Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Riding in Ohio: An Interview with Tina Romine

Offering oil to a foal
photo by Brad Harter

Riding in Ohio: An Interview with Tina Romine
No duplication without permission.
Archived from the May 2021 issue of Florida Equine Athlete.

Living in Ohio you only have to look around the corner to find a horse person. There are many seasoned equestrians in my vicinity. Learning from them is important and wise - sometimes good advice can be found from the rider down the road.

Recently I connected with Ohio horsewoman Tina Romine. Residing in Athens, Ohio, Tina has a lot to say about horses. Tina is the proprietor of TREESLLC – Tina Romine Equine Education Specialist. She has a long history of horsemanship and she is willing to share her expertise with others. 

Welcome, Tina!

GM: Every horse-lover has a first encounter with a horse. When did you meet your first horse?
TR: My first real encounter with a pony was at Anglers Paradise, a club in Lancaster Ohio, that my father belonged to. I was about four years old and in my excitement ran right behind a pony mare and her foal and got kicked right in the stomach both barrels. Lol.
GM: Getting kicked by a pony is no fun, but I am sure that did not diminish your love for horses! Tell us about your horse history…
TR:  I attended Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (OSUATI) in the early 70s and studied Equine Management specializing in Standardbred Race Horses. I was eventually hired as a OSUATI technician to oversee the racehorses and teach classes on the care and management of racehorses (lameness issues was my specialty). Eventually I left OSUATI and pursued a career as a professional groom. I trained racehorses and had a reputation for helping lame horses make it to the track. My horses raced in Northern Ohio Stakes Races, Northfield Park, Toledo Raceway, Scioto Downs, and trials in Kentucky. I loved it, but my dream was to be a racehorse driver and compete, but back in the 70s it was very hard for a woman to succeed and become a driver.  So, eventually I became disillusioned with the industry and gave up my career and moved back to Nelsonville, Ohio. Fast forward to 1987 and a career in between, I applied for a job at Hocking College which was starting a new horse program in Backcountry Horsemanship. I landed the job and taught wilderness riding classes, managed the barn, and expanded my education in Wilderness Survival, Wilderness EMT (Emergency Medical Training), and several other certificate classes through the National Ranger Training Institute. We expanded our program from certificates to four associate degrees and I eventually oversaw three of them - one I am very proud of is Equine Health Care and Complimentary Therapies, which also included the Broodmare program. The classes were slowly developed. I received special training and certificates, working along-side veterinarian William Harnetty who is not only an excellent Western traditional medicine veterinarian, but an Eastern medicine acupuncturist and chiropractor. Our team developed quite a reputation for a complete health care program. Training was very broad in anatomy with full dissection, health care classes, foaling, and therapies of acupressure, massage, and essential oils. Many of our students ended up in the health care field of veterinarian technicians (vet techs), a few veterinarians, and human health care careers. In that time frame I was able to receive specialized equine training through Ohio State University’s Equine Breeding program and Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute (who were very involved in the training) to pass on to our students. During my tenure at Hocking College as a professor I also completed my bachelor’s degree in business management from Circleville Bible College (now known as Ohio Christian University). In 2012, because of health and personal reasons, I decided to take an early retirement and started my business TREESLLC (Tina Romine Equine Education Specialist).

GM: As a certified equine massage therapist using essential oils what can I expect from an essential oil treatment for my horse?
TR: I am an animal practitioner specializing in massage, acupressure and aromatherapy/essential oils aromatherapy is the use of plant oils that are volatile (easily evaporated) including essential oils, for the psychological and physical well-being. Essential oils can play an important role in assisting people and animals to get beyond emotional barriers and sometimes traumatic events. As the aromatic molecules are absorbed in the bloodstream from the nasal cavity to the limbic system they will sedate and relax the horse while activating the memory center for fear and trauma. For example, we acquired a horse who was head shy and had been abused and was dangerous to approach and try to halter. I would stand back and open an oil - one was called valor with blue tansy.  The horse slowly each time I approached would let me get closer and yawn and release negative-energy, eventually allowing me to apply topically. Then to handle face poll and ears and then to halter. It was a slow patient process but amazing to see it unfold.

When using essential oils on the horse “first” I let them be a part of the session by offering them different oils after assessing their needs and letting them choose which oil is best… in nature horses seek a variety of different plants based on their needs. The horse will give you definite signs of accepting a particular oil by releasing with yawning, eyes softening trying to eat the bottle of oil (lol) they will turn away when it’s not the beneficial oil for them .so inhalation is one way I use the oil and you will sometimes see an immediate reaction of relaxation and calming or with a lethargic older horse or depressed horse you might see the opposite effect of eyes brightening and energy increasing as if you turned the light back on. Because I am an acupressurist I also use oils to enhance my acupressure points by applying them topically to the points which can be beneficial to the session, some horses I work on have emotional issues from past trauma or stress which may affect them long term physically and they are just shut down. Essential oils can assist in peeling off the layers and getting to the root of the issue especially in horses that are stoic and non-expressive and horses that may exhibit manic behavior. Essential oils can assist you in grounding them and getting them to focus. Every horse is different so every session is different and I have learned a big lesson that sometimes less is more. I know owners who throw everything at their horse in search of solutions and then they don’t know what worked or if it worked. The horse needs 48 to 72 hours to process the session (circadian clock so to speak) and to release  toxins and repair. Horses can sometimes go through what we practitioners call a healing crisis and may get worse before they get better. Then in repeating another session you will discover many times you change your session as the first layer has been peeled off, in a sense it’s like muddying up the water in a pond and then watching it clear.

GM: Do you have a favorite horse-related anecdote to share?
TR: It’s hard to share one anecdote naming a favorite horse. Throughout my career with horses I have been the guardian to so many, but the horse that helped me the most with aromatherapy and appreciating its impact is my longtime partner, Bubba, who lives at the farm with me and is now about 34-35 years young. He was an excellent teacher to myself and my students when it came to the therapies. He is a very stoic, yet emotional, horse. You could see how the therapy sessions allowed him to release negative energy and physical pain and transform in front of our eyes. He always said, “Go big or go home.” Bubba was also my mounted patrol horse that led the class I taught at Hocking College called “Campus Park Patrol.” He was so diverse and so amazing. Whether in aromatherapy, massage, Campus Park, wilderness pack trips, field trials or raising money for the American Heart Association’s beach ride, we were a team and have such trust for each other and amazing adventures. There will never be another Bubba.

GM: Wow! Bubba sounds like a sensational horse! The horse of a lifetime! Do you have a favorite horse breed?
TR: I will always have a love and respect for my first true love, Standardbreds. But through the years I have an equal love to the gaited breeds for which I can thank my life-partner Brad Harter who introduced me to this outstanding versatile breed, especially the Tennessee Walkers. They are so kind, intelligent, and beautiful. I admire them, but truly I appreciate and love all breeds of equine and just recently acquired a special gift for our granddaughter Violet of a Choctaw pony.

GM: A Choctaw pony is every little girl’s dream! How special! As a seasoned horsewoman, what is your best advice for novice riders and those looking to purchase their first horse?
TR: My best advice to novice and first time horse owners’ is don’t get a young two or three year old in horse years. It’s equivalent to a nine year old child who wants to challenge you and test the waters. Get an older horse that has taught others how to ride and has been exposed to a variety of stimulus, they will give you more confidence and safe experience. Through the years I have literally taught hundreds, maybe thousands to ride. My best teacher was my horses and knowing how to match them with the right student. Seek an experienced horse person to help you get the right match and always get a soundness exam for the horse. Don’t buy just for the looks of the animal.

GM: Where in the world is your favorite place to ride?
TR: One of my favorite places to ride is in the Bridger Tetons in Wyoming. We would take our students out West each summer on pack trips to volunteer for the US Forest Service and become part of a trail crew with assigned areas to clear trails, build bridges, work on forest service cabins, in grizzly and some of the most remote country. For me, the reason it was my favorite was not just for the fabulous scenery but to see my students in action. We traveled with our huge trailer full of horses and mules – 2,000 across country and packed into a remote trail head. Seeing those students in Level I riding class getting the strict prerequisites for this advanced packing class and putting all of their skills together, was rewarding and life changing. I have been so blessed in my career with horses and might I add many times in those wilderness settings we used those complimentary therapies to help a horse.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
TR: Horsemanship means to me the privilege you have earned through educating yourself about horses and to meet their needs first physically and emotionally and respectfully. You earn the gift of getting to be in the company of these majestic animals it is a gift you receive and give back to the horse horsemanship is truly a feel of the horse it’s not just about setting on the horse’s back.

Connect with Tina…

photo by Brad Harter

Presenting an Acupressure and essential oil clinic at Home of Joy Farm LLC

Donating an essential oil session to a rescued Donkey at Bella Run Equine that had recently lost his mate and had been depressed photo by Brad Harter

Acupressure to a geriatric draft horse


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