back to me as I walked into his pen, and I asked the owner  “Was it the right hind that was injured?”  It turns out it was, and the reason I thought so was that his right hip was higher than the left, and the muscles of his right gluteals looked tight. He has been cleared to work. The original injury has healed. But the pony has been experiencing pain in his back and behind the left shoulder. I also noticed atrophy on the left side of his neck.

I believe the back pain is from a major spasm at the junction of the longissimus dorsi and gluteals on the right side. When a horse is injured, there might have been a spasm before that caused the injury, or the spasm formed after the injury due to lame walking and posture. In this case I don’t know which came first, as I met the pony after the injury.

I think the atrophy in the neck may be due to the spasm in the serratus muscles (behind the shoulder) on the left side. I worked on all 25 Stress Points, focusing extra attention on the spasms and on the long back muscles. I also used the cold laser on the areas where he was experiencing pain. It may take a few sessions, but I am confident that this wonderful and affectionate (he rested his head on my shoulder while I worked) animal will return to his job once his body is balanced.

Acupuncture for Your Animals

I have been studying acupuncture, and loved this thought from one of my textbooks:

“The master acupuncturist does not limit himself to treating only one part of the animal’s body, or specialize in certain diseases. The veterinary acupuncturist is concerned with the body as a whole and the influence of one part of it on other parts. They think that the American veterinarians are foolish to compartmentalize their practice. They believe that a veterinarian who limits his medical practice to any specialty may miss the correct diagnosis and is likely to prescribe treatment that might temporarily relieve symptoms in one area while damaging other areas and the whole body. The goal is to restore the balance of body energy and to improve the animals general health as well as relieve the pain or lameness of the animal.”

H. Grady Young, D.V.M

What Can You Do Between Professional Massages?

I have a client who has chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, Stress Point Therapy, Cold Laser, and superior nutrition. You would expect this horse to feel and perform well. He does, but he also seems to be reverse aging and getting happier as he moves into his teen years. His owner grooms him for 45 minutes daily. Yes, I know that is not always possible, but if you have the intent it can happen more often than not. The benefits to his muscle tone, circulation, mental health, and general appearance are obvious to everyone who sees him.

Taking the time to thoroughly groom gives you the opportunity to closely monitor any changes in your horse. It is also an important bonding time. The connection between this horse and rider is undeniable: when I talk to her, the horse is usually nuzzling her neck at the same time, and he goes to heroic lengths to keep her safe on cross country courses.

Grooming is good preventive medicine. Getting the circulation flowing before exercise will help prevent injuries. Your horse will be healthier and feel loved!

How Fascia is Released

The fascia is what gives the body shape. It is connective tissue that surrounds and supports every muscle, organ, and bone in the body. In its natural state, fascia is pliable and relaxed. However, when injured, exhausted, or stressed through poor posture, it can become tight, hard,  and distorted.

The magic I feel when releasing fascia can only compare to a child playing with clay! Fascia has a gel-like texture which has the ability to change shape and release when warmed. I recently worked on a horse that I could see had tight fascia in the haunches. The skin had a puckered look to it. I held my hand over the area and had to have patience while I waited to feel a change in temperature. When the area felt warm, I could move and spread the tight tissue. The owner was amazed to see a change in the appearance: instead of a tight, bumpy muscle, the haunches looked buttery and smooth. When we walked him forward, he had a lovely gliding feeling in his movement.

The Ever Changing Body

Bodies can be molded out of shape by stress, but they can be molded back into health. Trauma can cause shortening of muscle and fascia. If forced to maintain a contraction for a long period of time, the shortening becomes permanent. The fascia begins to hold muscles into contracted patterns, and becomes entwined with the muscles. Fascia is continuous throughout the body, so a distortion of one area causes compensating distortions in other parts.

Fascia has the ability to harden, so the areas it fixes into warped positions can have poor circulation and pain.

There is hope! The body can be restored to a balanced shape. Hardened muscles and fascia can be softened and healing energy can be released. Natural alignment will occur when areas of stress are repaired. Myofascial release, structural integration, and body balancing are always my goals with clients.

Do You Have a Draft Horse?

Draft, and draft cross horses generally have broad chests, short backs, long shoulders, and densely muscles croups. I have a draft client that I work on regularly. Even when he is in very light work, I find tight muscles in his hindquarters. The tightness travels down into his hind legs. Recently I was working on him and found alarmingly tight gastricnemius muscles on both sides:

I did Stress Point Therapy on the spot and got a bit of release, but it wasn’t until I loosened all the gluteus muscles that tension in the entire leg resolved. The owner, the horse, and I were all delighted with the softening easily felt in his entire hind end! The power of the muscles in his croup was too great to allow a complete release in surrounding muscles.

This kind of conformation is not limited to huge horses. I have a client that is a 13 hand pony who is built like a little draft horse. In his last bodywork session, I found similar stress points to the ones in the big draft horse.


What Causes Trigger Points?

There are several ways that trigger points can form:

– a direct blow to the body, such as a crash of some sort

– overexposure to cold

– overuse

– chronic poor posture

All of these factors can cause a muscle to contract. As the contraction is held, the muscle becomes fixed in a holding pattern that can become a source of chronic pain.

In an active trigger point pain can be felt. In a latent trigger point pain is felt only when pressure is applied. Any trigger point can cause a referral of pain to other muscles, often far away from the origin. Headaches are a very common example of referred pain.

Trigger Point Therapy works by the therapist putting pressure on the trigger point to release the contraction. People often report that, while physical therapy and medications failed to relieve their pain, trigger point therapy worked. Often in horses, a lameness that has not responded well to other treatment, will improve well or resolve with trigger point therapy.

How You Can Prevent Injuries

Muscles that are used constantly become short and tight, making them less effective, easily exhausted, and at risk for injury. Massage, specifically for athletes, both equine and human, relaxes contracted muscles by manually spreading muscle fibers and increasing circulation. This allows muscles to function more effectively, with greater range of motion, which makes them less prone to injury. Stress Point Therapy, or Sports Massage, can virtually extend the athletic career.

The Benefits of Cold Laser Treatment

Cold lasers have a localized therapeutic effect, but they also effect the whole body. The body produces anti-inflammatory substances, such as cortisol, which are significantly increased during a laser treatment. The levels reach a peak about four hours after treatment, and remain raised for about four days! Enhancing the body’s natural healing process is so easy with cold laser support.

Cortisol is essential for almost every function of your body! This crucial hormone normalizes other hormones, glucose metabolism, as well as the immune system. Cortisol is required to fight inflammation in the body. If your body is not producing enough cortisol, inflammation can rage through the body, producing the pain of fibromyalgia and many other health issues.

Lasers are used to reduce inflammation. They can be used to reduce the inflammation present in swelling. Lasers are also used to speed up wound healing. Lasers can also relieve pain through a mechanism similar to acupuncture (without the needles!).

The great thing about cold lasers is that they are:

  • Non-invasive
  • Non-toxic
  • Easily applied
  • Highly effective

I have found that in acute cases, lasers are most effective when used daily until the pain resolves. For less acute cases every three days works well.

Cold Laser Therapy stimulates the mitochondria into hyperactivity, in turn, generating more energy than usual for cells to repair themselves. With the extra boost of energy, cells perform more efficiently and effectively. The result is enhanced healing.

essential for the action of almost every function of your body! This crucial hormone normalizes other hormones, glucose metabolism as well as the immune system – See more at:
Cortisol is essential for the action of almost every function of your body! This crucial hormone normalizes other hormones, glucose metabolism as well as the immune system. – See more at:
Cortisol is essential for the action of almost every function of your body! This crucial hormone normalizes other hormones, glucose metabolism as well as the immune system. – See more at:

What Plants are Poisonous for Horses?

There are many plants that can be poisonous when eaten by a horse. All can be fatal if enough is eaten.  Here are a few of the main culprits:

Yew leaves and twigs are extremely dangerous if a horse eats even a small amount. Horses may be found dead with leaves still in their mouths. There is no treatment.

St. John’s Wort can cause liver damage and sun sensitivity.

Horsetail and Bracken

Acorns and Oak leaves due to their high tannin content, which can cause kidney damage.

Bracken Fern


Oleander: disrupts the heartbeat.

Red Maple

Yellow Star Thistle

To help a horse recover from poisoning, be sure to give Transfer Factor to promote healing, strengthen the immune system, and reduce inflammation.


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