illbebackPLEASE NOTE: Due to study commitments, I am stepping back from my bodywork practice until 2017. I will continue to accommodate referrals from other practitioners and rehab cases (with veterinary approval) where possible, but will not be taking on regular clients until completion of my Masters degree. I will also have limited availability for educational offerings throughout this year, but if you are interested in securing a 2017 workshop or seminar in your area, please get in touch on info@foundationsofsoundness.com with all of your questions and wild ideas!

Expert advice & hands-on equine therapy,
powerfully informed by real-life anatomy

With a toolbox including remedial and sports massage, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, muscle-specific acupressure, postural unwinding and more, I combine appropriate soft-tissue therapy techniques for each individual horse. Each session addresses the whole body, identifying subtle abnormalities in movement and posture, and variations to the feel and appearance of the horse’s muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. Patterns of tension and compensation are traced through the myofascial connections all of these structures form.

Myo-what?

Myofascial; muscle, and fascia – the connective tissue that links all of the other tissues together. Check out the “Strolling Under The Skin” video below to see what it looks like!

Everybody talks about the whole body being connected, but it sounds kind of far-fetched to me…

A little skepticism is a good thing! It’s important to question things and educate yourself if you want to be an advocate for your horse and help them perform at their best.

Myofascial release and myofascial trigger points often get thrown in the “woo” basket, but there’s actually a heap of  exciting research on fascia and the role it plays in musculoskeletal injury and disease…and there’s evidence to suggest that fascia also plays an important role in the body’s neurosensory system. First of all, you have functional chains, or ‘myofascial meridians’, that assist the muscles in coordinating movements with ease…unless they are DYSfunctional. These anatomically connected units have been dissected out in detail in both the human AND the horse. This is how seemingly innocuous issues can snowball into complex patterns of compensatory tightness.

This image is a basic illustration of several myofascial chains described by Drs Schultz and Elbrond. Looking at the connections in this image, choose an area on one of the lines that is commonly injured or tight. Now, look at the connected areas that might be affected. Where do you think you might find some secondary problems due to tension or compensation and overuse? The answer is just about anywhere along the affected lines, and often those they are closely connected with too!

This image is a basic illustration of several myofascial chains described by Drs Schultz and Elbrond. Looking at the connections in this image, choose an area on one of the lines that is commonly injured or tight. Now, look at the connected areas that might be affected. Where do you think you might find some secondary problems due to tension or compensation and overuse? The answer is just about anywhere along the affected lines, and often those they are closely connected with too!

Do you want to sit on a tight, braced back, or a soft and supple horse that seems to float on air?

Healthy fascia lets the muscles slide and glide over each other – and you’d be surprised just how much better even your soundest horse can feel when their fascia is in optimum condition. Defensive fascia locks the horse’s muscles down like shrink wrap. That’s no exaggeration… I suggest you have a feel for where your horse’s body feels dry and where the muscles seem velvety soft and well-hydrated. If you want to see what these textures look like, there are more dissection photos on the Foundations of Soundness page on Facebook. And if you’re feeling brave, attend a whole horse dissection. You will leave with a much deeper understanding and detailed mental picture of your horse’s body and how it works. It will transform the way you work with them – many confusing training issues become clear once you can picture them in 3D.

This chronic compensatory dysfunction tends to spread, and this is often where the neurosensory aspect becomes a serious problem. Fascia is highly innervated tissue (you’re going to hear a lot more about that in coming years), and when there is excess tension or friction, it can be exquisitely painful.

In the horse, muscular problems frequently manifest as crookedness, contact issues, rigidity and stiffness, and behavioural problems, just to name a few. Chances are you’ve experienced this yourself at some point; I certainly have, and that’s part of the reason I ended up in this field. The notion that time heals all wounds keeps me in a job – because the more common scenario involves the dysfunctional myofascial tissue tightening its grip in compensation until either the tension is removed, or the weakest link gives way (a frequent culprit in tendon and ligament injuries). Essentially, whatever therapy we use, we have to work with the fascial system to achieve lasting results. As Dr Kerry Ridgway describes it, all good equine health and training professionals are ‘postural rehabilitation specialists’.

My approach to  postural rehabilitation integrates bodywork with tools such as targeted stretching programs, groundwork and pole exercises and a therapeutic approach to training. Other factors such as diet, hoof balance and saddle fit may also need to be addressed, as an integrative, team approach is imperative to managing your horse’s soundness. As such, I have a vast network of  colleagues to call on when required to ensure the best results for your horse.

What do I stand for?

  • A whole-horse approach to assessment and treatment
  • Skilled integration of complementary therapies and evidence-based, scientific principles
  • A commitment to continuing professional education and life-long learning
  • An equestrian culture that empowers riders, owners and breeders to become advocates for their horse’s performance and well-being, through educational opportunities and access to quality information

What can you expect?      

Remedial work often yields impressive changes when chronic dysfunction is peeled away, but why bother with a horse who seems to be going quite nicely? Well, clients commonly report results such as:

  • Increased freedom and fluidity of movement
  • Improved performance in training and competition
  • A softer back and improved contact
  • A more willing attitude to training and improved mental wellbeing

 If it’s that sweet, supple slide and glide factor you’re after, what are you waiting for? Just be warned…there’s no going back once you’ve felt your horse at their best!

Are you ready to raise the benchmark for your horse?

Equine Therapy FAQ

My philosophy is based on looking at every horse holistically, and I use a variety of soft-tissue therapy techniques to assist in restoring balance to the whole horse. I believe in empowering riders to be advocates for their horses’ well-being through client education – the horses I am always happiest with at their check-ups are those whose owners make stretching, simple massage and groundwork with poles part of their regular routine. They are usually the horses that can maintain that soft, supple feeling for the longest between sessions!
A skilled bodyworker with refined palpation skills can often pick up on subtle issues in the musculoskeletal system. However, I am not a veterinarian and therefore cannot legally diagnose your horse, nor can any other non-veterinarian. If I suspect there is an injury or pathology to be addressed, I will refer you to a vet for a proper diagnostic workup. Many common lameness and performance problems respond very well to a holistic rehabilitation program, but it’s important to get the whole picture from the start if there seems to be an underlying problem. Once a diagnosis has been made, I am able to work in conjunction with your vet and farrier or trimmer, to resolve the postural and biomechanical issues. The best results always come from a team effort based on communication and collaboration!
The following rates apply to all clients within the Greater Melbourne region.

Initial consultations are $115 inc GST. While the length of the session is dictated by the horse, I suggested allowing up to 2 hours for your horse’s first appointment. Follow-up consultations are $100 inc GST, and generally take approximately 60-90 minutes. Clients within a short distance of my home can take advantage of discounted local rates – get in touch on 0412 953 375 to find out if you are eligible!