Last week, Loni did some bodywork on Lucky. For those of you who do not know, bodywork is something that combines massage, acupressure, and other forms of touch to release tension in an animal of person's body. This an benefit a horse in many, making their muscles more loose and free.
Lucky, as Loni found, had huge amounts of tension in her poll, which could make flexing and coming round difficult. The poll is detrimental when restricted because it can block the energy from flowing through the nuchal ligament, which runs all the way to the tail. If the energy is blocked in the poll, in cannot flow all through the back, as it should when the horse becomes round. Loni worked on releasing Lucky's poll by lightly applying and releasing pressure to that area to release the tension and get Lucky to lower her head. Gently pulling Lucky's head each way one at a time was another way she used to help release the muscle. While she wanted Lucky to do what she asked, Loni never forced it, because that does not help release the tension. Instead, she used light amounts of pressure, causing Lucky to move her head just a teensy bit at a time. Lucky is a very sensitive mare, so stronger motions are rarely necessary with her.
Additionally, Loni worked on releasing Lucky's temporal mandibular joint, or TMJ. The TMJ lies on both sides of the horse's head; it's the protrusion behind the eyes. Releasing this joint, which is connected to the jaw, relaxes the jaw. The tension in the TMJ is likely related to the poll tension, as I learned from the Masterson Method website.
“Issues in your horse’s body have a way of reflecting in his poll and atlas. Therefore, tension and pain he might have from a sore back or compensation for pain in other places - such as the feet - is generally going to collect in these two hot spots. And when the poll tightens up, pain radiates into the TMJ and jaw." ~ Jim Masterson.
Lucky also had restrictions in her pelvis and hip, other important areas. Loni lifted Lucky's tail by a surprising amount to help release some of this tension.
It was interest to watch Lucky's reaction to all this. See, while she is a sensitive horse, and is often quite expressive, she likes to keep mull over her feelings, not sure whether she should reveal them or not. This comes from being the alpha mare in her herd. Showing emotions in a herd can that cause her to be taken advantage, such as tiredness, pain, etc, are weaknesses when shown by a herd leader.
Often, when lunging her, I can see Lucky's teeth grit and lip quiver while she contemplates whether she should snort, stretch, and chew in relaxation. She was the same way when Loni worked on her. She took a long time to begin to react to the bodywork. After a while, though, she began to chew and lick her lips. Eventually, she even yawned. The second day Loni worked on her, the yawning came much sooner, which meant that Lucky was relaxing much sooner.
Loni showed me a few things I can do to benefit Lucky each time a ride(a few muscles and joints I can release).
One last thing–I am doing a show next month instead so I can get a few more weeks of practice. Also, Laura did amazing well at the Championships and I will go into detail in the next post.