As equestrians, we all want the best for our horses, but sometimes, due to locality or finances, that’s not always possible. For instance, if you live outside of horse country, you might not have access to the specialized equine professionals places like Ocala, Florida, or Woodside, California, benefit from. Even if you do live near an equestrian Mecca, your wallet might limit you on the services you can afford.
Heather Wallace of Animal Bodywork & Aromatherapy noted these issues during the unprecedented environment brought about in 2020. When she returned to her barn after a seven-week quarantine, she was horrified to discover her horse, Ferrous, had lost a ton of muscle mass. As a massage therapist, she knew she could come up with a plan to slowly and steadily get him back into shape, but she realized other equestrians weren’t so lucky.
“He had access to everything because of what I do for a living, but I thought, well, so many people don’t have access to professionals or the money to be able to do this for their horses,” Wallace said. “We wanted to do something to help people that maybe aren’t clients of ours. The more people that have that information, the better off they and their horses will be.”
Wallace and one of her partners at Animal Bodywork & Aromatherapy, Dr. Madelyn Rauch, a licensed chiropractor for humans and animals, collaborated with physical therapist Dr. Danielle Shugard to write Body Conditioning for the Horse and Rider. This book helps horse owners condition themselves and their horses, whether they’re prepping for a show, recovering from an injury or just looking to improve their overall baseline health.
With more than 150 high quality photos, Body Conditioning for the Horse and Rider teaches about the different types of muscle, how to incorporate stretching into a routine, how a rider’s imbalance can cause problems with the horse, and more. The first section addresses the horse, from the muscles down to the vertebrae, with step-by-step exercises and stretches. Riders can use these to help build muscle properly and avoid strains, pulls and tears. A diary, where riders can take notes and track their progress, is provided at the end of the section.
The second section of the book focuses on the rider with exercises both on and off the horse. It is followed by a week-by-week progress report.
“We all know the rider is half the equation,” Wallace said. “If we just focus on the horse, that’s only half the picture, so we’re not going to necessarily have a long-term change. If we focus on both the horse and the rider, though, then long-term, we hopefully avoid injury and they can have a nice, happy life together.”
Prevention is the key to good health, Wallace added, and is often cheaper than paying for surgery and the medical appointments that go with it. Body Conditioning for the Horse and Rider is a way for people to self-care for themselves and their horses.
Horse owners from amateurs to professionals will benefit from Body Conditioning for the Horse and Rider. This book is available on Amazon or through Water Horse Press’ website, www.waterhorsepress.com. It can also be purchased through www.animalbodywork.com or www.dcsphysicaltherapy.com. A free download of the diary is available for E-books purchased anywhere except Amazon.
All photos by Farm & Fir Co.