I was about to start in on where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing since the last newsletter and blah, blah, blah, but something came up this month that is much more important and valuable that I have to share with you.
Last month I talked about Primary Issues, and how the more we learn about what’s causing the tension we’re finding in the body, the more we can help the owner keep them tension free.
Well, sometimes what’s causing tension in the body is something that has happened in the past, such as an injury or accident. Sometimes the incident is something the owner knew about, and sometimes not. It’s been my experience when working on horses that have had an accident in the past such as a fall; going over backwards; running into something; or an accident in a trailer, that the bodywork will often uncover what the horse’s body has been covering up or blocking out, sometimes for years. The nervous system gets jarred, similar to what might happen to us when we’re in a car that’s been hit by another car. We may not break anything, and might even trot off sound afterwards (although that might invite a call to the people in the white jackets), but often afterwards things are just not “quite right”, and aches, pains or problems can start showing up later.
As humans, we can complain and/or get something done about it. The horse doesn’t have that option. He’ll protect it and block it out as much as he can and just get on with life as well as he can.
The part of the horse’s nervous system that blocks out pain is called the sympathetic nervous system. This is the “fight, flight, or freeze” part of the nervous system. This is what kicks in and saves the horse’s life when it senses, or feels, danger.
On the other side is the parasympathetic part of the nervous system. It’s the part in charge of healing, resting, digesting, restoring. It’s the part that enjoys relaxing with friends and having a half-caff cappuccino with lo-fat soy milk and a twist of lime, or kicking back with brewski and Doritos and watching the game.
As we all know, the natural flight, fight or freeze response in the horse is very strong. It does such a good job of blocking out pain that it doesn’t allow the body to completely let the tension associated with it go. The horse is, in a sense, internally always on the alert.
When you learn how to by-pass the horse’s natural bracing and blocking response (sympathetic), you are able to access the part (parasympathetic) that allows the horse to release the tension it’s been holding.
And the process is simple:
1) Read and trust what the horse’s body language is telling you.
2) Stay light enough and long enough for the horse’s sympathetic to relax.
Both the reading, and the releasing is done by staying light enough that you by-pass the horse’s ability to guard what you’re looking for.
Sometimes the results are surprising and dramatic, as in the case of Whisper, an amazing mare who attended the “Considering the Horse: Mind and Body” clinic Mark Rashid and I taught in Nicasio, CA two weeks ago. Whisper is a willing and intelligent jumper, who attended the clinic with her owner Addy. On the surface Whisper had the usual sore and tight spots that come with an active horse, but there was a little high-strungedness (my word) in general in her behavior that Addy had been wanting to help her with. Addy’s an experienced and competent horse-women so I was pretty sure it wasn’t owner-related. I wanted to spend a little extra time with Whisper and so we worked with her after the clinic.
As the layers started coming off it uncovered deeper, embedded tension that reminded me of horses that had had something happen in the past. Addy couldn’t remember anything serious happening to Whisper in the past. She allowed us to video Whisper as she really started to let go. These are the times that we’re happy the horse has a stay apparatus that allows it to keep the legs from buckling.
I received the following email from Dianne Adel later after I’d returned home:
I got this email from Adelheid (Addy) about Whisper, who is the mare that “passed out” after finally landing in her parasympathetic.
“Tonight when we came home and I was marveling how good she looked after 4 hours in warm Friday afternoon traffic, and as she quietly went to graze, I flashed on this potentially disastrous day in March of 2016. She “cast” herself against the fence while rolling because the green grass hid the 2-3 foot wide depression and she slid into it. She laid very still until a neighbor came with his Jeep and we pulled her out using the soft cotton rope around her shoulders, at the wither, over her blanket so the rope burns were minimal. TJ was expecting her to scramble up and do aerials once on solid, wide ground but she sensibly got up, shook, and walked away…
Funny how I block this stuff out. But her body told the story…
Much more powerful stuff than “where Jim’s been and what Jim’s been doing”.
Considering the Horse, Mind and Body Collaborative Clinic with Mark Rashid at the Blue Dot Farm in Nicasio, CA
So, here’s where “Jim’s been and what Jim’s been doing” since the last newsletter. I had an amazing time at what I’ve been calling the, Mark and Jim Show, in Nicasio, California with Mark Rashid, Crissi McDonald, MMCP, Dianne Adel, MMCP, and all of the new people I met there.
A few months ago in our Bladder Meridian Challenge we challenged people to go out and do the Bladder Meridian Technique on as many horses they could (It’s my goal that every horse on the planet have the Bladder Meridian done on it at least once in its life).
The most enthusiastic response was from a group who call themselves the Masterson Method Mobile Response Team (MMMRT). They schedule a day at a barn or ranch and work on as many horses as they can. In Nicasio I got to meet MMMR Team leaders Judy Askins and Lynn Griffin. They ARE enthusiastic and knowledgeable horse women who learn every chance they can get. They spent the week at the clinic, attended the Weekend Seminar (for the second time), and are planning on doing the Advanced 5-Day Course. Their energy is infectious. I know; I caught some of it. They said that often when driving past a pasture with horses grazing they will stop and ask the owners if they can work on them. With them on the job I’m guessing my goal will be reached soon.
I stopped on the way home from California to meet up with our Instructors Coralie Hughes and Yvonne Ohlensehlen, and MMCP, Alienore Conrad at the Mane Event Horse Expo in Scottsdale, AZ.I had a good time doing demos and meeting people there before heading home, back to my desk. We’re becoming good friends (me and my desk).
One person I was fortunate to meet there was Mark Lyon who runs M and M Horsemanship with his wife Miranda. They are international natural horsemanship trainers, clinicians and entertainers in the Vaquero tradition, and very nice people. He’s a past Extreme Mustang Makeover Champion. You can sometimes tell when someone is good with a horse by the way they are with people and Mark is one of them. He had the patience to teach me some basics rope tricks and still have a smile on his face when finished. Now that’s patience. Check them out here at http://www.mandmhorsemanship.com/
Another interesting group I ran into was the U.S. Mangalarga Marchador Association. The Mangalara Marchadors are beautiful Brazilian-bred gaited horses from Spanish lines, and the Association are, well… people. They were gracious enough to lend some of their horses to us for our presentations and were very helpful. The horses are very special. If you’d like to find out more you don’t have to go to Brazil (unless you want to). Just click here.
More Collaborative Clinics
I’m really enjoying doing the collaborative clinics with Mark Rashid. Our next one is coming up in Littleton, Colorado in July. We plan on doing another one in Nicasio, California next year.
Jec Ballou and I will be doing our first joint clinic in Watsonville, CA at the end of this month. If there is anyone out there who still doesn’t know about Jec, she is a clinician, trainer and author of numerous books on training and fitness.
If you click on her new website you can see a photo of Jec and me promoting our clinic, in which her photo looks suspiciously better than mine. Of course, that has nothing to do with the fact that she may actually look better than me.
In any case, I love getting together with like-minded people and am looking forward to this first collaborative event with Jec. The clinic itself is full but there is still room for auditors. Jec may have room left for private lessons and I think I have a couple of slots left for private bodywork sessions during the week if anyone’s interested in having their horse fall over.
See the details of the clinic here.
Sign your horse up for a private bodywork session with Jim by emailing Kelsey@mastersonmethod.com.
Coming up the 20th through 22nd of April is the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, WI. This is always a good one. I’ll be doing presentations, manning the booth with the usual compliment of fun-loving and enthusiastic MMCPs, and we’ll also be talking on Sunday about our Masterson Method Equine Specialist Training Program for Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (whew!). Instructor Lise Lunde and Coordinator Megan Dushin will be on hand to answer all questions intelligently. I’ll listen : )
One More Thing
One more thing I want to mention. As you may already know (and if you don’t, you need to) we have a Beyond Horse Massage Home Study Course that is recommended after reading the Beyond Horse Massage Book or watching the DVD. It is also recommended before attending a Weekend Seminar as the more you understand before you go for hands-on-hands practice, the more you’re going to get out of the Seminar, and the better you’re going to be. We give a student discount on the Home Study Course to people who take the Weekend Seminar to encourage this.
For the Advanced 5-Day Course we have been recommending that people take the Home Study Course first as it gives them a chance to review and practice the material before starting the next level. Over the years I’ve noticed that people attending the Weekends and the Advanced Course are showing up better prepared than in the past. This makes for a better course for all involved.
The bar is being upped (my word, again 🙂 ). For this reason the Beyond Horse Massage Home Study Course is now a prerequisite for the Advanced 5-Day Course. It’s a great review of the Weekend Seminar and you’re going to be even smarter for it.
I think that’s about it for news and education. And that photo at the top; it has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. It’s a photo of my niece swimming her polo ponies at Dillingham on the north shore of Hawaii. I like that photo, and I thought you might like it too. A change from the endless photos of me on these things. Talk to you next month.
Until then, like me,
Enjoy your horses!
Special this Month
30% off the following products!
In the Dressage Movements Revealed DVD and the Dressage Horse Optimized Book see how the skeleton and muscles in the horse work together to create movement. Watch Bacchus move while painted with the skeleton, and then painted with the major muscles of the horse. This is a great way to learn what’s happening on a deeper level as you ask for movement with your horse.
Dressage Movements Revealed DVD
Dressage Horse Optimized Book
Biomechanics Combo for All Disciplines
*Special ends May 7th.
Masterson Method Equine Specialist Program News
Testimonials from EAAT Volunteers
We’re in the middle of writing a magazine article to share the value of doing The Masterson Method Bladder Meridian Technique as an equine-assisted activity or therapy (EAAT). We interviewed several volunteers at ROCK (Ride On Center for Kids) and other facilities who learned from Masterson Method Certified Practitioner and Equine Specialist Kelly Jefferson. The women we interviewed blew us away with their understanding of this approach with just one session!
“One thing that surprised me is that it takes such a light touch to get such big releases; and how much an animal can change in such a short period of time with a complete stranger, especially a complete stranger with no prior training in this method. When I see the horses ‘acting up’ I think, ‘What are they trying to tell us?’ With this method, it doesn’t matter if you can speak horse or not. You just give them a little attention, give them a little energy, and they will take that and do what they need to do with it.” – Rachel
“[When the horse had a release], it was kind of a release for me as well. Even though I’m breathing [consciously] the entire time, instead of it being such a focused breathing it was exciting. You could feel it in your chest, kind of like a gift on Christmas morning!” – Stephanie
“There was an exchange of warmth in the stall… that profound inner peace and calmness, and it definitely followed me, perhaps even into the next day as well. It was a palpable sensation.” – Cassandra
“I think when you give, you get something back, as long as the intent is pure. I think about some of the kiddos I’ve mentored or worked with, and the idea that they would be important enough to make a difference in a horse’s life has dramatic effects on them for a variety of reasons. That they have something to offer. The horse helps them believe in themselves. It did that for me I guess.” – Vanessa
Another new certified Masterson Method Equine Specialist to celebrate!
Congratulations Cortney in Ottawa, Ontario!
Cortney Honey, Certified MMES
From the day she was introduced to The Masterson Method, Cortney knew it was something very special for horse people and non-horse people alike to enjoy. She feels a strong link to horsemanship, overall wellbeing, and equine-assisted learning. Cortney is looking forward to sharing some of her knowledge and experience in The Masterson Method with others in the equine-assisted learning setting so they can go on to experience and share this wonderful gift themselves.
Find Us at the Midwest Horse Fair
Will you be at the Midwest Horse Fair April 20-22 in Madison, WI? Lise Lunde, lead MMES instructor and MMCP, and Megan Dushin, MM Fieldwork Student and MMES program coordinator, will be sharing about this application of The Masterson Method on Sunday afternoon at 3pm. Come find us and cheer us on!
Care to Host a MMES Training?
We are always looking for qualified hosts with 8-10 horses serving in an equine-assisted learning or therapy program. Earn a free spot in the MMES training! Note that the foundational Weekend Seminar ($495 course fee) is required – you’ll learn the basics of The Masterson Method prior to attending the MMES training. If you haven’t taken the Weekend Seminar yet, maybe this is the time to go for it! Learn more at https://mastersonmethodequinespecialist.com/hosting-a-training/.
Demo at the Iowa Horse Fair
Masterson Method Cerfied Practitioners: Theresa Burns, Martha Becker and Terri Haub were at the Iowa Horse Fair at the beginning of April.
Theresa Burns working with a participant during her demonstration of The Masterson Method.
Theresa Burns (left) and Terri Haub (right) getting ready to start a demo.
Martha Becker doing a sternum release.
See upcoming Expos and Demos on our website as well as listed below.
Testimonial from Anna-Maria Robinson
“I too saw Jim at the Mane Event in Chilliwack. I had never heard of The Masterson Method before. I was hooked by the first session and sat enthralled at all the sessions, but have to admit I was a bit skeptical that the method could be so simple and yet produce such amazing reactions. However, I bought the [Beyond Horse Massage] book and the video. I could not wait to go home and try some of the techniques.
I am still in amazement at the responses I got from my 3 horses. They are not “big talkers,” as you put it Jim. I do the Bladder Meridian and I see them relax…nose twitches at bit…and sometimes move their feet, but not much else UNTIL I put them back in the paddock. OMG!!! The yawning! Over and over. Plus, if I have only done the bladder meridian on one side, they lay down on that side only and roll…then get up and yawn some more.
At first I could not believe I could get such a response with my first few tries. Surely horses yawn all the time, right? Nope. I could watch them from the house…not much yawning. I could trim their hooves and let them back out…no yawning. I could brush them…no yawning. But a simple check on the Bladder Meridian had them yawning so much that I started yawning. It was too cold to do much with the horses over the cold winter we had, but I’m looking forward to getting back at it now that the shedding is in full swing.
Jim, THANK YOU! Not only do I have a stronger connection with my horses now, but I really feel I will be able help them feel better, even though they are healthy with no issues that initially made me explore your method in the first place.” -Anna-Maria Robinson
New Certified Practitioners
Austria (Styria, Ennstal) and S. Germany
Although not from a ‘horsey’ family, Bridget was able to begin riding lessons at an early age in the UK from where she originates. Despite frequently having to move due to her father’s work, she always managed to find ponies and horses of all shapes and sizes to ride wherever she lived. Her desire to become a vet and help sick animals was not to be and she was sent to college to learn secretarial skills and study French and Spanish. Bridget bought her first pony almost as soon as she started earning a wage. But she wanted to work with and learn more and more about horses, so resigned from her office job to prepare for BHS exams whilst being a working pupil at an equitation centre in the Cotswolds, UK. An opportunity to work in Paris for a year was not to be missed and she was fortunate enough to regularly ride out with a retired officer from the Saumur cavalry school for company! The following year Bridget moved to Germany to work and learn German, spending weekends with Dr Hiltrud Strasser helping to exercise her two Trakhener horses (at the time unaware about Dr Strasser’s developing hoof philosophy). Yet another move took Bridget and her Shagya arab horse south to Munich. There she became interested in natural horsemanship methods of training. Participation in Pat Pirelli weekends, Michael Geitner ‘Dualaktivierung’ and Ian Benson ‘Humanship’ workshops have all helped to broaden Bridget’s knowledge and approach to her interaction with horses. Shortly after completing a basic carriage driving course (Deutsche Fahrabzeichen IV) she was offered a 10 year old retired racing trotter on loan. It was soon evident that this horse had so many pain issues that a visit from a horse physiotherapist inspired Bridget to do a two-year home study course in horse massage and physiotherapy and a further year of cranial osteopathy for horses so that she could help him herself. Then she discovered The Masterson Method®, which gentle holistic method seemed easily to allow the horse to release tension throughout his body, at the same time turning the horse-human relationship into something very special. Horses respond so well to this method and they all love it! Bridget now lives in Stein, Ennstal in Austria and practices The Masterson Method® as her main tool for addressing both physical and behavioral issues in equines.
Phone: 0043 660 499 1090
Ocala Area, FL
Laurel got her first horse when she was in fifth grade and has been riding and training horses ever since. Her first mare (Gracie) was a very green Arabian cross mare that really needed to release tension which she usually did while Laurel was on her back, ending in quite a few unscheduled dismounts! Looking back, Laurel will tell you that she wished Masterson Method was around back then! It wasn’t, but luckily, she found The Masterson Method quite a few years later when she was having difficulty with her competition horse Dexter not “feeling” sound after a particularly bad hoof abscess. It all started with the book. Laurel played with what she read from the book on Dexter and her other horses and got some pretty fantastic results: Licking, chewing, yawning and even a few down dogs. Then Dexter went from moving with his head up, tense back, looking away and bucking into a canter to softly transitioning from a stretchy trot to a canter and becoming thoroughly relaxed under saddle. Laurel couldn’t believe the results she got just from reading a book. And as fate would have it, there was a Weekend Seminar nearby scheduled, so she immediately signed up for that. At the weekend seminar, she couldn’t get enough of the wealth of information and techniques and signed up for the 5 day course taught by Jim. Jim told her she was good at this and she should consider getting certified. She knew that he probably told everyone this, but she really didn’t need any convincing. She knew she wanted to release her own tension from her corporate job in the finance industry and this was exactly what she was looking for, a new career making a difference in the lives of horses and their humans. While working through the certification program, Laurel moved from NC to FL. Laurel currently resides in the Ocala area (Horse Capital Of The World) and combines her love of riding and training using positive reinforcement with The Masterson Method Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork. Laurel especially loves working with clients who want to get relaxed and powerful movement with their horses and wholeheartedly believes that releasing tension in the horses’ body using The Masterson Method Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork is one of the keys to getting that Powerful Movement.