Friday, February 15, 2013

Kate Meyers, Equine Massage

As a huge advocate for therapeutic massage, I believe that a weekly massage can be the cure for most ills; increasing circulation, rejuvenating tired/sore muscles, decreasing overall stress, and keeping the body in tune.

Based in Mount Vernon, Ohio, USA, Kate Meyers is a
Registered Equine Massage Therapist (REMT)
Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT)
Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (CESMT). 


Welcome Kate! 

Kate is the proprietor of 'Top Notch Hands', healing both humans and equines through massage therapy. 

What was your first experience with a horse?
 The first I can remember is being put up on a lovely paint stallion and going for a quick ride with my godmother holding me in front of her. I was two years old then and years later I was able to pay him back for all of the joy he had brought me. He was the sire of my first horse and later my very first official massage therapy project. After three months of intensive work that included massage 1-3 times per week, hydrotherapy and a regimented treatment plan he went from completely lame on even the softest ground to completely sound on gravel. Before and after pictures and video are located here http://www.topnotchhands.com/gallery.html.

Mr. Windmaster after 3 months of therapy.
  
When did you know you wanted to become an equine massage therapist?
As a Sophomore in high school I was introduced to the idea and quickly decided that equine massage was what I was meant to do. My first horse suffered from Navicular Disorder and frequently he would be lame, girthy and generally sensitive all over. A fellow boarder was studying to be a licensed massage therapist and believed massage could help. She taught me a lot and we experimented with timing, pressure and where to apply massage for the best results. With the massage we were able to scale back his medications to almost nothing; he learned how to jump and successfully show against perfectly healthy horses.

The next summer I was allowed to attend the Equissage program (http://www.equissage.com/) even though I wasn’t technically old enough to do so. It’s a great program to get your feet wet, learn some of the basics and start playing with techniques. Quickly I found myself over my head because I would be asked to come out and try to fix something and wouldn’t have a CLUE what I was looking at, let alone what I was supposed to do. Research for a school paper lead me to D’al School of Equine Massage (http://www.darcylane.com/) and there was no question of where I was going to go to college. I firmly believe if you’re going to do something to do it the best you possibly can. There’s no other school that offers such in-depth, intensive program geared specifically to training equine massage therapists. My teachers were veterinarians and seasoned REMTS (Registered Equine Massage Therapists) who worked with everything from backyard horses to Olympic athletes. We learned physiology, anatomy, pathology, equine management, theory and techniques of massage, stretching and hydrotherapy, with every class having lots of hands-on with verbal testing. Looking back I can’t believe that I survived, that I could possibly have learned so much in just two years. I went in a “snot nosed kid” and came out a professional.

A few years later I attended massage therapy school to become licensed to work on people so that I could work on horse and rider teams. With training in both fields, I am able to provide the entire team with the best possible care.

What has been your most rewarding experience as a massage therapist?
Working with injuries and neglect cases has to be the most rewarding part of what I do. Helping them go from stall bound back to their jobs is the most that I can ever ask for. Being allowed to assist the horse and their team in the mutual quest to bring them back to healthy and happy is always an honor.

Last year I did get to experience a new reward. I have started to offer my services at a few select horse shows. The first show I did was an all breed youth show. Watching those kids come out of the ring with a ribbon and huge smile on their faces and knowing that I was there when they needed just that little extra help. That’s the best feeling. It’s the cherry on top of my sundae.

What is the worst case that you have encountered?
High tensile wire injuries stand out as the worst visually, but as long the tendons and muscles remain intact it’s a pretty simple procedure once the horse’s health care team are on the same page.

The most heart breaking case I've come across was my first neglect case. He arrived barely able to hold his head up and simply emaciated. The worst part of the story is that he was located at a reputable trainer’s facility before being bought (unseen) by my client. He was only three years old. (Pictures below).

There is a happy ending to this story although it’s only the beginning. He lucked into a home where he doesn't just have an owner or rider. He has a mom. We slowly and carefully allowed him to gain weight while building the right muscle groups to allow him to progress forward. Within two months he had attended his first show and in eighteen months he entered his first class at The All American Quarter Horse Congress. You never would have been able to guess what his past has been.
Upon arrival to my facility.
One year later. 
Does the weather make a difference in results? 
Weather absolutely plays a part in the results for massage. During warm months it is super-easy to zip through a whole body massage in about an hour and see outstanding results. The warmth allows the blood to remain in the outer tissues longer which allows the body more time to heal itself. During cold months I have to spend much more time getting circulation to and softening the tissue before the true work can begin.

Is there a basic massage that I can do to help my horse?
My favorite way for owners to massage their horses is with a curry comb. If you’re not trying to get hair off your horse I suggest a comb with “fingers” like this one. (link: http://www.bigdweb.com/ROUND-RUBBER-CURRY-LARGE-BRISTLE/productinfo/7825/#) You’ll build upper body strength while cleaning your horse and bringing blood into the muscles before you go for a ride.

If you want to do some hands on, try long strokes in the direction of your horses hair. You don’t need to apply much pressure  This technique is typically referred to as effleurage.

How often should a healthy horse have a massage?  
A healthy horse under regular work is usually started on a monthly plan to help relieve the aches and pains of his job. If your horse has a heavy show schedule and/or is a jumper/reiner/cutter/speed horse I suggest starting with one massage every two weeks for maintenance and adding extra sessions as the horse's schedule dictates.

Personally, I get a massage at least once a month and twice when I'm stressed.

What is your favorite breed? 
That’s a really difficult question! I really don’t have a particular breed but I do have my favorite horses. Horses with a distinct personality that leave an impression on your heart no matter how fleeting you've known them. The ones that you can’t help but compare other horses too. A few Paints, Quarter Horses, an Arabian, several Warmbloods, a Clydesdale gelding and a very special Shire colt stand out in my mind. They have all taught me something, things that without them I’m not sure I would have ever discovered. The most of important of which came from George the Clydesdale – Slow down. Breathe. Listen. And above all, trust yourself.


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1 comment:

Anil said...

Superb. A well structured and informative interview.