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Women & Horses by Mary D. Midkiff - horseback riding fitness techniques for women

Women & Horses, knowledge for the female equestrian; female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

The Women & Horses Newsletter - March 2008

Steps to Calming the Anxious Horse
by Mary D. Midkiff

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I just returned from the Michigan Horse Expo in Lansing, Michigan and want to acknowledge all of you that attended my seminars and demonstrations for your interest, participation and support. It was a very well attended event with a variety of topics and speakers available and the Michigan Horse Council does an amazing job every year of putting on an all-volunteer event.

In my demonstrations I worked with a Quarter Horse, Eli, who was very upset about being away from his buddies, in a round pen in front of a crowd and he was constantly triggered by the sharp sounds of the PA system. I had to use a microphone for everyone to hear me throughout the auditorium but Eli would rather I spoke without it. It was a challenge but over the 45 minute demonstration by using The InBalance Oil blend, mouth massage, acupressure, massage and energy tapping we had a calm, quiet puppy dog by the end of the session. The second day he came around even quicker and was so happy to have his security with his humans again.

So many people have asked me to share the steps with them and I promised I would put this information on my website so here it is!!

I want to first acknowledge the two main sources of my work. Peggy Cummings is my mentor and a master of working with all aspects of the horse and rider partnership. Peggy led me to a whole new way to look at and work with horses and I will be eternally grateful for her contribution. Linda Tellington Jones created this mouth massage work while working with zoo animals and has used it on dogs and horses successfully for many years. Linda is a pioneer in the horse industry and continues to make a difference in the lives of horses and their people. She features her mouth massage work in several of her books. The rest I have learned from various experts and inside of my own findings blended all of it together to get these positive results over and over. I have yet to find a horse that has not loved the work, been grateful for it and so happy to have this connection with his or her handler/owner.

FIRST AND FOREMOST you must clear yourself before you approach your horse or any horse. This means taking a moment to let go of everything that is going on in your head. Stop the voice that is telling you what you should be doing, reminding you of all the things you have to do, and going on and on about all the issues and problems you are facing. Just say “get off it!” if you have to and create a new open space of nothing. Leave work, family, physical issues, all of it behind you and step into a new space called your horse’s world. You want to be totally blank and empty when you enter your horse’s environment. It makes a huge difference in how they interact with you.

If you need some help in this area use aromatherapy to clear yourself. I can recommend a few such as lavender, mandarin, lemon, basil and others to give you that sense of uplift and ease. I am looking into creating a new aromatherapy product just for this purpose.

*Your horse will need to have a snug fitting halter on for this work.

Now that you are clear, rub some of the InBalance Oil blend on your hands and approach your horse with your hands open to him or her. It’s okay to let them lick it, my horse loves it! Let them smell it and get to know you for a minute or so then begin your mouth and muzzle massage work. Even if your horse is resistant, hold onto the halter noseband and start to work around the corners of the lips.

Each time you are with your horse try to do all or some of these techniques before you do your ground or mounted work. This way you always set up your time with your horse in a very positive and relaxing way. I know many people take the horse out and lunge to let the horse move and buck and run. But I have found that if I always start out with the aromatherapy and massage work we don’t have to do all that “wearing them down” lunge work in order to start training them.

*It is important to allow them a minute or so between each technique to think and process the chemical release.

*Adjust the time of each technique to your horse’s own needs. If you see results quickly you will only give 10 seconds to each technique, if you see very slow results you may need to give 30 seconds to each technique. And over time you may need to do less and less.

  1. Start on one side of the horse and do all of the techniques then do it all again on the other side. It doesn’t matter which side you start with but notice the responses you get on each side, they may be very different.
  2. Apply the oils around the nostrils. Rub the oils into the horse’s nostrils. Then place your fingertips in the nostrils and using the heel of your hand rub the corners of their lips in circles. If the horse is very sensitive to your fingers in his nostrils then just rub on the corner of the lips. Massage for about 20 seconds then let the horse stand and think about it for a minute.
  3. Soften the muzzle – Use your whole hand all over the muzzle. Imagine you are softening a hard orange. 20 seconds and release.
  4. Rub the upper gum under the upper lip – Using a flat hand with all of your fingers together, go in through the bars of the mouth and onto the upper gum under the upper lip. Some horses are very tight there but you need to stick with it and stroke back and forth with your flat hand. You may want to moisten your hand before you do this as some horses have dry mouths. 20 seconds and release. This is a very powerful endorphin release location.
  5. Stroke the upper palate – Place your thumb into the bars of the mouth and softly stroke the upper soft palate. Stroke back and forth with your thumb. 20 seconds and release.
  6. Play piano on the tongue – Place your whole hand inside the bars of the mouth and with your four fingers play the piano on your horse’s tongue. You choose the music!! 20 seconds and release.
  7. Massage the jaw muscles with your fingertips all the way up to the eye socket area.
  8. Massage the poll area behind the ears, wait for him to drop his head and release before stopping. This may be very tight and sore so go softly at first.
  9. Use acupressure on the upper neck area (Triple Heater 16 is the name of the point). Approx. 4-6 back from the ears down the mane line then approx. 4 inches straight down. Find the small indentation and press for about 30 seconds then massage that area. This is the most powerful acupressure release point that I have found.
  10. Crawl up his neck with your hand wide open to get him to stretch out with his head and neck.
  11. Break up the tension in the top mane line of his neck by lifting his mane up at the roots as you go up and down the whole mane line and/or get your fingers around the mane line and work them until you feel it soften.

Remember do all of this on each side of the horse. I would practice these techniques every time you are with your horse and make it part of your grooming time. If you don’t have a lot of time then do the aromatherapy and mouth massage.

All of this work is designed to balance the emotions, calm the nervous system and give the horse a sense of peace, safety and comfort every time you are around. It will make a huge difference when you are in a crisis or challenging situation such as trailering, horse shows, trail rides, veterinary and farrier care, clipping, and on and on.

I have had two people call me in the last week to tell me how it is working for them. Kathryn Nesbit of Milltown, Indiana writes to say that she used the InBalance Oil when the vet was trying to draw blood for a Coggins Test and they could not hit an artery. Once the oil blend began to work they were able to take the blood sample. What was difficult and dangerous turned into calm and accepting. Kathryn says that now she will use the oil blend on her horses when she knows the vet is on his way.

CJ DiPietra of Synergist Saddles used the InBalance Oil when her vet came out to give her new three year old his shots. Rimrock would not let the vet get near him so CJ said “wait I know just what to do.” She went and got the bottle of the oil blend rubbed the oils on her hands, put a dab on the vet and rubbed it into Rimrock’s nostrils. Rimrock was at peace and the vet had no trouble from then on and the horse was fully accepting.

I hope all of you who have purchased the oil blend are satisfied with what it is doing for you and your horse. Please share your stories!

TIP: Instead of worming every 8 weeks or using daily wormers why not have your horse tested. www.horsemenslab.com (800-544-0599) offers a service of checking your horse’s worm levels every three months. For $12 per test, the lab will send you a kit for you to take a small manure sample and mail it to them. The kit includes the baggie, a scooper, a plastic container and a postage-paid return envelope. You get the results back quickly via email or snail mail. If the horse is negative there is no need to worm. If it is positive they will tell you which worms to de-worm for. I have been using this lab for many years and prefer it to giving the horse toxins when he may not need them.

I am planning to create some clinic opportunities here in Louisville this summer for you to bring your horse or come audit and learn all of these techniques, plus ground and mounted work. It will be a lot of fun! Let me know if you are interested as we create dates and a location.

Spring is Sprung! Happy Shedding, Mary

Mary D. Midkiff

New Phone Numbers: Office 502-552-1195

Mary will be at Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12 at the Synergist Saddles booth in the Bricker Building. Mary will have her oil blend and books with her and can balance you in the Synergist Saddles made for women. Stop by the booth and say hi!

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