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Equine massage can enhance performance

Gayle Smith
Gering, Neb.
Tabatha Long of Albin, Wyo., moves her hand over the horse's spine to diagnose trouble spots.

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Students attending a recent equine massage school learned how to enhance the performance of their horses and make them feel better.

The three-day equine massage school was held at the Dawes County Fairgrounds in Chadron, Neb., in August. The school was the first of two that will be held in the community. While the first session taught students basic massage techniques, the students will return the first weekend in October to learn about more difficult problems horses can experience and how to help alleviate their pain.

The clinic was attended by students in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Oklahoma. Instructors Jan Scott of Fort Collins, Colo., and Barb Page of Laramie, Wyo., aim to teach the students how to evaluate their horse’s soreness and alleviate the pain with massage, thus enhancing their performance and quality of life.

“Our optimum goal is to see our students develop a whole new relationship with their horses,” Scott said. “We want to teach people how to identify soreness and take care of their horses. When they finish our program, we want them to go away feeling confident and capable of performing a complete equine massage on their horses.”

Scott learned the techniques they use from respected massage therapist Buster Harlow, who lived in Gillette, Wyo., Harlow practiced physical therapy and massage with an appreciation of pain relief after having broken his back when he was young.

Although Harlow worked with humans, he became interested in working with horses after watching them perform and realizing the pain they must endure to do their jobs. Harlow started working on massage methods for horses by consulting with veterinarians and other massage professionals. Through his research, he developed a core massage program that Scott and Page are carrying on today through their company, Sport Horse Therapeutic Equine Massage.

Scott said she became interested in equine massage because of one of her own horses. “I had an old mare who had been through three kids in 4-H and through rodeo,” she explained. “Because of all this, she had developed some problems and was in a lot of pain. I wanted to help her and figured it was the least I could do after my vet had done all that was reasonable. Jerry Gaddis, also a student of Harlow, gave her a massage and it made a remarkable difference in her.”

Scott continued, “When I had the opportunity to learn from Buster, I went. He passed away about two years ago, but we still have people ask if we do what Buster did. He had a tremendous following. We worked with Buster, and when his health failed, we carried on. We’ve expanded and built upon Buster’s original program with our experience.”

Scott said she and Page try to hold clinics in the fall and spring and pick locations where there are a cluster of people wanting to learn. “We try to hold our clinics where the people are so they can bring in their own horses and learn how to work on them without taking vacation time or traveling long distances. Our goal is to teach people how to take care of their horse so that pain isn’t misunderstood as disobedience, to enhance performance, and the human equine relationship,” she explained.

A large variety of people attend the clinics. Scott said they have had veterinarians and vet techs, but generally have ranchers, people who rodeo and people who compete with performance horses. “Generally, the people who want to learn equine massage are people who are trying to help their horses perform better and have a comfortable living. There is no point paying entry fees and buying gasoline if your horse isn’t in top shape for the event,” Scott said.

Tabatha Long of Albin, Wyo., attended the equine massage program to improve her horse’s health and her own overall knowledge of her horse. Long, who competes in barrel racing, has taken her horses to chiropractors and massage therapists in the past and found it to not be very cost-effective. “I am here because I love this and I really want to learn how to do it. I want my horses to have the most positive experience they can every time they run,” she explained.

For Pam Pierce of Windsor, Colo.,, it was the intrigue of learning how to make her own horses feel better that led her to attend the program. “They gave a free clinic in May at Lusk and I found it really intriguing, so I came here hoping to learn more.”

Pierce said she has a horse at home with some chronic issues she hopes can be helped through massage. “I have a horse who could really use this,” she said. “I am planning to bring him to the advanced clinic in hopes he can be helped. It would be nice to be able to make him feel better without spending a fortune,” she added.

Pierce said she also likes how the program addresses the total picture. “We get the whole picture here from nutrition to horse care,” she said.

Scott said during the school, they address the four primary causes of soreness in horses – saddle fit, foot care, nutrition and condition. During the school, the instructors spend time in the classroom discussing each of these issues and how they fit into keeping the horse in top form. They also demonstrate in the arena so students understand how to properly fit their saddle and take care of their horse’s feet.

Sandie Azinger of Hot Springs, S.D., learned that her saddle didn’t properly fit one of her horses. “I am anxious for the saddle segment,” she said. “I want to learn how to select what saddle I need to fit my horse correctly.”

Azinger, who competes in cutting horse events, was interested in equine massage to help her cutting horse. “I have one that has won over $50,000 and I feel like I owe her,” Azinger said. “When she hurts, I don’t know how to help her. This clinic is a good thing. They teach the whole program here from saddle fitting to feet to nutrition. My mare gives me 110 percent effort all the time. I want to be able to take great care of her,” she said.

Scott said once students learn the technique, they can give a horse a massage in about an hour to an hour and a half. “You have to be reasonably strong to give an equine massage,” Scott said, “but we teach you how to use your body so it doesn’t take a lot out of you. Most any age is capable to giving a horse a massage.”

Scott said she doesn’t recommend to her students giving more than three massages a day. “The horses can really benefit from a massage,” Scott explained. “It increases their flexibility, gives them pain relief, and enhances their performance. Like an athlete in the Olympics, you have to work out those sore muscles if you are going to excel at today’s performance levels.”

For more information on their program, their website is http://www.sporthorsemassage.com.

Students attending a recent equine massage school learned how to enhance the performance of their horses and make them feel better.

The three-day equine massage school was held at the Dawes County Fairgrounds in Chadron, Neb., in August. The school was the first of two that will be held in the community. While the first session taught students basic massage techniques, the students will return the first weekend in October to learn about more difficult problems horses can experience and how to help alleviate their pain.

The clinic was attended by students in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Oklahoma. Instructors Jan Scott of Fort Collins, Colo., and Barb Page of Laramie, Wyo., aim to teach the students how to evaluate their horse’s soreness and alleviate the pain with massage, thus enhancing their performance and quality of life.

“Our optimum goal is to see our students develop a whole new relationship with their horses,” Scott said. “We want to teach people how to identify soreness and take care of their horses. When they finish our program, we want them to go away feeling confident and capable of performing a complete equine massage on their horses.”

Scott learned the techniques they use from respected massage therapist Buster Harlow, who lived in Gillette, Wyo., Harlow practiced physical therapy and massage with an appreciation of pain relief after having broken his back when he was young.

Although Harlow worked with humans, he became interested in working with horses after watching them perform and realizing the pain they must endure to do their jobs. Harlow started working on massage methods for horses by consulting with veterinarians and other massage professionals. Through his research, he developed a core massage program that Scott and Page are carrying on today through their company, Sport Horse Therapeutic Equine Massage.

Scott said she became interested in equine massage because of one of her own horses. “I had an old mare who had been through three kids in 4-H and through rodeo,” she explained. “Because of all this, she had developed some problems and was in a lot of pain. I wanted to help her and figured it was the least I could do after my vet had done all that was reasonable. Jerry Gaddis, also a student of Harlow, gave her a massage and it made a remarkable difference in her.”

Scott continued, “When I had the opportunity to learn from Buster, I went. He passed away about two years ago, but we still have people ask if we do what Buster did. He had a tremendous following. We worked with Buster, and when his health failed, we carried on. We’ve expanded and built upon Buster’s original program with our experience.”

Scott said she and Page try to hold clinics in the fall and spring and pick locations where there are a cluster of people wanting to learn. “We try to hold our clinics where the people are so they can bring in their own horses and learn how to work on them without taking vacation time or traveling long distances. Our goal is to teach people how to take care of their horse so that pain isn’t misunderstood as disobedience, to enhance performance, and the human equine relationship,” she explained.

A large variety of people attend the clinics. Scott said they have had veterinarians and vet techs, but generally have ranchers, people who rodeo and people who compete with performance horses. “Generally, the people who want to learn equine massage are people who are trying to help their horses perform better and have a comfortable living. There is no point paying entry fees and buying gasoline if your horse isn’t in top shape for the event,” Scott said.

Tabatha Long of Albin, Wyo., attended the equine massage program to improve her horse’s health and her own overall knowledge of her horse. Long, who competes in barrel racing, has taken her horses to chiropractors and massage therapists in the past and found it to not be very cost-effective. “I am here because I love this and I really want to learn how to do it. I want my horses to have the most positive experience they can every time they run,” she explained.

For Pam Pierce of Windsor, Colo.,, it was the intrigue of learning how to make her own horses feel better that led her to attend the program. “They gave a free clinic in May at Lusk and I found it really intriguing, so I came here hoping to learn more.”

Pierce said she has a horse at home with some chronic issues she hopes can be helped through massage. “I have a horse who could really use this,” she said. “I am planning to bring him to the advanced clinic in hopes he can be helped. It would be nice to be able to make him feel better without spending a fortune,” she added.

Pierce said she also likes how the program addresses the total picture. “We get the whole picture here from nutrition to horse care,” she said.

Scott said during the school, they address the four primary causes of soreness in horses – saddle fit, foot care, nutrition and condition. During the school, the instructors spend time in the classroom discussing each of these issues and how they fit into keeping the horse in top form. They also demonstrate in the arena so students understand how to properly fit their saddle and take care of their horse’s feet.

Sandie Azinger of Hot Springs, S.D., learned that her saddle didn’t properly fit one of her horses. “I am anxious for the saddle segment,” she said. “I want to learn how to select what saddle I need to fit my horse correctly.”

Azinger, who competes in cutting horse events, was interested in equine massage to help her cutting horse. “I have one that has won over $50,000 and I feel like I owe her,” Azinger said. “When she hurts, I don’t know how to help her. This clinic is a good thing. They teach the whole program here from saddle fitting to feet to nutrition. My mare gives me 110 percent effort all the time. I want to be able to take great care of her,” she said.

Scott said once students learn the technique, they can give a horse a massage in about an hour to an hour and a half. “You have to be reasonably strong to give an equine massage,” Scott said, “but we teach you how to use your body so it doesn’t take a lot out of you. Most any age is capable to giving a horse a massage.”

Scott said she doesn’t recommend to her students giving more than three massages a day. “The horses can really benefit from a massage,” Scott explained. “It increases their flexibility, gives them pain relief, and enhances their performance. Like an athlete in the Olympics, you have to work out those sore muscles if you are going to excel at today’s performance levels.”

For more information on their program, their website is http://www.sporthorsemassage.com.

Students attending a recent equine massage school learned how to enhance the performance of their horses and make them feel better.

The three-day equine massage school was held at the Dawes County Fairgrounds in Chadron, Neb., in August. The school was the first of two that will be held in the community. While the first session taught students basic massage techniques, the students will return the first weekend in October to learn about more difficult problems horses can experience and how to help alleviate their pain.

The clinic was attended by students in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Oklahoma. Instructors Jan Scott of Fort Collins, Colo., and Barb Page of Laramie, Wyo., aim to teach the students how to evaluate their horse’s soreness and alleviate the pain with massage, thus enhancing their performance and quality of life.

“Our optimum goal is to see our students develop a whole new relationship with their horses,” Scott said. “We want to teach people how to identify soreness and take care of their horses. When they finish our program, we want them to go away feeling confident and capable of performing a complete equine massage on their horses.”

Scott learned the techniques they use from respected massage therapist Buster Harlow, who lived in Gillette, Wyo., Harlow practiced physical therapy and massage with an appreciation of pain relief after having broken his back when he was young.

Although Harlow worked with humans, he became interested in working with horses after watching them perform and realizing the pain they must endure to do their jobs. Harlow started working on massage methods for horses by consulting with veterinarians and other massage professionals. Through his research, he developed a core massage program that Scott and Page are carrying on today through their company, Sport Horse Therapeutic Equine Massage.

Scott said she became interested in equine massage because of one of her own horses. “I had an old mare who had been through three kids in 4-H and through rodeo,” she explained. “Because of all this, she had developed some problems and was in a lot of pain. I wanted to help her and figured it was the least I could do after my vet had done all that was reasonable. Jerry Gaddis, also a student of Harlow, gave her a massage and it made a remarkable difference in her.”

Scott continued, “When I had the opportunity to learn from Buster, I went. He passed away about two years ago, but we still have people ask if we do what Buster did. He had a tremendous following. We worked with Buster, and when his health failed, we carried on. We’ve expanded and built upon Buster’s original program with our experience.”

Scott said she and Page try to hold clinics in the fall and spring and pick locations where there are a cluster of people wanting to learn. “We try to hold our clinics where the people are so they can bring in their own horses and learn how to work on them without taking vacation time or traveling long distances. Our goal is to teach people how to take care of their horse so that pain isn’t misunderstood as disobedience, to enhance performance, and the human equine relationship,” she explained.

A large variety of people attend the clinics. Scott said they have had veterinarians and vet techs, but generally have ranchers, people who rodeo and people who compete with performance horses. “Generally, the people who want to learn equine massage are people who are trying to help their horses perform better and have a comfortable living. There is no point paying entry fees and buying gasoline if your horse isn’t in top shape for the event,” Scott said.

Tabatha Long of Albin, Wyo., attended the equine massage program to improve her horse’s health and her own overall knowledge of her horse. Long, who competes in barrel racing, has taken her horses to chiropractors and massage therapists in the past and found it to not be very cost-effective. “I am here because I love this and I really want to learn how to do it. I want my horses to have the most positive experience they can every time they run,” she explained.

For Pam Pierce of Windsor, Colo.,, it was the intrigue of learning how to make her own horses feel better that led her to attend the program. “They gave a free clinic in May at Lusk and I found it really intriguing, so I came here hoping to learn more.”

Pierce said she has a horse at home with some chronic issues she hopes can be helped through massage. “I have a horse who could really use this,” she said. “I am planning to bring him to the advanced clinic in hopes he can be helped. It would be nice to be able to make him feel better without spending a fortune,” she added.

Pierce said she also likes how the program addresses the total picture. “We get the whole picture here from nutrition to horse care,” she said.

Scott said during the school, they address the four primary causes of soreness in horses – saddle fit, foot care, nutrition and condition. During the school, the instructors spend time in the classroom discussing each of these issues and how they fit into keeping the horse in top form. They also demonstrate in the arena so students understand how to properly fit their saddle and take care of their horse’s feet.

Sandie Azinger of Hot Springs, S.D., learned that her saddle didn’t properly fit one of her horses. “I am anxious for the saddle segment,” she said. “I want to learn how to select what saddle I need to fit my horse correctly.”

Azinger, who competes in cutting horse events, was interested in equine massage to help her cutting horse. “I have one that has won over $50,000 and I feel like I owe her,” Azinger said. “When she hurts, I don’t know how to help her. This clinic is a good thing. They teach the whole program here from saddle fitting to feet to nutrition. My mare gives me 110 percent effort all the time. I want to be able to take great care of her,” she said.

Scott said once students learn the technique, they can give a horse a massage in about an hour to an hour and a half. “You have to be reasonably strong to give an equine massage,” Scott said, “but we teach you how to use your body so it doesn’t take a lot out of you. Most any age is capable to giving a horse a massage.”

Scott said she doesn’t recommend to her students giving more than three massages a day. “The horses can really benefit from a massage,” Scott explained. “It increases their flexibility, gives them pain relief, and enhances their performance. Like an athlete in the Olympics, you have to work out those sore muscles if you are going to excel at today’s performance levels.”

For more information on their program, their website is http://www.sporthorsemassage.com.


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