Friends for Therapuetic Equine Activities (FTEA) used to be located near my home in Winfield. It is a wonderful organization that I volunteered with for a few seasons over the past few years. They provide riding lessons to children and adults with a wide range of therapuetic needs. They are now located in Wayne and worth a look if you have someone in your life who might benefit. They were cutting edge on the therapuetic riding scene years ago and have continued their mission since being founded in 1996!
One weekend they hosted a volunteer training program that included an introduction to the Masterson Method of Equine Bodywork. We volunteers learned how to assist the therapuetic riding horses in the program by providing them with the Bladder Meridian Technique. These horses ranged from Irish Sport Horses, retired from the hunter/jumper show circuit, to Icelandic Horses and Quarter Horses. Certainly they presented an interesting range of sizes, confirmations and issues, with the differing personalities to match. The most they seemed to have in common was how much they loved the bodywork!
The relief and relaxation that the Masterson Method work provided for all of the horses was obvious. I was intrigued, to say the least!! Beyond treats, grooming, attention or anything else that could be provided for these horses, the bodywork seemed to be something they both enjoyed and needed. Even the stoic Icelandic Horses, who rarely showed a release visually, improved in their ability to carry themselves and their riders.
Here was a group of horses who not only had their own aches and pains associated with life, but they took on the physical and emotional needs of their students/trainers and handlers and stayed SAFE! Sometimes this meant there were three people walking alongside to steady the person sitting on their back. Anyone who knows horses, knows this is a lot for them and their nervous systems to handle. They amaze me with their grace and gentleness everytime I think of them.
The fact that this Bladder Meridian Technique could be done with little training or oversight, by different volunteers, in 15-30 minute blocks. On top of that, it could be offered without requiring them to stand for yet another person pushing and pulling on them, physically and emotionally. That is where I first saw the genius in this technique.
An injury to my own back meant I could no longer volunteer with FTEA after last fall. I will forever remember working with those amazing horses (and people :). A seed was planted in my mind about the value and use of Masterson Method bodywork with different populations, even though I wouldn’t immediately see how to implement it.