Blog post in collaboration with Healthy Horse
We spent a day with Sandie from Healthy Horse so that she could tell us a little bit about the work she does with Cathrine’s horses and also show you a few tips and tricks for what you can do to help your horse at home, and what you should look for to make sure your horse is as fit as possible!
Sandie has been passionate about horses ever since she was a kid, and always wanted to work within a field that allowed her to help horses be as fit and healthy as possible. She got a formal training in horse massage, spent some time with an equine vet and topped it all off with some extra training in craniosacral therapy amongst other things – and then she opened Healthy Horse in 2001.
Cathrine and Sandie have worked together for years and we’re so excited to get some real insights from Sandie today!
So today we’re at Dufour Dressage, where I’m going to have a look at Bohemian and Cassidy and tell you all a bit about what I look for when I treat horses. My treatment consists of a few different things; relaxation, craniosacral therapy, “simple” manipulation of the large joints and of course the massage. You can see in the video with Bohemian above that just starting by gently relaxing his neck, how quickly he loosens up and drops his head. This is also a part of the craniosacral therapy I mentioned earlier.
On top of the things we can do physically as therapists, we also have an aquatrainer at Healthy Horse. A lot of people ask me which horses can use the aquatrainer and I would say that basically any horse can use it, even those that have an injury. There are of course certain injuries like fractures that mean that the horse needs to keep still, but for most minor injuries it can actually be beneficial for the horse to use the aquatrainer. So when we have a new horse coming to us, we always looks at the individual needs and put together a programme based on that. I think it’s really important to make sure that your horse keeps their muscles in shape even with an injury, and there are so many things we can do to help them heal. In addition to the aquatrainer we also use a cold water spa, which really helps heal injuries. It “pulls out” the fluid from hematomas for example, so it can be used practically all the way from the beginning of the injury and it will help the horse heal quicker.
One thing that’s really important for me as a therapist is to look at the full picture. Something as small as a toothache can have a massive impact on the whole body, so it’s important for me to really check everything when I’m out. That also means that I sometimes take the rider into consideration, as a “problem” with the rider can trickle down and actually have a huge impact on how the horse is feeling.
When the horse is at home I also really encourage riders to actually take the time to feel with your hands how the horse's body and muscles feel. When you do this often it's much easier for you to tell if something doesn't feel right and to help your horse as soon as possible.
So I want to show you all a small trick that you can do at home, and it’s actually one you can use every day. It’s all about the top line - if we start at the neck here. Start by placing to fingers right behind the ears to help your horse relax. Leave it there until the horse lowers its head. When you’ve gotten this neck release you start moving your hands in a snake-like movement down along the mane. Sometimes you’ll hit a point where you can feel the horse is a bit tense and then you can just stop op for a second. After that you can keep going – make sure to go back and forth a little bit to really loosen up. Then when you get to the withers, you’ll probably feel a bit of tension, especially at this time of year when the horses are wearing heavy blankets outside. If you get to a tense spot, just keep your fingers there for a second to really release the tension. Then just keep going in the snake-like movement until you get to the lower back. A lot of horses will react when you get to the lower back, so if that happens just stop up like we did earlier. And then you can keep going in the snake-like movement until you get to the top of the tail. And as simply as that you’ve loosened up your horse and prepared them for a great training session!