Horse Bodywork for Balance and Collection

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Horse Bodywork for Balance and Collection

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  • Eqine first rib manipulation
  • Bodyworks type thing equine

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    07-04-2011, 04:55 PM
Horse Bodywork for Balance and Collection

Dear all

There are a number of threads where the horses are obviously suffering from balance issues both longitudinally and laterally/medially.

So rather than post the requested exercises within a thread I thought it might be useful for reference to post them here.

There are many exercises, but the first ones I will offer are Shoulder Press, Wither Rock and Loin Rock. These are all good for balance, stance, and development of natural collection.

I did not develop these exercises, but have learned them from several sources, the main ones being Sally Swift, Linda Tellington (or in my case via her sister Robyn) and Peggy Cummings.

Though they may not seem like much they are very powerful and take only a few minutes per day. I have also found them to be excellent for further developing your relationship and value to the horse. I have also chosen this type of bodywork because you cannot really do any harm to the horse by trying it. This is not about muscular manipulation and the pressures you apply are very slight in comparison.

They canals help your own awareness, and please follow the method carefully as your own breathing etc is very important.

I hope you find them useful.
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    07-04-2011, 05:26 PM
So I will post the exercises as I find time assuming people do want to see them.
The first I will begin within the Shoulder Press.


This is great for tension or stiffness in the shoulders and base of the neck, and also in the rib cage. It will help balance crookedness and improve the reach of the hind under and across. Any horse that has learned to brace will benefit.

Firstly it is important to picture your own motion. Your knees will be slightly bent, and all movement will be relatively slight. It will come from your core/hip twist. I find personally that breathing in, then hold and release to a slow count is beneficial,but not essential. The slow release is however, so gently apply the motion, maintain for a few seconds and then release to a longer count than you held it for. The slow release is critical. Though you may not feel anything,if you release suddenly it is like the horse is being dropped, and it will undermine the relaxing nature and trust.

At first this will all be an unusual sensation to most horses. Some will shake their heads or try to move around as you do this. That is ok. Stay with them, but don't force anything. Dong forget you have to learn how to do it too. It wont belong however before not only do they accept, but their heads will drop, eyes often sleepy etc etc.

You need a snug fitting halter to begin. Let's assume you start on the horses lefthand side. Carefully tuck your fingers behind the t-junction of the halter. Make a soft fist with your right hand (soft not hard like a boxer). Place this about 9 inches behind the front point of the shoulder in the soft muscle tissue.
Your left foot will be further towards the front of the horse, but your right foot will be closer to the body of the horse. About shoulder width apart or slightly narrower. Your elbow to your fist must be straight. No break in the wrist.

Then by slightly rotating your body (in this case anti-clockwise) apply a gentle pressure through your fist. Pressure wise it's only enough to feel your fist slightly indent the muscle. Not enough to feel pressure against the bone. Your left hand has applied a slight bend of the head towards you prior to beginning, but once you start your left hand just keeps a neutral position.

Press while counting 1 to 4, then slowly release over a 1 to 8 count.

When the horse is accepting and yielding to the exercise you will feel him shift his weight to the right leg and then slowly back again. You will likely also see a lowering of the head, a change in breathing etc dependent upon the condition of the horse.

The biggest challenge is really feeling the work and make the pressure and movements small enough. Our natural tendency at first is to push and pull way too much. In fact when you first see someone do this you will probably not notice anything being done at all. However once you look closely you will see the horse rocking in synch with the handler.

Please feel free to post any questions as you try these things.
    07-04-2011, 06:46 PM
I have a few questions.

How many times do you repeat this motion during a session? Also, how often should you do this for it to be effective?

As always, I am intrigued by any method that I have not heard of. I am familiar with the TTouch method, but have recently become, I guess I would say, more into this line of thinking since I have seen the positive difference that alternative therapies have made in myself. I will admit that before I thought it was all a bunch of bunk ;)
    07-04-2011, 07:51 PM
Video or photos would be greatly helpful for those of us more "visual" learners.
    07-04-2011, 08:12 PM
I agree, why don't you get someone to shoot a video of a demonstration?
On a side note, I have used TTouch techniques on dogs and they do work.
    07-05-2011, 02:52 AM
Originally Posted by ScharmLily    
I have a few questions.

How many times do you repeat this motion during a session? Also, how often should you do this for it to be effective?

As always, I am intrigued by any method that I have not heard of. I am familiar with the TTouch method, but have recently become, I guess I would say, more into this line of thinking since I have seen the positive difference that alternative therapies have made in myself. I will admit that before I thought it was all a bunch of bunk ;)
Well Linda and Peggy remain good friends and regularly promote each others work though both very different.
Her sister Robyn is a lovely woman, and has an excellent feel for the horse.

Anyway, in answer to your question, I would suggest that you need to do this at least 3 times per week to be effective. However it does not need to be for long. The thing is with this sort of work you are simply making then horse aware of itself, and the need to balance etc in a passive way. Therefore it is the time between that actually counts. So after you have finished the horse has to process what it has felt. That is actually what makes the difference. Most horses have poor proprioception. Its not important to a flight animal designed for the plains, in comparison with something that jumps from tree to tree like a monkey or a squirrel for example. We are improving that.

In terms of how long, ideally just until you get the 'release'. I wouldn't try it more than say 3 times if you can't get a release at first. Sometimes the horse is so stiff they physically can't release for a few sessions, but they will. It's not the action we are after it's the result which is the release. So don't push it and let the horse find it naturally.

Like bending over to reach your toes. I can force you down, but you will brace and probably fall over after losing balance. Instead I am looking for you to learn to relax, bend, and regain your own balance as you go down.

As I said once they get it, it's an amazing bonding exercise. Talking of Robyn, I was training with her at Sara Fishers place here in the UK, when they had an ex police horse in who had been set on fire in a riot and left for dead in a ditch. That horse literally had the equine equivalent of a nervous breakdown. 3 weeks and he was riding and trusting again. This sort of work really helps the trust and bond. That was televised actually for a Uk program called the One Show, I'll have to see if I can find a clip. Beautiful horse. (I'll blank over my own face lol)
    07-05-2011, 07:51 AM
Green Broke
I'm subscribing :)

Love reading and trying new things with my horse
    07-05-2011, 08:02 AM
Subscribing, I really want to know more. Pictures or videos demonstrating would be a wonderful addition.
    07-05-2011, 08:21 AM
We already do Yoga so Im subscribing. Our mares flexion has improved 100% since we began the Yoga.
    07-05-2011, 09:06 AM
Well thank you. I'm very camera phobic tbh but if it really will help some of you out there with your horses, then I might pluck up the courage to shoot some video.

I really expected to find some video of this stuff elsewhere but there's nothing on YouTube even

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