Louise uses a variety of techniques in her work dependent upon what she feels is appropriate for your horse and will always be happy to discuss this with the owner. Should you require a particular therapy then of course Louise will be happy to work to the owner's requirements so please feel free to mention this to her. Below is a brief outline of the main therapies Louise uses:
Equine Sports Massage
This is a well recognised hands on therapy which concentrates on releasing muscle tension, increasing circulation, range of movement and overall health and performance and uses professional massage techniques.
Myofascial Release (MFR) and Equine Touch
Fascia is a connective tissue which runs continuously throughout our entire body like a three dimensional web, running through muscles, bones, organs, vessels and skin. If you looked at the body as just a muscular or skeletal system without fascia then it would just be a pile of muscle and bones, so it is pretty important! Fascia in a healthy state protects, supports and connects every structure within the body.
When an injury occurs (which can come from stress, disease, surgical procedures and even blocked emotions and memories as well as physical trauma) the fascia can become immobile and tighten down , resulting in snags in the fascial web, which then puts pressure on structures, such as joints, nerves and muscles resulting in problems such as pain or restricted movement, and because of the nature of the fascia it can show in a seemingly unrelated area in the body. A great way of helping understand this is to pull down on your shirt sleeve toward your fingers and you will feel the pressure on your elbow or shoulder, rather than your fingers.
Myofascial Release Treatment encompasses the whole horse and consistently effective results are achieved for a wide variety of health issues, including unexplained or chronic issues as well as common problems like hind end stiffness and back problems.
MFR and Equine Touch are both gentle techniques that work on the fascial system in different ways. With MFR, Louise will usually be using a gentle sustained pressure (ranging from very light to deep), sometimes with movement of a body part until she feels the fascia release which will allow the body to naturally align itself in a more healthy state. Equine Touch works in a different way where the tissue is mobilized and stimulated by using a specific move , or series of moves, over precise points of the horse's body which could be accupressure points, trigger points or sites of common injuries.
Reiki / Hands on Healing
Reiki is a hands on healing method used to channel energy. The word 'Reiki' is a Japanese word made up of two syllables: Rei means aura or spiritual consciousness and Ki means energy or life force. Louise often combines Reiki with her treatments and particularly likes to use it for emotional stress and horses who are struggling to be touched. She finds it invaluable in some cases and most horses benefit greatly from the energy work.
The Benefits Of Body Work
Improve stamina By increasing the range of motion, you’ll find the horse is working again in an efficient manner, thus improving the stamina as well as the performance. Anytime the horse is working against himself he is using excessive energy to run his systems.
Improve the disposition A horse that is not comfortable has to be a saint if he never complains about it. We all know plenty of saints. Other individuals will present their objections by changing their behavior. Often, you’ll look back in hindsight realizing that your four legged friend was trying to tell you something well before an injury took place. He wasn’t just being difficult, he was attempting communication. Remember when, out of the blue, he started pinning his ears when putting his saddle on? Could it be possible he was letting you know that he hurt somewhere?
Provide comfort to muscular injuries There are times when Louise will be called in on an existing case under veterinarian supervision or as part of the rehabilitation process following an orthopedic type problem or actual muscle injury. After the appropriate time for healing, you find massage, stretching and the proper exercise can help the process along by encouraging the scar tissue to lie down in a better pattern. Reducing any amount of scar tissue as it adheres to healthy tissue can help restore the muscle to better returning function.
Enhance the performance and gait quality By improving the stamina and the disposition, as well as the range of motion as we talked about above, the performance and gaits also reap the benefits.
Increase the range of motion A horse that moves better is more efficient in his stride. There is less wear and tear on the joints, ligaments and tendons equating to a longer performance life. Some disciplines rely on a big moving horse, so enhancing the stride improves the gaits. A longer and more efficient stride in a well conditioned sound race horse can make the difference in lengths at the finish line. The dressage horse that is flexible looks better and feels better. A jumper uses a major amount of muscle during his take off, flight and landing. If he is flexible and agile with the muscles synchronized properly, he’ll do a better job.
Improve the circulation You’ve noticed that stocked up legs will go down after a little exercise or by applying friction. When you’ve got the circulation going you’re also helping to stimulate the elimination of waste products in the system. Exercise is actually the best way to increase the circulation; however, some horses are on a controlled exercise program while recovering from injury or illness. For these horses, body work is used to stimulate the circulation when necessary.
Reduce the tactile defense Some horses don’t want to be touched. They are not used to it and when you put on that surcingle for the first time you’ll be looking for an escape route. Others couldn't care less. They love to be touched, scratched, stroked and groomed. The defensive ones need a little time and communication via touch before they get started with any training. I’d say that 90% of the time the ones that are shaking you off just need a deliberate touch program. They come around fast as long as you’ve first investigated all the other factors in their environment that may be contributors to the problem.
Assess the physical condition It’s easy to feel tight muscles on a horse especially when it’s unilateral. Subtle changes in texture, temperature and tension can be detected with the hands. The horse’s response to touch is another part of the equation. By assessing with touch, you can also get some ideas as to how the training program is progressing (or not.) Often subclinical issues are hard to recognize, but earlier detection can mean permanent damage is lessened.
Body Work is used along with conventional and complementary health care as well as proper training techniques enabling the horse to perform at an optimum level. By itself, it does not attempt to cure anything.