I locally am known as a voodoo lady. I know where it came from, but I don’t know why it’s sticking. I saw a horse and did bladder meridian with him to get started. Mind you, that was just to get started with our session. I did make a lasting impression on the owner with my “magical” effect on the horse I was with.
I guess, before we get too into this, I should explain something more. I've asked clients what they consider the Masterson Method as. I’ve heard energy healing, acupressure, massage, voodoo, stretching, magic-that-works, etc. All are right. What’s cool is how you think about it has to do with what you know. A reiki or energetic person is going to say energy. A massage minded person may say massage or stretching. It’s this grey area where it stands all on its own, and by trying to compare - we are doing it a disservice. That’s my two cents, at least. Also, by labeling it, we create expectations and those, in all forms, need to get out of the damn stall too.
In MM sessions we do mobilizations, releases, and point work. With my physical background, I relate it to PNF stretching, craniosacral, and this weird mix of voodoo (if the shoe freaking fits, I guess), not chiropractic but playing with the whole range of motion - so also the bones...., not quite massage - I don’t do much kneading or strokes to be honest, and not really physical therapy either. It’s just Masterson. Why can’t we take a hint from the horses we love and not be so label happy? Damn frontal lobes.
The point work? That’s magic. It’s truly not, but that’s where the magical terms come from. These are usually located on musculoskeletal junctions which include joints. By melting that area with point work, it makes releases and mobilizations much easier. Why? We’re peeling off the first (or first 20) layers of tension. Some heavy hitters here are hind end points (like hip, SI point, stifle point) or opening the bladder meridian and working through tension build ups as we do. If the horse can sense a fly touching it, they can feel you and your presence. They know your intention and presence. They know you’re in their bubble. They have large bubbles. They know! Both the bladder meridian and hind end points can be found on YouTube under the Masterson Method page for more information.
We love horses for their ability to heal and be with us. Being with them soothes us. We seek out their solitude when we have a bad day, we know they are sensitive, we know they have this magical ability to melt away our worries - and yet, as humans, we struggle to grasp their sensitive nature as their innate being. Ironic, isn't it?
The prey animal in them will hold on to several things like soreness, tension, and compensation. They don’t want to show it, so they deny it and hide it... but deep down their body is holding onto that stress. Blinks correlating with the stressors, are silent cries for attention. If you relieve these stressors, the horse goes from stressed (sympathetic) to relieved (parasympathetic) states in their nervous system. I’ll speak more about this at the end. The blinks aren’t quackery when they correspond to something. They truly are a quiet way of expressing their prey instinct to hide discomfort - and this is just a way to get in that vulnerable state with them that they “let it slip”. If you do too much with too much presence, intention, and pressure they will brace or flee. Vulnerability is hard.
Because of the connections in the body, don’t get too caught up in one area having blinks consistently. Make a note and keep doing the work. You may resolve it at a different spot on the horse.
The releases? For most of them, I like to think of it as keeping it stupid simple “stretches” without stretching. Confused yet? PNF type stretching in humans comes to mind as a way you can feel a similar release on yourself. I remember doing so on the volleyball courts to help my tight hamstrings. I’m sure you can YouTube it to get the idea, but it’s the one where (for hamstrings), while laying on your back, someone raises your leg until you feel the pull then you push against them for 5 seconds-ish, and then you relax and they find a new point of resistance. You repeat the cycle and voila, you’re “stretched” and released. These were my favorite - largely because of the efficiency. These are great for the shoulder, the pelvis, & the hind limb of the horse. They also save my body from traditional stretches in these areas for the horse. In MM releases, you feel the point of resistance, push up into the limb and continue guiding down the ground or next point of resistance to release the girdle. The scapula release can be found on YouTube in the Masterson Method page, as an example.
Then there are the mobilizations. LCF comes to mind. I'll never forget when Mrs. Becky T got all up in my bubble and made sure I felt it. Along with sharing the analogy of greasing up every cervical junction with WD-40 (Aka my presence and intention on a blink triggering spot under my soft finger) and wiggling each junction like a door hinge to restore the range of motion. Once more, you work with the horses blinks and point of resistance - that’s an overarching principle of MM, so you know exactly where and how to help. LCF can be found on YouTube under the Masterson Method page for those interested.
Every nuance weighs on the horse. Pain from a saddle that doesn't fit right, locked movement from imbalanced teeth only equals more tension and restrictions throughout the body, which only increases the stressed out state of the horse. Maybe they are mentally stressed because of their friend leaving them. Maybe they have ulcers, too. Maybe they crib to try and comfort themselves for whatever reason, only truly building more stress in their body and forming an addiction. This is where the ’nervous system biohack’ (as I say) comes in. The body tries to preserve itself (prey instincts anyone?) and locks down the tissue around the issue. Maybe this is a misalignment now or could be, maybe its a spasming muscle, maybe it’s a horse that can’t cope with ANYTHING. Say hello to the sympathetic state.
Those 3 key junctions most impacting performance Jim speaks of? Yeah, those are the equine's nerve hubs. They are also part of the hardwiring, as well as connecting the fascia, soft tissue like laminae, tendons, ligaments and muscles, skeletal and organs. It all talks, it all can 'scream', it can 'silence', and it leads the body as it responds.
When you resolve the stressors, you put them in a more parasympathetic state rather than the sympathetic state. This is where they lick and chew, where they yawn, where they relax their hip, droop their lip, drool, drop their head, become softer. The eye relaxes, and this is where my human clients say “my horse loves you!” This is where they heal, process, recalibrate and rest. The parasympathetic state.
Yes, we definitely have special moments in their stall, and maybe your horse thinks I’m a cool human for breaking that stress-trap that happens in life with their nervous system's hardwiring. But really, I’m just doing effective work. I’m asking and relieving their body, with themselves every step of the way. This is why their performance improves as well as their behavior... everything I’ve written is involved in this package deal called the Masterson Method Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork, and it’s part of why I chose this program compared to the gazillion others.
Hi - I'm Lindsay. This is my outlet for sharing my thoughts, rambling and journey I've been on as an equine therapist, entrepreneur and horsewoman. I live in the ruggedly wild Wyoming and have a love for hounds, curly horses, margaritas and anatomy. Thanks for stopping by!