So finally, I find myself starting my module 4 assignment. Yes a little delayed in getting the ball rolling I know, but I’ve been having flashbacks to when I was trying to finish my Masters degree and run a clinic at the same time- boy it’s NOT easy!
My business and clinic have been manic lately. I really can’t complain though, as I’ve loved it! But it has meant my foot has drifted from the gas in the quest to complete my last assignment. Nonetheless, I thought for accountability and the steps in starting the module I’ll outline why it’ll entail and the plan I have going forward.
Once complete, I’ve booked my final practical day with the last hour being exam based- I’m very nervous but fingers crossed I should be done before the end of July!
So module 4 entails the need for two case studies, that’s two horses that receive a full body treatment from head to toe… anyone jealous of Bella & Mojo? I know I am!
During the module I will observe the horses standing, seeing if their tuber sacrales are level and seeing what their preferred resting stance is. The dynamic assessment means watching both horses walk & trot both away from me and towards me. I then watch the horse circle around the handler/owner looking for coordination, neck bend, hindleg crossing over the midline and stride length. The reinback should appear easy and relaxed with even steps and an evident lift and place seen through all legs.
After this, I will then begin a whole body stroking and effleurage routine. This allows the horse to get use to my touch using light rhythmical movements. During this process the soft tissue is warming up and an increase in blood flow is occurring as well as allowing me to spot any sort of lumps or bumps that could be a concern or raise the question of a contraindication. Now as a horsey person myself, we all know that many horses can develop the odd lump here and there and this can cause them no issue at all. This is where having the owner nearby to ask the questions ‘is this normal for the horse, or has this always been here and painless?’ is hugely advantageous.
While completing this I’ll be asking the owner ‘does your horse seem well in itself? Are you concerned or noticing anything out of character? Has the horse had body work before? When was their saddle last check? When was the dentist last out? How often are they being shod/trimmed and when is their next appointment? All these questions help build a lovely little subjective history of the horse and enables us as therapists to paint a picture of the horses we are working with.
Depending on what is found with the effleurage and how the horse responds this will dictate where treatment starts. Sometimes it can be a first instinct that when a horse gives you feedback of soreness or pain in an area that’s the place to begin treatment. However, sometimes, this can work against us whereby the horse is already on the defence and tense with what you are trying to do. This can be counterproductive for treatment and result in the horse presenting with more issues than when you started.
Instead, going for an area where the horse felt comfortable and happy with your touch is a great way to build confidence and a relationship while moving to areas that are holding more tightness later in the treatment.
With that in mind, below may not be the order of treatment, however, typically a massage routine would look something like this;
Rhomboids > squeezing, wringing, jostling, palmar hand circles
Splenius > palmar hand circles, rolling, trigger, cross fibre friction (CFF)
Serratus Ventralis Cervical (SVC) > CFF
Brachiocephalicus > squeezing, jostling, glides
Sternomadibular > squeezing, jostling
Biceps Brachii and Pecs > kneading, strokes over descending and ascending pecs
Trapezius (withers and shoulder) > planning, CFF, scap hacking
Shoulder release > C7-T1 subclavian pull
Deltoid > compression, cupping, CFF
Triceps > sideways beating
Legs > upward strokes, circles, abduction, protraction, retraction
Serratus Ventralis Thoracis (SVT) > compression, CFF
Fascia Release > light strokes
Back > palpation, palmar hand circles, planning, CFF, cupping/pounding
Intercostals (between rib spaces) > between ribs, CFF in the line of the muscle
Psoas attachments > bilateral hand pressure inwards, CFF towards tuber coxae
Belly lift (if tolerable)
Gluteals > deep planning, tuber coxae bounce, CFF, hacking/cupping/pounding
Hamstrings > palmar hand circles, stripping of semimem & semiten
Tensor Fascia Latea (TFL) > picking up, kneading
Legs > upward stokes
Tail pull stretch
Please head over to my Instagram @injuryrecoverycentreequine for videos on all the above routines if you wanted to add a visual to the descriptions.
On completion a full report will be drawn up for both horses outlining, areas that were fine, and areas that were the focus within treatment and justifying why I performed the routines I did. I’ll then detail the homework I would give to the owner in order to continue emphasising the release work undertaken in the session. This is commonly done through carrot stretches (await the next blog for more details!)
A final few paragraphs as a summery will complete my module 4 assignment. Luckily because I work closely with my lecturer I can send in short snippet videos and some images as she has seen me work in person so knows my ability.
I’m really looking forward to completing this last part of my qualification and hope that in July I can bring you all some good news!
Until then, take care and enjoy the sunshine with your horses!
BSc Hons Sports Therapy MSST
MSc Strength and Conditioning
Student Wolds Equine Sports Massage & Rehabilitation Therapist