The Psychology of Equus: An HHC Student’s Investigation

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How do horses interact with novel stimuli, and does personality play a role?

By Asila Bergman
2017 HHC Student

Introduction
This topic was explored with the help of three horses with previously unknown histories at Drifter’s Hearts of Hope rescue facility in Franktown, CO. The main goals of this project were to learn how horses in general use their body language and energy to communicate how they experience, feel, and learn about new things in their environments, as well as how each individual horse interacts with novel stimuli, and what this can tell us about his/her personality. Another goal was to explore these exercises as possible enrichment activities that could be used by the rescue
to encourage exploration, curiosity, and creativity in horses that may benefit from environmental stimulation.
The horses that participated in this project were Captain (12 yrs), Jack Sparrow ( 13 yrs), and Rosy (20 yrs). Since little was known about their origins, their ages were estimated. All three horses were rescued from a feedlot, and were together at a quarantine facility prior to arriving at the rescue. This project began within a few days following their arrival. They were all healthy and sound, and cleared by a vet to participate in this project.
Each horse participated in three exercises: obstacle course at liberty; obstacle course in-hand; and scent enrichment. The obstacle course consisted of nine obstacles made with a variety of different objects, and was designed for the horses to either walk across, through, over, or under, and was set up in an indoor arena. Some examples of the obstacles include: plastic chairs in two rows creating a lane to walk through; a tarp covered with swim noodles to walk over; car wash strips hanging down to walk through; wooden teeter totter to step onto and walk across. The horses were encouraged to explore the obstacle course at liberty with handlers applying pressure/release
using body language and line, and in-hand with handlers applying pressure/release with the Dually Halter.

For the scent enrichment activity, the horses were given the opportunity to explore four scents (rosemary, lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus) in 5 min, using free choice. Each scent box was made by putting 5 drops of the designated oil onto a paper towel and placing it inside of a plastic Tupperware container with several holes in the lid. The scent boxes were presented by sliding them under the gate, and placing them on the ground in each of the horse’s run area.
Captain
During the obstacle course at liberty, Captain approached and investigated several of the obstacles almost immediately, and was exhibiting curious and relatively confident behavior. Within a few minutes of being in the arena he walked up to one of the chairs and picked it up. His level of confidence and comfort could be due to the fact that he was not alone, and also had a familiar horse, Rubicon, in the arena with him. While working their way through the obstacle course with handlers, it became apparent that when Captain was given clear instructions through body language, he was able to follow them without much hesitation or fear. He was comfortable with objects touching him on the sides, as well as stepping up and over objects. He did not require a large amount of pressure from his handler (via body language/distance) in order to work up the
courage to cross any of the obstacles that he was presented with, and appeared to enjoy taking the lead. From observing him, it appeared that the value for him in the obstacle course at liberty was exploration, being allowed to influence his environment, and showing Rubicon where to go.

Captain exhibited similar behavior during the obstacle course in-hand. His handler noted that when she allowed him to make the decisions about which path to take, he often was seeking out and investigating obstacles on his own. She described him as being very keen, intelligent, and independent. He was also engaged with her during the obstacle course, and not afraid to have a voice in the process. He had many moments when he wanted to speed the process up, and sometimes got bored relatively quickly depending on the obstacle, where as during other more difficult obstacles (e.g. teeter totter), he needed some shaping, as well as more clarity and confidence in order to get through the entire obstacle. The value for Captain during this exercise was working through the difficult obstacles with his handler as a partner—because he is so
independent, it takes practice for him to take direction and leadership from others.

When the scent boxes were placed in Captain’s run, he immediately approached them to
investigate. He used his mouth and lips to touch each box as he sniffed them, and although he moved from one box to another pretty quickly, he spent the most time near lavender and peppermint. Captain spent approximately 30 seconds investigating the scent boxes, and then turned his back to them and walked to the other end of the run. Captain was inquisitive and interested by this exercise, but once he had taken a whiff of each of the boxes, he lost interest relatively quickly.

Jack Sparrow
During the obstacle course at liberty, Jack spent the first several minutes in the corner of the arena near the mirrors, showing that he was fearful in the new environment and was seeking safety with other horses, so he remained near his reflection. Once he was asked by his handler to move through the course at liberty, he was able to complete several of the obstacles. Through observations of Jack during the obstacle course, his behavior was somewhat distrusting, as if he was preparing for things to get uncomfortable, or go wrong. He was not completely checked out, but did show a fear of engaging and a lack of confidence. His behavior showed his need for security and comfort. As the session continued and he received clear communication from his
handler, he showed more of a willingness to connect. The value for Jack during this exercise was being challenged, and gaining confidence by being thrown out of his comfort bubble, and in doing so, learning that not all experiences with new environments/objects/people have to be negative.

Jack’s sensitive side came out even more during the obstacle course in-hand. He was extremely tentative going through all of the obstacles that were asked of him. Although he didn’t spook or start, it was still very apparent that he was fearful, and told his handler this by planting his feet at the edge of each obstacle and resisting forward movement. He only moved forward off of very light and gentle pressure on the halter, and needed lots of shaping and repetition in order to feel comfortable completing an obstacle. He also needed lots of praise, extra care, and encouragement during this process. In watching Jack move through the obstacle course in-hand, it seemed that the
value for him came from learning to trust, and that by being willing to try, he learned he could rely on his handler to not put him in harm’s way.

Jack was eager to approach the scent boxes as soon as they were placed in his run. He was very curious and engaged during this exercise, and showed a side of his personality that we had not seen in either of the obstacle course sessions. He began exploring the eucalyptus scent first, and spent the most time with this box. He first sniffed it, then picked it up in his teeth, then pawed at it until it opened, at which point he briefly explored the scented paper towel. He then moved on to the other boxes, one by one, and tried to open them as well. He picked up the peppermint and swung it around in his mouth. He spent a total of 1 min, 30 sec with the boxes, and although he investigated all of them thoroughly, he spent the most time with eucalyptus and peppermint. After
investigating all of the boxes multiple times, he lost interest and moved toward the other end of the run.

Rosy
Rosy was a very interesting horse to observe during the obstacle course at liberty. Prior to this, when she was observed in her paddock where she was living with several other horses, she appeared to be depressed and withdrawn. It was quite a surprise when she was released into the arena and completely lit up with positive energy, and was behaving as if it were an opportunity to show everyone what she could do. She immediately began running around the arena and investigating all of the obstacles in her path. She looked overjoyed to be there in that space, and was behaving like a completely different horse, exhibiting confidence, comfort and courage. When her handler attempted to drive Rosy away from her (towards an object), she became confused and a little anxious. Once she began running away, it was difficult to get her to slow down, and she began to glaze over. It became very apparent that Rosy is very sensitive to energy, and when her handler began to over-think things, Rosy disconnected. However, as soon as her handler put out a
clear intention of love, Rosy became completely engaged and followed her throughout the entire course. She was willing to move through the obstacles as long as she had that partnership, leadership and guidance. Once she felt that this was attained, she was amicable and giving. The value that Rosy gained from the liberty exercise was excitement, mental stimulation and activity, a platform to express herself, and human connection and loving energy.

During the in-hand obstacle course, Rosy explored her environment in a similar manner. She was a willing partner that moved through most obstacles with ease and fearlessness, accepting her handler as a leader. She needed some shaping during the car wash strip obstacle, which proved to be more difficult for her, but once this was provided, she willingly moved under it, and later through it, without any hesitation. Her value in this exercise was being able to deepen her connection with a human, and gain affection, leadership and confidence.

Rosy did not approach the scent boxes for over a minute after they were placed in her run. When she decided to investigate them, she used her nose and her tongue. She briefly sniffed the boxes one at a time while she was licking her lips, and did not show any preference for a particular scent. She only spent about 5 seconds with the boxes, and then raised her head to watch some people who were walking off in the distance. This was more interesting to her than the scent enrichment. Once she was finished watching the humans, she turned around and left the area where the boxes were to go to the opposite end of her run, and did not return.

Summary
Each of the three horses that participated in this project responded to, and interacted with, the exercises in different ways, and this was very apparent through my observations and those of their handlers. The body language and energy that they displayed and exuded during each of the new environments/situations that they were presented with told a very clear story about what they were thinking and feeling. Some examples of body language indicators that I used to interpret the messages that each horse was conveying include: posture and movements of the entire body, appearance of eyes and ears, how tense/stiff their muscles were, how quickly/slowly they approached an object, whether they actively avoided an object, how much distance they kept between themselves and the object, and themselves and their handler, the amount of time they spent near something, whether they darted through an obstacle or walked slowly, how much time/shaping/repetition was required to get comfortable with an obstacle, which objects were more difficult, which parts of their body they used to explore an object, etc. There are likely an infinite number of examples of this (subtle and dramatic) but these were just a few that I understood, and used to interpret what the horses were thinking and feeling during my observations.

In observing Captain, Jack, and Rosy during the exercises, they began to show us what their individual personality traits were, that each of them was unique, and definitely affected how they interacted with new objects/stimulation, and how they responded to their handlers in both of the obstacle courses. The most interesting part of this project for me, was that we were able to see different parts of their personalities come out depending on the exercise, showing the depth and complexity of each individual. If we had only observed Jack in the context of the two obstacle course exercises, we would characterize him simply as a sensitive, but willing horse who was lacking in confidence and in need of security and a light touch. However, the scent enrichment exercise showed very clearly that he also has a playful, creative, and inquisitive side to him.
Another example of this would be Rosy, and how she behaved during the obstacle course at liberty. When simply observed in her paddock, she appeared very withdrawn, and her behavior completely changed when she was given the opportunity to express herself in the arena and obstacle course. However, she was not particularly moved by the scent enrichment, and was much more drawn to the human activity nearby. Prior to starting the scent enrichment with Captain, I predicted that he would be highly engaged and curious during that exercise, based on his behavior in the obstacle course, and although he did spend some time exploring the scent boxes, he was not nearly as enthusiastic about them as Jack was.

In completing this project, I learned the incredible value in exposing horses to novel stimuli, whether this may be objects, situations, environments, or stimuli targeting a particular sensory modality, as long as it is done in a way that is safe for the horse and handlers. Doing so will not only allow a horse to express themselves and grow as individuals, so that we can learn about their personality and what motivates them as intelligent beings, but also allows us to provide them with optimal care, with consideration for each of them as an individual. I see this as being of great value
to any rescue facility because it could provide important information about the horse that could aid handlers in providing adequate care, and potentially rehabilitation for certain horses with behavioral problems, as well as in matching each horse with the right person for them during the process of adoption.

 

Does Equine Psychology intrigue you? Us too!  If you couldn’t join us for this year’s HHC but want to learn more, sign up for Anna’s newsletter, Diary of a Horse Whisperer, and get access to the insights and tips she shares about the psychology of Equus delivered conveniently to your inbox!

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Discover the Next Generation of Horsemanship at Zuma’s Rescue Ranch on October 29th!

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Annual ROTH Trainer’s Demonstration Event

What is Trust-Based Collaborative Horsemanship?
Find Out and Help Support Zuma’s Rescue Ranch! 
October 29th, 2017
10am – 5pm
Zuma’s Rescue Ranch
7745 N. Moore Rd., Littleton, CO 80125
Discover the Next Generation of Horsemanship!
Join us for a day of trust-based horsemanship and training as graduates of
the Reach Out to Horses Trainers Program demonstrate the effective, powerful,
and groundbreaking methodologies that Anna herself has developed, used, and
taught 
around the world to thousands of horses (and humans).
Meet Our Trainers
We have an eclectic group of folks who can’t wait to give you insights into your horses, true horsemanship, and the communication between horse and human.

They are coming together for this special event. They have all completed an extraordinary journey and we are excited to see them fly as they spread their wings and begin their careers as Reach Out to Horses’ Certified Trainers.  They will introduce you to a world of trust and partnership, and show you what is truly possible in your training, in your relationship with your horse, and in your life.
Best of all you get to spend the entire day with Reach Out to Horses for only $20!

No It’s Not a Typo, Only $20 Dollars!
A full day of horsemanship for only $20 when you preregister, and a mere $25 at the door.  We promise you won’t get this much groundbreaking information for so little anywhere!  And if that wasn’t enough, 100% of the proceeds from the entire day go to the inspiring Zuma’s Rescue Ranch and the incredible work they are doing there to save horses and humans and give them all a second chance at life.
It’s a win, win, win for everybody!

Come see how these inspiring individuals have turned their dreams into reality and discover this unique and effective approach to horsemanship.  Heck, you might even be inspired to embark on your own journey to a whole new life with our equine companions.

Register now and discover what is truly possible for you and your horse!

The Wide Eyes Await: A Reflection on ROTH’s 2017 Colt Starting Course

In a largely oversized and muggy indoor arena, the wide eyes await. They sense our intention. They sense our presence. They sense the start of something big. Some are fresh starts and some are restarts. Either way it is a new beginning, both for the people facilitating the learning and new for the wide eyes alike. What brings us all to this quiet place on the hilltop is life’s inevitable inertia; or rather, our desire to shift and change as we continue on our unique trajectories.  It is the need to be dynamic – ever learning, ever seeking something else, ever seeking wisdom to grow.  What we knew is that some of these wide eyes were already used to moving, that is to say that some were used to moving until an opposing force of some kind moved them backwards, or even sideways, or caused them to halt indefinitely.  Some of them have never moved before at all, and we begin fresh with a clean slate on their behalf, which is an ideal situation.

The people at Colt Starting are similar in this way; some of us were moving and then we hit a block where we got stuck, and perhaps we even got scared.  Some of us are fresh and have never really experienced much moving at all, and maybe that earnest quality will save our hides.  Maybe the ignorance of what can go wrong and not knowing what bone-crushing pain is actually keeps us safer than others because we can manage our congruencey more adeptly, and we aren’t focused on the negative possibilities.  Either way this is no easy task to learn to gently move the previously unmoved, and for some, the still unwilling to move, but fortunately for our Colt Starting course we have an ace in the hole; her name is Miss Anna Twinney.

Anna’s primary focus is to keep us all safe, horses included.  She is not a babysitter and she will not simply do it for us.  She is a collaborator, a facilitator, and a developer of souls, techniques, and ideals.  Anna will look into us and ask what we are feeling. When we can’t decide on an answer, or if we answer dishonestly, she’ll look us over and purse her lips as she squints a little and then she’ll ask us again.  It’s important to know these things, for us, for her, AND for the horse.  It’s important because the horse is a reflection of our energy and our emotions at any given time. If we don’t know what we are feeling it makes a muddied water for the horse that makes it more challenging for them to succeed.  When we are starting or restarting colts and horses there is no more unsafe and unfair way to proceed.

It’s most important to be in touch with feelings because it’s the difference between a reaction and a response, a cloudy cue and a clear communication, and a partnership vs. a dictatorship.  It’s how Anna knows if we are ready to do the hard things: to look at ourselves, to be honest about our capabilities and our intention, and to know if we are ready to ground ourselves and focus on the work at hand.  Knowing how we are feeling is the basis of all this work, and most significantly, it’s how Anna helps us help the horses.  Therefore, to be confused, in denial, or unwilling to be honest with ourselves or with others, that is the cardinal sin of Natural Horsemanship. It’s a problem because it hinders our awareness and it causes an imbalance the horse can feel.  It causes us to become misaligned with the truth of things, and hence the truth of our own reality, of which the horse is an integral part.  We can’t very well move a horse who exists in the truth of a present reality when we are in the falsehood of our own illusions or past misconceptions.  Some horses are much more forgiving than others, of course, but most of those who are totally forgiving are called “therapy horses.” They are there to help the human begin to understand the truth of their alignment and awareness, or lack thereof. These are not those kinds of horses just yet. These wide eyes are looking to us to be the leaders, the truth tellers, to assure them we have their back and their best interest and safety at heart.  These wide eyes need clear, soft eyes who can show them what a kind, congruent leader and human looks like.

The trick in all of this is not just getting the horse to do what we want them to do.  The trick is in allowing them to see they have options and choices in their growth process and helping them to feel safe with us. All the while we are showing them we are capable of leading them well. Then, when they want to follow us and they trust us to make good decisions, we can co-create a life of endless adventure with them. A life where we always learn about one another and one in which growth and creativity are cultivated and not smothered like an unwanted flame.  This is the foundation work for all future horse-human relationships.  If we rush the horse into a panic, we fail.  If we allow three experiences in which the horse develops a behavioral issue, we have created one where none previously existed.  If we are not present and aware, we could get hurt or killed, or get someone else hurt or killed.  This colt starting is serious stuff, but there are benefits that go beyond words in this experience.  There are changes to our hearts, minds, and souls that only observers of subtlety can detect and appreciate, and that is where the gold lies.

Early mornings, late nights, and summer heat aside, one by one, day by day, we worked in comfort.  The comfort of good company, that is.  We worked alongside our partners and buddies, both human and equine.  We shared a growth experience with like-minded individuals who were the most willing group of people I have ever met.  If something was needed, all we had to do was ask and people jumped left and right to pitch in.  We worked together on softening, slowing down the mind, being wholly present and aware during the work, being equally responsive in thanking the horse for their try, learning the silent language, using our body language effectively, understanding what we can tell from the eyes, and discovering how we can similarly use our eyes, weight, and breath to share our requests, our intentions and to offer reward.  We shaped the lessons for the horses so as not to overwhelm them, but to help them learn to cope with discomfort and to experience success as they learned to trust us to add pressure to their lives.  We helped each other with suggestions, epiphanies, and in great and lengthy periods of varied experimentation.  Just as with people, every horse is different and what works with one may not work with another.  We were fortunate to find those who were willing to give us ideas, to help us problem solve, and to offer solutions and comfort when we feared we had exhausted our options, our patience, and our efforts.  Truly a lasting bond was formed and the camaraderie of colt starting developed and lingered like a silent partner, waiting in the byways and walls of the arena, always there with a smile and a pat on the back, reassuring us we had given it our all and done a good job.

In a very early impression it felt like the success of a week of starting colts would be measured by the number of colts under saddle on the final day.  This was such a misconception.  That is not to say that we didn’t have amazing numbers as result of all the hard work because each colt was saddled by the end of the week and all but three, I believe, had been ridden.  Rather, the measure of a good colt starting course is in the daily experiences;  it’s in every obstacle on the obstacle course we can finally cross and in the joy that comes from approaching a wide-eyed one and watching them turn into a soft-eyed one around things that were of tremendous concern at the beginning of the week.  The success is found in the round pen, in reaching out, and in creating the contract.  It’s in the close connection, the love lessons, and the successful breakaways.  It’s in the liberty work, and in the long lines that we might never have thought we could use on a particular horse.  It’s in each girth tightened, and each saddle pad that finds its way onto the horse’s back, and in the stirrups that clang and bounce against the horse’s side as he forgets they are there and focuses on the communication and direction of the human instead.  It’s in every parachute dragged, every dummy draped and slung, and every noodle and flag wiggled and waved throughout the week.  It’s in every head drop, every deep breath and sigh, and every lick and chew.  It’s in every eye that was once distant, hard and wide, that now is only soft and presently attentive.  It’s in every curious exploration of an obstacle or a pocket, every smile, and definitely in every laugh of this process.

Colt Starting was not about the end result at all – not about the product, not about the final polish.  Instead, it was about the safe opportunity for some to start over and to learn to trust again, and for some to just be started gently and effectively so they will never have to be restarted ever again.  It was about affording us a space, an environment where learning could take place, and where ideas could be safely shared and exchanged.  Colt Starting was truly about the start of the possibilities of each individual there, and to see that there is limitless potential that can be tapped in all of us, despite our somewhat active resistance to that process.  It was about opening up to trust-based leadership and compassionate communication, or TLC, as Anna calls it.  It was all about the beginning and the journey to the next beginning, which starts now for each and every one of us.

The success of Colt Starting is also in the future of the horses whose lives we may now touch on any level.  Sometimes we will only be able to offer a compassionate sigh and knowing glance when we see that they are frustrated or confused.  If we are fortunate, we will have our hands on to help gentle them to saddling ourselves, applying all that we learned over the course.  It’s in the potential of each observer who might see us doing something differently, with compassion, and think to themselves, “I need to ask them how they do that so gently and with such patience, and how I can learn that too.”  It’s in every connection with every horse in our futures, and their people, as we become the ROTH mission at work in our daily lives.  It’s alive in each and every instance where the human mind entertains the thought, “maybe there is a better way.”  I had that thought and after much exploration, I can assure you, there IS a better way: the ROTH way.

They said colts was the most difficult course that Anna teaches, and I could see why that might be the case.  We are taking big steps with horses who may have some negative programming already in place about the process, and who may or may not react, possibly even violently.  But after watching pair after pair succeed in achieving their daily goals, I was encouraged that it was not quite as trying as I had perceived it might have been.  I was lucky to have my gelding there, who had been ridden before, but after an accident we had backtracked quite a bit.  So my experience was much tempered compared to those who were truly starting a horse for the first time.  Still, the challenges are only where we perceive them to be, and I perceive that this course was a wild and total success for each and every student and horse who attended.

 

It is with good reflection upon this recent experience, and in preparation for the long journey to all of the next beginnings, that I note one most important piece of practice that struck me, in particular, and that I need to apply hourly:  that is to relax and to smile, because if I am not smiling, I am not breathing.  To all the people who helped me smile or laugh along the way, my gratitude to you.  Here’s to the limitless beginnings and starts, to a future of moving, to the potential of us all, and to the glorious necessity of breathing.

To a mentor and boss who shows me that only I can limit my true potential, and to her husband who is there for me when I need to share silly things and ask about life’s difficult questions, my deepest gratitude to you both for putting up with my growth spurts.  Your eternal patience with me is most appreciated.  All my love to you both for the sacrifices you make on a daily basis on behalf of the mission and the animals.  There are no two like either of you anywhere in the world.  May you always find the energy to shine on, ROTH style.

All my love,

Lacey Knight

ROTH Admin

Colts

ROTH’s 2017 Colt Starting Crew at Zuma’s Rescue Ranch in Littleton, CO

 

The Wonder of the Wild Ones: Highlights from the Untouched Horse Course

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Wild horses have taken me across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, China, and back to where it all began in California, in discovery of their wisdom.  They are the Wikipedia of the silent language of horses.  They are the master teachers.  They teach us the intricacies of collaboration and an in-depth dialogue.  They teach us the truth about ourselves.  They take horsemanship to the greatest depths and greatest heights, allowing you to become the best you can be.  I am honored to have been invited to the Wild Horse Sanctuary, in Shingletown, California, in support of their mission and am proud to become part of their horse gentling team.  
 

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Do you want to watch our sessions?  Anna live streams on her courses to bring the world along with on the journey!  Follow the link below to videos from this year’s Untouched Horse Course.

Watch ROTH Certified Trainer, Sarah Lockwood on course!

A Bit of Fun at Day’s End

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Anna spent a week August at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, CA, sharing the methods and the wisdom behind developing trust and a bond with the wild ones.  Students were each assigned a wild horse with whom to spend the week and with whom to develop the partnership that is so necessary in safely gentling wild horses.

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Sharing space – a profound moment of connection!

We can share space with one another through “being” and not “doing”, through meditation and through a practice of animal communication. We can remove all agendas and intentions allowing the flow of a conversation to foster a partnership built on the horse’s rituals, built on mutual trust. One which takes out the pressure, allows for reading of the horse’s energy, language, personality, and individual learning. This is not bribery. It is a magical experience for us to blend our energies becoming one, which naturally brings forth a bonding time. It’s the foundation and introduction to pave the way for our relationship.

 

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Sitting silently we watch the horses and come to understand the ROTH way;  a way based on the true nature of the horse.  Many watch but few see.  Through education, a keen eye, and in-depth understanding, Anna interprets the horses’ communication and dynamics, explaining how she bridges the gap in the gentling, and incorporates the whole horse within the methodologies.

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What we can learn from the horses themselves is truly invaluable!  We learn to be receptive to what they can teach us about how to be effective communicators in a language that they understand.

Do you want to be included in next year’s mustang course?  Or do you simply want to stay up to date on all Anna shares about her journeys, including the tips and horsemanship help that can be found in her videos and live streams?  Join our newsletter, Diary of a Horse Whisperer, and let everything come to you in a neatly packaged, bimonthly email!

The signup link is here: http://www.reachouttohorses.com/contact/register.php

 

What can Dyna Spark do for you? Listen in!

This Dynamite Conference Call is hosted by Dynamite CEO, Callie Zamzow, featuring special guests, Gold Directors, Judy Sinner and Regan Golob. On this call we learn about electrolytes and the role they play in our bodies and more specifically how Dynamite Dyna Spark can help support your animal’s electrolyte needs.

 

 

Want to discover what is special about the Dynamite way of life?  Visit Anna’s Dynamite page and learn about all the ways Dynamite can support you and your loved ones!

Go here for more! https://dynamitespecialty.myvoffice.com/atwinney/

Do you crave instant access to all the goods?  Want to know more about supplements, courses, natural horsemanship, animal communication, Reiki energy healing and more?  Sign up for our newsletter, Diary of a Horse Whisperer, and get everything delivered conveniently to your inbox! Sign up here: http://www.reachouttohorses.com/contact/register.php

 

 

Sharing Projects From our Stellar HHC! Equine Massage – an in-depth look…

 

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Our own 2017 HHC students, Gretchen H. and Heather H. of CO, chose to do a thorough investigation of Equine Massage Therapy.  We invite you to peruse their material and find all the necessary research done in advance!

WHAT?

Equine massage therapy is the assessment of the soft tissues and joints and the treatment or prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissues and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate, or augment physical function and or relieve pain.

Equine massage therapists manipulate the soft tissues of the body (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and skin) through the application of varying degrees of pressure and movement.Massage therapy may include many techniques such as Swedish massage, sports massage, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, acupressure, and other bodywork approaches. The type of massage given typically depends on the horse’s needs & condition as well as the therapist’s training.When massage is used in conjunction with chiropractic and/or acupuncture and/or acupressure the benefits are increased.

Equine massage therapy is not a substitute for veterinary care.
The growing use of complementary therapies alongside conventional veterinary medicine represents a shift towards a more integrative approach to equine health care. The goal is to combine the best of both worlds, while considering all aspects of an animal’s health in their management.

Why?

Physical benefits of equine massage
• Aid in recovery from injury & reduce the chance from future injury (preventative therapy)
• Pain relief: it can be used to cause the body to release endorphins, which aide in pain relief & a sense of well-being
• Relief from restlessness and sleep disturbances
• Improved propioception (sense of the orientation of one’s limbs in space)
• More efficient movement
• Improved recovery time from workouts
• Improved posture, circulation, hair coat, & muscle tone
• Increased flexibility and range of motion
• Immune system support
• Injury prevention

Emotional benefits of equine massage:
• Improve overall disposition
• Increased sense of wellness
• Help relieve anxiety & aid in relaxation
• Promotes general sense of calming & reduction of stress
• Stress relief:help calm nervous horses or horses in unfamiliar surroundings and/or stressful conditions.

Physiological effects of massage (NBCAAM*)
• Increases circulation of blood and other body fluids
• Releases endorphins (natural pain killers)
• Increases the excretion of toxins
• Relaxes muscle spasms/relieves tension
• Alleviates stiffness and restores mobility to injured tissues
• Prevents injuries and loss of mobility in potential trouble spots
• Increases range of motion
• Enhances muscle tone
• Increases flow of nutrients to muscles
• Reduces inflammation and swelling
• Lowers blood pressure
• Improves animal’s disposition
• Increases athletic performance
• Increases endurance
• Maintains overall physical condition

When?

The following symptoms can be signs that your horse is suffering from restricting muscular stiffness, painful muscle spasms, soft tissue adhesions or soreness:
• Limited range of motion, not fully engaging limbs, not stepping under, not extending
• Refusal to take a lead
• Unwilling to change gaits
• Horse hollows the back
• Horse throws head up during gait changes
• Horse looks ‘disconnected’ (hind and front not moving in unison)
• Bucking or crow hopping
• Not relaxing or rounding etc.

Symptoms that may indicate your hose would benefit from massage therapy:
• Irritable or bad disposition
• Head tossing
• Unexplained lameness
• Lead problems
• Shortened strides
• Loss of performance ability
• Head & neck discomfort
• Improper tracking
• Resistance to training
• Girthing or ‘cold back’ problems

How long before you see improvement?
Many horses show improvement with just one massage session. But each horse is different and depending on the issues at hand, may need several treatments before significant changes are observed.

Regular maintenance massage is a powerful preventative measure and a good way to help keep your horse healthy. Recommended maintenance regimen:
• To maintain the average horse in good condition, two sessions per month.
• For working horses weekly sessions to maintain optimum performance and recovery from workouts.

A horse that is massaged on a regular basis is less likely to develop painful muscle spasms, restrictions in soft tissue and effected joints and resulting performance limitations.

DO NOT massage if (NBCAAM)*:
• Horse is in shock: shock lowers blood pressure; massage lowers even more
• Horse has fever: fever is body’s way to fight infection; massage could elevate fever
• Horse has cancer: massage could spread the condition (get approval from veterinarian   first)
• Horse has open wounds: do not massage these areas
• Horse has torn muscles, tendon, ligaments: massage only after veterinary approval due to increased risk of inducing bleeding
• Horse has skin problems like ringworm: massage could cause it to spread
• Acute stages of diseases (i.e., equine influenza)

Who?

What to look for in choosing your equine massage therapist:
• Are they certified?
• How long did they study and where?
• Do they have good knowledge of anatomical form and function?
• Do they have good horse handling skills?
• Are they supported by other Equine Care Professionals?
• What results are expected from a course of treatments?
The effectiveness of the equine massage therapy is dependent upon:
• Correct evaluation
• Use of proper techniques
• Skill level and experience of the practitioner

How?

Equine Massage: A Practical Guide (Howell Equestrian Library)by Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt.
The Basic Principles of Equine Massage/Muscle Therapy, Equine Massage, Horse Massage Paperback by Equine Therapist Mike Scott.
Videos on youtube.com, horsechannel.com, & other sites

ROTH DVD In Partnership with Horses includes an equine massage therapy demonstration from Ronald Bouchard of Equissage. He offers these three tips:
1. Observe your horse. Pay attention to what your horse is trying to tell you and listen to your horse. A change in performance and/or behavior may be because something hurts.
2. Regularly check your horses back, especially where the saddle sits.
3. Make sure your horse is happy before beginning (i.e., a trail ride, competition, work, etc.) and as needed use massage to relax the horse before starting.
http://www.equissage-ne-ny.com/index.html

Case studies http://www.equissage-ne-ny.com/cases.html

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For reference:

*National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage (NBCAAM) purpose is to establish and uphold professional standards for animal acupressure and massage practitioners. http://www.nbcaam.org/

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Scope of Practice: Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine (CAVM) and other practice act exemptions
https://www.avma.org/Advocacy/StateAndLocal/Pages/sr-cavm-exemptions.aspx

COLORADO Animal massage – any person may perform massage on an animal if the person does not prescribe drugs, perform surgery, or diagnose medical conditions and has earned a degree or certificate in animal massage from an approved school.

 

Thanks, Gretchen and Heather, for choosing such a great topic on behalf of educating others in support of their horses!

HHC 1 2017

Photo of our 2017 HHC Part 1 students!

 

 

 

 

The 2017 HHC Journeys to the Crystal Show in Denver, CO!

Holistic Health Support and Healing are a signature part of the HHC, and ROTH was fortunate this year that one of the largest crystal shows in the US coincided with the course.  Some of our students chose to do their presentation on several crystals that spoke to them on a spiritual level.  Below is a list of the crystals and some of the more prominent aspects and healing properties associated with each.

Which crystals speak to you spiritually?  Have you used crystals before on either horses or yourself?  If so, which ones and what was your experience?  Feel free to share your comments on our Facebook page that accompanies this post!

 

Apophyllite

Apophyllite

Keywords: Spiritual Connection and Meditation

A crystal of facilitating and strengthening consciousness. Apophyllite brings high energy to mystical and other endeavors.  When placed on the third-eye chakra, it can help one see the truth for use in spiritual growth and connection.

Mental and Emotional Health– It is used to help one see the truth and then act on it.  It assists one in an ability to see and comprehend their own behaviors and attitudes that fearful avoidance may have kept hidden.  With the new self-awareness, one can find a way to move forward in both their practical life and spirituality.

 

Amethyst

Amethyst

Keywords: Psychic and Sobriety

Amethyst is a meditative and calming stone that works on the emotional, spiritual, and physical areas to promote calm, balance, and peace.  It is used to eliminate impatience.  It can increase spirituality and enhance intuition and psychic powers.

Mental and Emotional Health– It is used to help heal personal losses and grief.  It has a gentle energy that can promote peacefulness, happiness and contentment.  It brings emotional stability and inner strength to be strong in one’s life, enhancing flexibility and cooperation.

 

Cobaltian CalciteCobaltian Calcite

Keywords: Healing the heart, harmony and friendship

Cobaltian Calcite is a crystal of joy.  It is excellent for use with the heart chakra and can aid in releasing buried emotions.  It is uplifting and will encourage us to think positively and let go of the negative feelings onto which one may be holding.

Mental and Emotional Health– It can give one an enhanced awareness of one’s own body language and brings increased harmony to people or groups working with each other.  It also helps to form friendships and may facilitate in raising consciousness.

 

Fluorite

fluorite

Fluorite is a highly protective and stabilizing stone, useful for grounding and harmonizing spiritual energy.  When working with the upper Chakras, Fluorite increases intuitive abilities, links the human mind to universal consciousness, and develops connection to Spirit.  Fluorite further anchors intuitive insights into the physical plane, allowing mental and physical coordination.  A popular stone among energy healers, Fluorite can also clear the aura of mucky energies.

Physical Health- Physically, Fluorite is known to strengthen bones and teeth, and ameliorate the pain associated with arthritis.  Fluorite is also used to enhance mental functions by balancing the chemistry in the brain.

 

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz

 

Rose Quartz has a pink hue due to several minerals including manganese and titanium. Physical features: known as a heart and circulatory tonic, and it improves circulation.

Physical Health-  Best for injuries and wounds but will also reduce stress.  Very good as a water stone.  It promotes the balance of all bodily functions especially when combined with amethyst and rock crystal.

 

Moon Stone

Moon stone

Moon Stone is a stone of protection, especially during childbirth, pregnancy, and travel at sea. It is a stone of calm and relief from emotional stress. It is also associated with love of all kinds.

Physical Health– Physically, Moon Stone is used in crystal healing to aid the pituitary gland and digestive system, obesity,  water retention, hormonal problems, and menstrual problems.

 

Black Tourmaline

black tourmaline

Black Tourmaline- Black Tourmaline keeps an electric charge, as it is pyroelectric (meaning it can generate electricity when heated), as well as piezoelectric (meaning it can store an electrical charge), causing it to release negative ions and far infrared radiation – these are very beneficial for health. This incredible stone is associated with protection, grounding, health, happiness, luck, and positivity.

Spiritual- Considered to be one of the most powerful protective stones. Heals on all levels- physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

 

Labradoritelabradorite

Labradorite- A stone of transformation, Labradorite is a useful companion through change, imparting strength and perseverance. It balances and protects the aura, raises consciousness and grounds spiritual energies. Excellent for strengthening intuition and promoting psychic abilities.

Spiritual- Stone of transformation. Grounds spiritual energies and grounds and protects the aura.

 

Smokey Quartz

smokey quartz

Smokey Quartz– In addition to the generic healing properties of Quartz, Smokey Quartz is an excellent grounding stone. It gently neutralizes negative vibrations and is detoxifying on all levels, prompting elimination of the digestive system and protecting against radiation and electromagnetic smog.

Spiritual- Grounding and neutralizes negative vibrations.

 

 

The Equine Chakras

 

 

a_Horse_Chakras_Pic for BLOG 3

 

This presentation belongs to ROTH’s own Shantel S. of the UK, and Gina K., Laura Z., and Kate F. of CO.  Thanks, ladies, for sharing your work with us to help educate and inspire others!

HHC 1 2017

Photo of our own 2017 HHC students on trailer loading day!