By Frank J. Buchman
Frequently somewhat hyper, the buckskin mare Maggie’s tenseness was most apparent with blustery heavy downpour on the indoor arena.
Julie Frank of Rise and Shine Equine LLC at Ottawa had lined up an appointment for Maggie several weeks earlier.
A lifelong horsewoman, Julie is a certified sports message therapist for dogs and horses “to be their best,” she explained.
Massages for humans, horses and dogs are really nothing new, but different and improved procedures are a constant effort.
Ten benefits of massage therapy were described by Julie. A massage increases blood flow to muscles, and releases natural pain relieving endorphins, a brain substance resembling the drug morphine.
Muscle tone is enhanced, circulation improves, inflammation is reduced and joint mobility increases with massages, Julie said. They will also promote healing and increase a horse’s range of motion.
To expand her efforts to help horses, Julie is incorporating a Sure Foot Equine Stability Program into her practice.
“Sure Foot Pads developed by Wendy Murdoch change a horse’s posture, behavior, and movement. They improve balance, confidence, and performance,” Julie said. “More importantly, Sure Foot Pads when accompanied by voice command, your horse will become engaged, present, and ready to work.”
From a large duffle bag, Julie spread 14 different Sure Foot Pads on the arena floor. “With distinctive names, each pad serves a different purpose in calming and relaxing the horse,” Julie explained.
“The pads challenge your horse’s balance, activate nerve endings, work the small postural muscles, and create awareness,” Julie said. “The degree of difficulty depends on the pad density and number of hooves placed on pads.
“Once the horse is familiar with the Sure Foot Pad, the pattern can be varied on any given day,” Julie explained. “It depends on the horse’s condition, medical history, and desired effect.
“I am continuing to learn about Sure Foot Pads, but everything I’ve done so far has been positive for the horse,” she added. “I hope to become a certified in the Sure Foot Equine Stability Program to accompany my massage treatments.”
As introduction to the treatment, Maggie was asked to stand with her left front foot on the full physio pad. “Good girl,” Julie complimented Maggie consistently as exposing the mare to other pads with all feet at some time.
It was apparent, the hyper mare was becoming calmer, seemingly liking the treatments which she likely did not understand.
After the Sure Foot treatments for Maggie, Julie moved forward to the massage which had been seen in other presentations.
Starting at the bridle path and moving down the neck and chest area, Julie performed massage therapy on the mare. “These techniques involve applying firm pressure to muscles and other underlying soft tissues,” Julie said.
Strokes used include gentle tapping, light to firm stroking and application of deeper pressure.
Maggie became more relaxed dropping her head, licking her lips and breathing calmly while her lead shank was unattended. The entire left side, back, hip and rear muscle areas received the therapy.
When the mare had become quite relaxed, Julie again recognized, “Good girl,” and led the mare around the indoor arena.
Brought back to the original location, Julie’s massage treatments continued on the mare’s right side. Again, Maggie was soon showing appreciation through relaxing, licking her lips, breathing calmly, and ready for a late morning nap.
It was a full two hour session when the therapist had completed Maggie’s treatments. There was no sign of hard feelings on part of the mare. Quite the opposite seemingly adoring the therapist‘s gentle soothing treatments accompanied by verbal acknowledgment.
Questioned whether the now calm Quarter Horse should be ridden, Julie encouraged she be turned back into her outside pen. “The mare has been through a lot more than is apparent to the human eye,” Julie insisted. “It’s best to let her take advantage of the therapy and ride her tomorrow as you typically would.”
An appointment to have Maggie’s next massage therapy treatment was scheduled in three weeks. “Massage works differently on every horse, generally always having a positive effect,” Julie claimed. “I see some clients every week and others less frequently.”
Summarizing her gentle concerned care for the Quarter Horse mare, Julie repeated, “Massage is a healing art. You will experience the wonderful unique satisfaction that comes from providing needed relief to these most noble animal athletes. They give so much and ask for so little in return.”
In summary Julie pointed out, “Massage relieves muscle pain and stiffness by returning the muscles to a normal state. Rise and Shine Equine LLC helps to keep the horse’s entire body in better physical condition.
“I care about how your horses feel and how they perform. I’ve always had and enjoyed working with horses and I now believe massage therapy is my lifelong calling” Julie concluded.
Complete details about Julie Frank’s services are available at www.riseandshineequinellc.com and on Facebook.
The therapist readily becomes a horse’s best friend as verified by Maggie calm demur during massage treatment by Julie Frank. Sure Foot Pads are in 14 different shapes and degrees of hardness to improve a horse’s posture, behavior, and movement. Massage techniques by therapist Julie Frank involve applying firm pressure to muscles and other underlying soft tissues. Various Sure Foot Pads were placed under the horse’s feet by Julie Frank, massage therapist.