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Vol. 3, 2011


This newsletter is all about how to help you help your horse, move better, last longer and prevent injury.



Once you have to think about motion, you have interrupted the motion. Here is an example. I was finished working on horses at a barn on a warm spring afternoon, when Mrs. Honey, the owner of the farm called out to me. She came out of her house with golf clubs, a bucket of golf balls, and a big smile, as she asked if I wanted to drive some balls. I told her I did not play golf, but I did take a few lessons as an undergraduate in college many years ago. ”Oh, come on, give it a try she said. All you have to do, is hit the ball as far as you can across that big lawn over there”. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained I thought. I took the club and drove the ball nearly 100 yards across the lawn and more. She couldn’t believe how high and far I drove that ball. She said” I thought you told me you didn’t play golf?” “ I don’t,” I replied. Much to her surprise and delight, I presented her with a challenge and some competition. Mrs. Honey took quite a swing, and with great precision, and execution, she drove the ball just short of mine.

She told me it was my turn next. Hesitantly, knowing my little experience as a golfer, I decided to think about how to hit the ball so I could repeat my previous performance. I stood square, hips directly below my shoulders, arms extended with slight flex of the elbow, knees bent, waist slightly flexed. I swung at the ball, and it landed about 10 feet from me and in to the ground. Wow, I thought that was pathetic. Mrs. Honey laughed and told me to try again. This time, I really concentrated, got in to my position and, whamo, the ball went 15 feet while the club jammed in to the ground and tore up the grass. What was I doing wrong?

Read further for an example of good motion with an Olympic Equestrian Gold Medalist  


Shortened stride from hind leg; Less push from hind leg.

A top rider called me, voicing great concern about his international competition horse because the horse was short behind, and not stepping underneath his body with his right hind leg. The horse’s push with the right hind was also diminished. The horse was going to be shipping to compete in a qualifier for an international competition in three weeks.

I understood the rider’s concern since a fraction of an inch makes a difference in a competition. I told the rider that if the origin of the problem was coming from a tight muscle, I could likely restore the range of motion to the horse’s hind leg with one or two treatments. (I believe if it is the correct treatment, results should be reached within one to two treatments. If results do not occur in two treatments, then it is not the correct treatment!).

Problem Solving: 

Since all muscles pull, and that is all they do in terms of motion, I needed to think in terms of the biomechanics to begin to solve the shortened stride problem. It is the release process of the muscle that is effected by simple muscle tightness. When muscles are tight, they do not release easily for the opposite motion to occur. Thinking about which muscles are not releasing is critical to solving the problem. A simple example is a person who has tight back muscles. The back muscles are responsible for extending the spine and keeping the person erect and standing upright. If these same back muscles in a person are tight, they may not release fully to allow for flexion of the spine, or bending forward...

Read more about the problem, cause, and solution


Sue Clarke has a wealth of knowledge and experience as stable manager at Stonehall Farm, The Plains, Virginia, since 1992 (read more about Sue at the link below)

Question: What fundamental lesson do you feel is very important for foals to learn that will remain with them through their adult lives? 

Read Sue's answer


Quick Stress Reliever - Meditative Breathing

Sometimes we forget to breathe. This simple exercise can be used before competing, riding, social situations or simply after a hard day at work. A very good, quick way to instantly relieve stress is the following meditative breathing exercise:

1. Sit comfortably in a chair, or in the car, if on the go. Feet flat on the ground, with arms and legs uncrossed. Close eyes. Begin by breathing very slowly, deeply, noisily into your belly. 

2. First breath is in through your nose and out your mouth. Pucker your lips and breath noisily on the out breath.


Over the past year of 2011, Jo-Ann enjoyed teaching many professional massage therapists, physical therapists, veterinarians, and some horse owners the highly successful Wilson Meagher Method. She has taught a group of therapists through the Downeast School of Massage as well as private and semi private apprenticeships outside of Boston Mass...

Read more about Jo-Ann's teaching experiences this year

3. Imagine all your stress is releasing and pushed out on the out breath. Make the out breath twice as long as the in breath. This gives you more time to release the stress.

4. Do this meditative breathing 5 to 10 breaths as needed.

It really works to achieve a sense of CALM.


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