100% HEALING: The missing link is Fascia:
The above photo is from Architecture of Human Living Fascia by Jean-Claude Guimberteau, MD. The fascia image was captured using digital endoscope to record what was happening to his surgical patients’ tissue as he worked through and around it. Fascia’s vital importance to body health is hidden from the public. “The videotaped sequences leave no doubt. Any gesture of manual therapy has an impact at the cellular level.” Dr. Guimberteau told Karrie Osborn while working on an article for Sept/Oct 2016 issue of Massage and Bodywork.
Myofascial Release (Fascia is also called myofascia or connective tissue) resolves problems that drugs, surgery, lazer lights and acupuncture can’t change. Fascia holds emotional trauma charge. Fascia is the filmy white tissue that surrounds the body parts and organizes them, along with the blood vessels and lymphatic system. It connects everything.
Fascia compensations from injuries advance to stiff adhesions over time. Movement becomes difficult, or even impossible. The compensations create more compensations. This is why fitness drops exponentially after injuries in horses and humans. Fortunately, stuck areas melt with our hand heat. Heat creates vibration in the stuck fascia which allows it regain ability to move and slide again. Lack of movement brings aging and death to the tissue.
Look beyond Big Pharma’s denial of Fascia and it’s importance to health and fitness. The infamous Flexner Report in 1910 blocked diverse therapies. This document produced by an AMA committee outlawed homeopathy and many herbal treatments. Ida Rolf in Germany pioneered the re-discovery of Fascia with her revolutionary Rolfing. She broke through the modern legal barriers to bring Fascia back into public health practice. Heller Work, an evolution of rolfing went further and developed work for animals.
“Looking to medicine, rehabilitation, exercise and ineffective gimmicks & gadgets for the solution has been ineffective for so many people,” Sue Hitzmann, The Melt Method.
“The fascia system is responsible for misalignment, imbalance, chronic pain and disfomfort.”
“Unlike muscle, Fascia doesn’t receive input from the brain or nervous system to adapt to our movement. Fascia works independently to organize, stabilize and protect the body for its movement. When there’s pain, the Fascia system has to be treated as a whole.”
Reprinted with permission from July/Aug 2019 Horse Around New Mexico
Fitness for Horse & Rider
Riders like riding better. Riders like their horses moving better and happily. Combining rider awareness with improved horse fitness can help accomplish both. Here is an introduction to Centered Riding® and Conformation Balancing which can help riders accomplish these goals.
Many of us are familiar with Centered Riding, developed by Sally Swift. It focuses on “use of self,” enabling the rider to stay soft to enhance and not impede their horse’s performance.
Centered Riding brings rider awareness back into their own body.
Here are the four basic concepts of Centered Riding:
• Be centered in your body by having
balance, energy and control.
• Focus on and be aware of your breathing to breathe correctly which will bring about relaxation and softness.
• Know and practice basic building blocks which puts your body in a balanced position for best functioning.
• Keep your eyes soft which will improve awareness of self, horse and others.
Conformation Balancing is myofascial bodywork that teaches riders to relieve stuck adhesions, which helps their horses move past athletic and trauma pain.
What is myofascia?
Fascia, myofascia or connective tissue seems like a hidden world. It is the body’s unseen internet, a linked system that connects all the parts. It’s the vital link to the horse’s athletic ability. Horses are master compensators; any strain might not
be apparent due to the horse’s ability to hide the injury in numerous ways. Compensation works until it doesn’t.
The poll is another area that often contains myofascia adhesions.
If the horse has rigid fascia adhesions and compensations from old injuries, he can’t move smoothly nor respond willingly to tasks. This is the source of “resistance” in horses; it’s a can’t, not a won’t.
Four areas to check on your horse:
Conformation Balancing shows very simple, basic ways for riders to melt stuck fascia adhesions in horses, maximizing results for better riding. It addresses
four areas: stance, top line, head and tail.
Riders can look at these areas for vital clues to their horse’s condition. Do this check daily when you visit you horse:
• Stance: Does he stand squarely, easily
• Top line: Are there dips, dents or lumps?
• Head: Is head posture relaxed and is his poll soft?
• Tail: Does it hang loosely and evenly? Is it flexible?
Riding with these two tools- Centered Riding & Conformation Balancing- is an experiential shift, rather than a goal. We raise our receptivity with our horses, enabling us to work from where we are. The horse feels this shift immediately. This emotional connection with the horse is a big reason why people still ride horses. Horses are not just transportation anymore. The horse-rider partnership is a freedom for both sides.
www.horsearoundnm.com | July/August 2019 | HORSE AROUND 2
Riders who routinely pay attention to their horse’s condition can prevent and eliminate issues instead of waiting for a debilitating problem. Short regular scans of your horse’s body with soft palms help us find changes and tightness quickly. The power of melting fascia helps our horse immediately, before it turns into a stuck limitation.
Fix it before it breaks.
It is exciting to see riders focus less
on what’s “wrong” and become more present for their own riding experience. Quick to fault themselves, riders become unconsciously performance driven. This can pressure the horse past his physical and emotional limits. Our relationship with our horses is far more complex than our relationship with our cars or bicycles and far more rewarding.
By learning more about Centered Riding and Conformation Balancing, we will become more present with ourselves
and our horses, fix problems before they intensify and be better horsemen.
How the combo began
Margret Henkels and Dorothy Crosby have combined their expertise and established Soft Riders/Soft Horses,
a horse healing and human coaching method. The two met as presenters during Equine Affaire 2017 in Massachusetts.
Dorothy presented Centered Riding demonstrations. The two clicked immediately, realizing what their work had in common: consideration for the horse. Centered Riding and Conformation Balancing were good partners for a balanced horse.
In 2018 the duo presented a combo workshop called Soft Riders/Soft
Horses in a horse event in Vermont. They call it, “An empowering marriage of the two, integrating body consciousness, balance, softness, mental poise, holistic fitness level and happiness for both horse and rider.”
Margret Henkels is the author of Is Your Horse 100% and developer of Conformation Balancing. See ConformationBalancing.com.
Dorothy Crosby, a Third Level Centered Riding instructor based in Vermont, manages Southmowing Stables, owned by Lucile Bump,
a legacy Sally Swift protégé. See Crosbyequi-libruim.com.
From Head to Tail: Balanced or “Stuck”?
While attending an instructor clinic several years ago, a spontaneous educational event occurred and fascia was first explained to me in a barn. I was fortunate to observe cranio-sacral work on a horse “stuck” in its movement who had some tight spots, especially in his TMJ, which affected his stride. Sure, all the parts are connected; we know that the origin of physiological problems may be somewhere else on the horse’s body. But I was fascinated to see how this “melting” of the problem area changed the movement of the horse in a completely different place.
Fast forward a bit, to a nurse practitioner suggesting I try cranio-sacral therapy for myself. And then came good fortune: to have the previously mentioned equine practitioner work on my horses. To see – and feel – the changes that took place amazed me. Even better, he taught me to utilize a specific technique; this was the first recognition that a new adventure, already begun, had been jump started into something way larger than I had anticipated
Fascia, or myofascia, is the elastic, connective tissue in our bodies that surrounds every organ and cell. It holds us together, stabilizing the organs and muscles, and determines our flexibility. Considered “self-directing” and “self-intelligent”, fascia determines the extent and ease of our movement, ensuring our vital parts communicate with each other. Fascia has recall memory; a holding pot for emotional trauma and tension, any fascia release can produce both physical and psychological healing for human or equine (or dog, cat or other living creature!).
One practitioner described fascia as a “big sheet of plastic wrap that surrounds everything; when it gets crinkled, it needs to be ‘melted’ so it can straighten out”, which it does from the heat of our hands. An equine chiropractor, also a vet, explained that in vet school they learned about fascia: it was “the stuff you had to cut through to get to everything else!” Now our knowledge about what it actually does is great; surely the rising interest in fascia release work comes partly from the results of experiencing it! Ever see the white stretchy film on a chicken breast? There it is; that’s fascia in the flesh
Last fall, when presenting at Equine Affaire, I became fixated on attending a workshop by Margret Henkels, who had studied extensively the role of fascia, with significant experience working on horses. Margret had a book signing (Is Your Horse 100%?) and I went to meet her. A fascinating conversation ensued; she had desired a Centered Riding Instructor to connect with, and I hoped fascia release work could address an equine body issue.
Margret had developed Conformation Balancing, a program integrating the many facets of equine bodywork she had invested years in studying. We eventually created and presented a workshop entitled “Soft Riders, Soft Horses”, our coordinated effort to facilitate softening the multiple areas of tightness affecting both horses and their riders; we have presented this twice so far. I have completed her course, becoming certified to work on equine bodies. And what a fantastic journey…
In some circles, fascia is considered to play an important role in just about everything. If it gets “stuck” we may have issues somewhere within the body: movement, pain, anxiety, tension, tightness, and flexibility, to name a few. Because it surrounds and connects all organs and systems, each part is affected by the whole; an entire network (Margret Henkels calls it internet-like) impacts each minute and large piece in our structure by directing, recognizing, reacting, compressing, releasing, remembering, and feeling. That’s quite a system, and no doubt works better than my computer!
Articles are available on the effects of tack on a horse’s nervous system and fascia. We need not avoid using tack; perhaps our practices will change somewhat as we consider fit and purpose in a new light. Personal observations from horses I’ve worked on have implicated pressure points from horse clothing, tack, equipment, injury, trauma, riding, or inactivity. Certainly, this list is not exhaustive; many physical and environmental factors can impact fascia.
The good news: our horses can be helped and they do tell us where the issues are. This is non-invasive work; strategic placement of our hands, on specific points of the horse, changes the temperature of both our hands and the horse’s body, ultimately changing the fascia. Horses do the work themselves, going deep inside and allowing the changes and releases. Any areas they don’t need, or aren’t ready for, are places they resist, directing us to those spots most productive and helpful to them at that time.
Of course, none of this precludes the need to consult your vet for health issues of any kind. But it is nice to know there many ways to assist our horses to optimal health and functioning!
Dorothy is certified in Conformation Balancing. Dorothy Crosby is certified both as a Level III Centered Riding® Instructor/Clinician and CHA Instructor for both English and Western riders. Dorothy manages a small farm in Stoddard, NH, where Equi-librium is based. Most recently, she has added fascia release work on horses through Conformation Balancing. Her joy is in teaching humans and equines of all ages and levels of experience. http://www.crosbyequi-librium.com
- “Architecture of Human Living Fascia” published 2016 by Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau, MD
- The Melt Method, Sue Hitzmann (fascia for humans)
- Body Wise, Joseph Heller & Wiliam Henkin, Wingbow Press
- Touching Light, How to Free Your Fiber Optic Fascia, Ronelle Wood, True Body Publishing
THE CHANGES IN BOTH MY HORSES ARE SIGNIFICANT. My 12-year-old Hanoverian is moving with the freedom and flexibility she had as a 5-year-old. Canter, to my Quarter horse, meant totally resist, or canter a few strides then break or try to get out of it by any means possible. Now, his canter is nice, soft and relaxed; he’ll canter wonderfully until asked to stop. You have a great book. Rickie S