Balanced Horse Bodywork

Bodywork is a holistic approach to improve your horse’s health and performance.  I offer bodywork for your horse, including Equine Structural Integration, massage and stretching techniques, to improve your horse’s balance. The work I offer for your horse is a great way to enhance performance and get that extra edge in your training and competitions!

Just like us, our horses have weaknesses and injuries, and respond by establishing compensation patterns.  Injury or repetitive stress can cause the fascia to become shorter and tighter.  Tight fascia can pull muscles and bones out of proper alignment, leading to discomfort or pain. Over time, this tension in the tissue reduces elasticity, flexibility and performance.  By freeing up the connective tissue, we reduce tension in the horse’s body and improve fluidity, allowing your horse to move more freely and with more grace.

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What is Equine Structural Integration?

Structural Integration is a holistic bodywork modality that focuses on the fascia to balance the body, first developed by Dr. Ida Pauline Rolf (1896-1979).  Fascia is the connective tissue that supports muscles, blood vessels, organs, and nerves. As injuries and general wear and tear occur, the fascia protects the body and masks any weakness by tightening in a way to compensate for the injury or weakness.  The horse’s body then learns this shortened movement pattern that has less range of motion and fluidity. Balancing the body through structural integration removes compensation patterns that develop, and creates better communication through the fascial network that runs through the body.  

Structural integration serves as a way to influence the fascial network in each of us, to allow our bodies to function as naturally and gracefully as they were designed to do.  Balance, freedom of movement, and communication within the body are all wonderful side effects of an integrated structure. 

Why Structural Integration?

So why structural integration?  Why should your horse have a “series”?  While I do employ massage and stretching techniques, the foundation of my bodywork is structural integration.  Structural integration involves a series of sessions to systematically balance and align the body so it can maximize function.  In horses, this series is typically 4-5 sessions.  Throughout this process, we don’t just relax the horse’s muscles and focus on a particular problem area, but reprogram the horse’s entire fascial network and neuromuscular system. 

By releasing the tension in the fascia, we return elasticity back to the horse.  Due to the fascial network being completely connected, when we address tension and compensations in one area, we free up slack, so to speak, in the whole body.  The horse’s nervous system integrates this information, and new movement patterns with greater freedom are programmed.  The effects gained through structural integration are long lasting, often 6-12 months, with only infrequent maintenance sessions as follow-up.   

As prey animals, horses do their best to mask pain and discomfort. It is up to us to interpret their behaviours. While this list is not exhaustive, there are many signs that your horse may benefit from bodywork:

+ Sensitive to groom, saddle or blanket
+ Bucking, balking, stopping at fences
+ Difficulty connecting the hind end
+ Heavier on one rein, trouble bending in one direction
+ Moves with quarters in, or “drops” shoulder in
+ Lead swapping, or difficulty picking up a particular lead
+ Unwillingness to stand still for mounting, tacking
+ “Cold-backed”


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Get Results

Katie has done structural integration bodywork on three of my horses in Barriere now. I was excited to learn how it could compliment the other massage and chiropractic work I have had done on them, and Katie was great at explaining the unique benefits of this approach. It was interesting learning about fascia and compensation patterns, and I loved seeing my horses yawn over and over as they released tension. One of my horses even rested his head on Katie’s shoulder while she was working on his poll! She has a calm, focused energy while working on horses, which transfers over to them. She is extremely thorough in her assessment and treatment of each animal, and provides a follow-up email with her notes. Thanks Katie!

-Sarah

Katie has done an incredible job working on my two mares! The one always loves getting treatments but the other was pretty ready to kill us during the first one! After the first session she went to work and realized how much more ABLE she felt and by the third session she was pretty much leaning on top of Katie to get her to dig deeper! Both horses feel incredible post treatments and I’m so grateful Katie is able to help them!

-Jesse

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What does a series look like?

A series is typically 4-5 sessions, each lasting approximately 1hr 15 mins to 1hr 30 mins

Session one builds rapport and establishes trust, while identifying holding patterns.  Superficial tension is released while continuing to identify deeper holding patterns.
 

60Session two focuses on vertical balance over all four legs, freeing up the shoulders, lumbar, hips and pelvis.  This creates stability, as well as power from the hind end.

Session three moves into horizontal balance, addressing deeper tension through the barrel, and integrates muscle groups that share movement functions.

Session four further integrates the body while connecting the front end to the hind, addresses core holding patterns in the body, and assists in bringing out the horse’s natural fluidity.

Session five reinforces changes.  As the horse moves through the series and explores their new flexibility, they must develop strength in their new movement patterns.


Performing equine structural integration

Typically you want at least several days to a week minimum between sessions so the horse has time to experience and explore their “new” body.  As your horse moves through the series, more time between sessions may be beneficial for them to build strength.  The results of the sessions are cumulative; I’ve found the effects become most noticeable usually as we move into sessions 3 and 4.  

Please have your horse relatively clean to get the most out of your session time.

RATES

As of July 1, 2019: $100 per session.  Each session lasts approximate 75-90 mins.  After each session, you will receive a detailed report via email so you can keep track of your horse’s progress!

Series package available (5 sessions, prepaid.  Offer available until the end of the 2nd session, then regular session rates apply.)  Package price $425.


OTHER SERVICES OFFERED

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Performance Prep sessions are a great way to ensure your horse is best prepared to show off in the ring. These sessions (45 mins) are designed to help clients in a regular program get the maximum performance out of their horse at their event. $60

Rest & Recovery sessions available to help your horse feel their best. Perhaps you’re in the middle of a hunter/jumper show, 3 day event, or just finished a 50 mile ride! You’ll want to ensure your horse is feeling best prepared to continue. These shorter sessions (45 mins) are designed to help your horse stay loose, relieve muscle soreness and flush lactic acid. $60

Clinics and demos are also run periodically, or upon request. Inquire today!

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My Vision

In offering this service, my vision is to improve the relationship between horse and rider, and to enhance the horses’ well-being and overall health. Through this work, I have found many horses become more emotionally engaged and connected, as fascia does hold emotion.

Please note that equine structural integration and bodywork does not replace veterinary care. Consult your veterinarian with any concerns.