By Rita Thompson-Tinsley

What better time to focus on the physical needs of your horse now that “Sparky” is a year older and either over ridden or sitting longer periods. He is certainly worth evaluating and scheduling a serious “tune up” so here are some helpful therapies to ponder.

Christy Garavetto went to school to learn massage therapy. She also had veterinary assistant schooling. Intertwining knowledge from the two sciences, she developed a special technique called Interactive Equine Bodywork.

Christy combines acupressure along with trigger point, Swedish massage, deep tissue work, stretching, myofascial release plus lighter work that releases the facial bones. She customizes sessions to each horse’s needs and spends time with owners helping them to understand how to work with their horse.

Christy’s methods prove beneficial in the horse’s performance, standing for the farrier or vet, recovering from injuries, and overcoming what some have assumed was an ‘attitude problem’. The objective for Christy is to translate the way a horse lets her know the right modality they need to release tension and the right pressure to relax and reset muscle memory. All of this takes interaction.

Many are not aware there is such a thing as chiropractic for horses. Many are grateful that it exists, along with the benefits it brings to our hard working mounts. Christina McCarty’s horse HotShot began “acting out, kicking out, pinning ears, almost bucking”, she claims. His actions seemed behavioral but it became obvious he was in pain. She was referred to Dr. Diane Carlson of Core Chiropractic whose ‘human’ office is in Sedona.

Having spent a good part of her youth in the equestrian realm, Dr. Diane has learned humans, horses and other species inside and out. She explains, “The basic core of chiropractic is the intimate relationship between spinal column and nervous system.” Her job is to “realign the vertebrae with an adjustment (by hand or tool) and allow the body’s natural innate intelligence to restore balance and homeostasis.”

In careful examination of McCarty’s riding history, it was revealed that she had received an ankle injury that, in turn, lead to an unbalanced seat in the saddle. As she over compensated, she was unknowingly throwing off the back of her horse. Carlson assessed HotShot and made the necessary adjustment. Three days later, after thirty minutes of saddle time, McCarty was singing the praises of chiropractic.

Dr. Diane was called to Phoenix to examine an AQHA race horse. The trainer explained that the normally impeccable 5-year-old was ‘off’ and behaving unusually. Because of his enormous size and spooky reactions, he was a difficult patient indeed.

Midway through pelvic alignment, Dr. Diane observed his attitude changing. His eyes were softening and head lowering in a relaxed manner. She was having a very difficult time adjusting his poll. He wrestled with her. Finally, when completed, the horse did something truly unexpected. His head extended around her hugging her with his neck and head. An amazing moment those close by were to witness. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to get a real thanks after a hard day’s work.

Most of my articles focus on the equine. It’s time now to focus on the equestrian.

Erika Robert’s life has been an enriched mixture of horsemanship and fitness to the highest degree. Raised on a 160 acre ranch in SW Colorado, Roberts began what was to be a life long journey with horses. She learned from great trainers, competed and mastered many riding disciplines. She spent time teaching horsemanship, starting horses and riding horses for others. Fast-forward to 2015 when Erika decided to pursue personal fitness training.

Having grown up in an athletic family, regular activities included triathlons, mountain biking and skiing. Roberts also competed in body building. With this extensive accumulation of horse knowledge and physicality focus, she has managed to integrate the two in a way that will benefit both rider and horse.

As a Life and Fitness Coach, Erika is both IPEC trained and ICF acredited. She helps her clients by first assessing the issues, observing horse and rider, then designing a fitness program that helps each individual, making riding more comfortable and pain free. Roberts does group training, but her equestrian clients are generally one-on-one. She has made great strides in riding comforts and the dynamics involved. Strength and conditioning. Building your core.

She comments, “You put your horse on a training regimen. Think of how YOU would greatly benefit with fitness training designed exclusively for riding.”