This article was written by
Heather Ledbetter, Owner/therapist at Safe and Sound Equine Bodywork!
I guess I’ll just come right out and say it- I’m one of those annoying people that does yoga. The reason that I’m bringing this up is because it has actually been a serious benefit to me where my horsemanship and career as an equine massage therapist is concerned. No, it isn’t because it helps increase flexibility or strengthens my core for riding, or that it makes me more one with the universe (insert chakra alignment joke here). It’s much simpler than that. It taught me how to really quiet myself from the inside out, which I think is critical when working with horses.
Why is this so important when it comes to horses? Horses have this amazing ability to read body language, and believe it or not, they can even tell when your heart rate increases or breathing pattern changes (prey animals are awesome that way). As a result, they feed heavily off of what they interpret your intentions or mood to be. If you aren’t feeling 100% confident, the horse will likely not feel 100% confident. If you’re feeling a little frustrated, the horse will likely become frustrated. See where I’m going with this?
When I’m working with a horse, whether it’s getting ready to ride or getting ready to do bodywork on them, the first thing I have to do is check in with my own body. Is my heart rate normal or fast? Am I holding my breath? These things will very often affect my interaction with that horse.
Aside from being a great Robert Redford flick, a “Horse Whisperer” is really just a person who has mastered the art of controlling their body language while communicating to a horse. A relaxed person will more often than not translate to a relaxed horse. We all know that a relaxed horse is going to be a much more willing partner. So, next time you’re feeling like the horse you’re working with is antsy or uncooperative, check in with your own body. Ask yourself how you’re feeling. If you feel like your heart rate is up, take a minute to breathe. Nice, slow inhales and exhales will help you return to a normal heart rate. Holding your breath? STOP IT! Remember how sensitive horses actually are to us and know that when you are calm and relaxed, they can become calm and relaxed too.
Heather Ledbetter is the owner of Safe and Sound Equine Bodywork. She is certified as an equine massage therapist through the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage, and though she is based in Aurora, CO, she travels to areas such as Denver, Parker, and Littleton to do bodywork sessions. Not sure if she’ll come to your area? Just ask!
Each equine massage session is $45, with the length varying depending on your horse’s needs.
Contact Heather today to schedule a bodywork session!