I saw this photo and thought I had to start off with Luscombe Nodram. He is an 8 year old Draft horse from Australia who measures 20.2′. Ha! Noddy is believed to be the tallest horse in the world. So, I had to read up on him… He weighs 2866 pounds and is a registered Shire. Noddy comes from a line of tall horses. In fact his great grandsire was in the Guiness Book of World Records in 1981 as the Tallest Horse at 19.2. Ahhh, the kids are getting biger these days!
What I thought was really funny is that the trainer/rider (yes, he is trained to ride and drive) has to use a ladder or “swing from a tree” (no joke, that is what she said) to mount. I’d like to try to order a mounting block for this guy… “Ah, Hello, Valley Vet… Um…”
COULDN’T HURT, COULD HELP BODY WORK FOR YOUR HORSE
I can just hear the flack flying as I delve into this controversial arena… Actually, I had no idea it was such a big thing until I starting fishing around.
You see, a few years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to recognize and aid signs of particular equine soreness, or at least have an overall “feel good” technique to relax my horse while helping him heal his muscles, joints and structure without injury. Oy. Who knew I was diving into such a bath of churning controversy. In a nutshell, the people who own schools and teach this sort of thing have a point. You cannot just hang a shingle and say you do equine bodywork without the proper training. Yup, I would have to agree. However, some of us just want to learn basic, lightweight, can’t hurt/could help techniques that don’t take 4 years to study. This is where there is the rub… In America, truly, you cannot do this easily. The fear is that one will not just work on their own horses, but will try to make money and hurt other horses. OK OK, I get it. But, what about ME? I don’t want to hurt anyone’s horses, especially my own. Besides, there are plenty of books out there, I could just teach myself. Whatever. It was frustrating.
WHAT I DID – EQUINE TOUCH
I want to let you know that I researched from Equine Massage to Equine Osteopathy and everything in between. There was mud slinging everywhere and I was appalled and fascinated at the same time. After slogging through it all…
I flew in the face of adversity and followed the Maverick! Yup, I went after the guy who has a big voice but also the power behind it. EQUINE TOUCH.
Now, if you haven’t done the research, and why would you, you wouldn’t know that this guy has lots of mumblers. But, everyone has mumblers so I took it with a grain of salt. I studied who he studied. I looked at what the old guys said about him. And, I was impressed.
Here’s how I based my decision. I wanted a body background. I wanted osteopathy but easier. I wanted the Obewons of the body workers to think this guy was onto something. So, I followed Janek Vluggen, the best known equine doctor of osteopathy. Of course, he is in the Netherlands and traveling, so not based where I could study him. Bummer. As I read more, I could only find one DVM vested in osteopathy in the US, Marcia DuBois, who happens to also follows Vluggen. Ah ha! I was getting somewhere, sort-of. Then I read more about them all and found the name Jack Meagher. He was just a guy in the US a while back who was known as the founder of equine osteopathy. (He has a great, simple book… you might want to get it.) Sadly, he no longer exists. He did have students. But, since the US doesn’t sanction Osteopathy without a DVM, of course, no once can teach this here. Besides, I didn’t want to learn the whole thing, just the Cliff Notes.
This brought me to a Jock Ruddock of Equine Touch. He was a human body worker first, has studied with both Janek and Jack Meagher and he does layman’s clinics! Aha! Sign me up! Which I did. Jock (from Scotland) and his wife Ivana (a vet in the Czech Republic) run this program/school. It is well thought out for the everyday horse person (Levels 1 and 2) and for the Practitioner (Levels 3 and 4) The great part is that you can actually make a difference with your horses after Level 1! And, basic everyday people (like me) cannot accidentally hurt their horses because it is non-invasive and works on the fascia.
It is called Vibromuscular Harmonization Technique (VHT) or Equine Touch. OMG. It so works! I could tell you the whole schpeil, but you should just go to the website and read if you are interested. It has changed my life and the life of my horses! Jock knows his stuff. He is kinda big in personality and has a lot to say, but it is important to listen. Ivana is the opposite. She is lovely and gentle and teaches you the clinical side of it all. They are a perfect balance. I learned so much and saw so much. I witnessed Jock work on client horses that were not part of the clinic (I went on a ride-along) and saw incredible improvement without pain. I was hooked!
For me, I took my Level 1 in Texas. Not only was I amazed at the work but I was also amazed that I could learn it. I took my Level 2 in Hawaii which was nice… ;) I haven’t done my Level 3 but did watch it. And, as much as I kicked and screamed about having to leave CA to learn, I met wonderful people who will be lifelong friends. An adventure for sure!
Equine Touch advanced levels go into nutrition, feet, the complete horse… which is good to know. But, you don’t have to start there, you can just go and learn the basics that work. For me, it was good to observe that they are on the cutting edge of just about everything equine — in a sensible way — but I could return home with very practical, basic knowledge on lower level courses.
Downside: The downside is that these two are so popular around the world that they don’t come to the US as much anymore (they will be here in May 2010). But, they do have very adept trainers here who can teach you.
I highly, highly recommend that you do this if you are interested in non-invasive body work that you can do fairly easily on your horses. And, if you can get yourself into Jock and Ivana’s training, you will never forget it. They will be in the US in May. So, sign up, if you want to/are able to. (Or, email: email@example.com for a schedule.) I think you will be very happy you did. (I have no affiliation.)
Here are a few honorable mentions that I didn’t try but looked promising.
1) You have all probably heard of TTouch by Linda Tellington-Jones. Her school offers a well-rounded technique of understanding your horse through several avenues and one of those is simple bodywork. I think she addresses this correctly in that we all need to understand the ins and outs so we can better see the whole picture. TTouch offers a 3 or 5/6 day course that covers many valuable aspects. Check it out.
2) The next place, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure, offers just about every type of body work imaginable. I didn’t choose this but did hear many rave reviews. Why didn’t I choose it? Well, I needed a short course…
Tallgrass Animal Acupressure. Look it up if you are interested in a full education.