For The Horse Integrated Equine Bodywork

For The Horse Integrated Equine Bodywork Integrated, non-invasive equine bodywork, I can help your horse release tension in his body, improve physical and mental well being & performance

ForTheHorse provides tension relief, improving the horses mental and physical well being through craniosacral therapy, myofascia release, accupressure and Masterson Method. By allowing the horse to tune in and feel his body, he can do amazing things to heal himself, we just need to help him get there. Contact me for your horses well being.

Vetkin Tape

Vetkin Tape

Does your horse need body work??
We do something that is completely unnatural for the horse, we put saddles on (that often are not optimal), we put our crooked bodies on them, we put shoes on them and alter their hoof balance, we feed diets that are often unbalanced or full of inflammatory foods, we put them in small paddocks and take away the movement and browsing they are designed to have and on top of this they are one sided and often born with rib fractures, sacroiliac issues and wither restrictions let alone the fact they could have a congenital malformation in their skeleton. So the question is not do we overtreat, the question is the quality of your body worker, the quality of your saddle fit, the quality of your dentist, the fit of the bit, your riding balance and ability, the quality of your horses diet, the quality of your farrier and the relationship with your horse. I am an Animal Biomechanical Medicine vet, I have dissected in detail myself and with renowned Equine Scientist Sharon May-Davis over 16 horses and the only one without joint degeneration/arthritis and many issues was a wild look in Netherlands. I am yet to put my hands on a horse and say there are no problems. Maintenance is the key and with the above things in place often this can be every 6-8 weeks but many are not at this regime due to ongoing contributing factors. The horse will keep on giving way beyond their physical capabilities. I have seen many lame horses in pain at top levels and they are winning and performing. Learn to listen to your horse, listen to their ears, their facial expressions and their behaviour- many people refuse to hear what the horse is telling them. Really see all they accept and all they give, they deserve joint supplements and quality body work to be a part of their every day care if we want to do the things we do with them. Dr. Raquel Butler

A bit of time connecting with your horse  each day, can give you great insight to how he feels from one day to the next

A bit of time connecting with your horse each day, can give you great insight to how he feels from one day to the next

What Kind of Orange is your Horse?

"Horses want to please us and if a horse refuses to work for us, we have to consider that he may be in pain, does not understand what is asked of him, or is physically not able to deliver. I have ridden thousands of horses, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I met a horse who truly did not want to work because of his character. I can count many times over the horses who I found to be in pain or sore, were confused... "

In the past, we have talked on this page about how "Touch Means You are Not Alone" and what touch communicates to our horses, how it can soothe, calm, reassure, encourage, welcome, shelter but also reward, vitalize and above all else bond and connect us together.

By the same token, when you touch your horse carefully and pay attention to how the muscles feel under your hand: soft, knotty, hot, cold, dry, jelly or wood like, you get all kinds of clues about how his body and mind feels.

Does your horse flinch? pin his ears, turn to look at you with curiosity, lean into or away from you? Does his eye soften, dulls or winces? Does his breath catch or deepen? Does he refuse the bit and move away from the saddle? Dances around the mounting block even after years of training?

Do you enjoy touching him? or are you wary and worried you are about to be bitten or kicked. Are there parts of your horse that are routinely not easy for you to touch? His poll for example or girth area? Is there a leg he wont give you? Does his back drop sharply to his ribs or is it lined with plump long and round muscles? Does he let you lift and move his tail around or clamps it down sharply?

What does his body tell you when you look at his reactions NOT as disobedience but as an expression of wellbeing or discomfort? What does how much or little he/she allows you to handle him/her mean?

A few minutes spent looking at and touching your horse mindfully is an invaluable tool for catching restrictions or soreness before they develop into something bigger or into a fight under saddle. It is a performance optimizer besides being kind.

" A well horse's flesh looks and feel like a round and full orange with fresh pulp bursting with juice and energy. It is plump and elastic and it has a shine that comes from within, a healthy glow.

If a horse's body looks and feel like an old orange, greyed and shrunk by dehydration and time, the juice long evaporated, leaving behind dried up fiber, the muscles are no longer getting good blood flow, oxygen and energy.

These muscles wont work very well, they will tire and tear more easily, and when you touch them, they will be lackluster, dull, dry, flatish or hard and the horse will avoid being touched or stand stoically, waiting for the hand to move away.

Sometimes an orange still looks normal on the outside but the juice is gone, as is the taste and pleasure..sometimes a horse can still look pretty, but the body is no longer healthy"

"...The more I work with horses the more I learn that muscles and bones do not lie and neither does the horse. .."

PS: This handsome horse belongs to Robin and Stefan who have done a phenomenal job of bringing him back into wellness and trust.

©manolomendez 2013

Great reminder for developing the horse to be healthy in his mind and body. Lots of rest , after every answer he gives y...

Great reminder for developing the horse to be healthy in his mind and body. Lots of rest , after every answer he gives you, will help him feel good to be engaged with you

Why trainers PUSH horses TOO FAST

Klaus Balkenhol explains, "Although breeders have created a better horse, the market has created a demand for a stronger, healthier, more powerful horse. It's easier to sell a horse that looks
like a carefully developed eight-year-old, and not like a three- or four-year-old just beginning his career. If you force it, you can get a three-year-old to physically look like a developed eight-year-old. Too many colts remain stallions which, if approved, promise breeders higher prices as three-year-olds. Now 250 to 300 young stallions are presented each year, when only 40 or 50 will be approved.
Few breeders have the sense to geld the yearling stallions and leave them on the pasture to mature naturally. Instead, yearling stallions are brought into a stall, fed too much grain, and at three, look like six- or seven-year-olds. They have muscle mass, but not enough bone structure to support it. They look mature from the outside but aren't . . . and when started to work, degeneration sets in. Competitions also create pressure to push horses too fast as competitions are now scheduled throughout the year without any breaks."

Common Mistakes In Pushing Too Fast
Tightening the noseband: "A horse resists by sticking out his tongue. Tightening the noseband too much puts pressure on the nose and on the poll. If it is necessary to tighten the noseband very tightly, then something has gone very wrong in the basic training of the horse. The horse cannot be relaxed, the first step on the training scale," warns Klaus.

Specializing too early: "Drilling every day in the indoor arena is too intense for the young horse. It's very important, especially in the first two years of training, not to specialize the young horse. Training should include a variety of activities, including trail riding, which is good for the mind as well as building strength with hill work. It should include jumping, either free or low jumps under saddle, including small natural obstacles on the trail, and cavaletti. A variety of work will allow the horse to stay mentally fresh and to enjoy his work. Only when the horse is happy can dressage become art."

Not checking tack frequently: "Saddle and tack need to be checked constantly for proper fit and adjusted as the horse's body changes with growth, and as his fitness improves with the
training. If the noseband gets too low, for example, and the skin between the noseband and the bit is rubbed and becomes sore, this causes the horse discomfort and loss of relaxation.
Regularly check for sharp edges and bit problems in the horse's mouth and teeth."

Working too long: "The goal of our training is to build the horse's mind and his muscles. Suppleness and relaxation require adequate muscle strength. strengthening requires both contraction and relaxation. Blood flow and oxygenation occur when the muscle relaxes. If the muscle is kept in a constant state of contraction, it loses power and strength, and actually becomes smaller.
Frequent rest periods, especially for a young horse at a free walk on a long rein, are necessary. The rest periods are not for a rider's fatigue, but to allow the horse to stretch and relax his muscles. The rest breaks will give you a completely new horse. This is the systematic gymnasticizing of the horse."

Riding when the horseman is tense: "Horses are particularly sensitive to the rider's mood. A rider shouldn't ride if she is under undue stress or doesn't have the time to ride. If the rider has a bad day, give the horse a rest day or go for a relaxing trail ride; don't work in the arena. The horse mirrors the rider's mood."

Not praising the horse enough: "The horse must perform from joy, not subservience. Praising a horse frequently with voice, a gentle pat, or relaxing the reins is very important to keep the horse interested and willing. If the horse offers piaffe, for instance, because he's excited, praise him for it. You shouldn't stop the lesson at that point nor make a big deal out of it. If you don't want piaffe, quietly urge him forward into trot, but you should NEVER
punish him for offering the piaffe.

" the horse is lightly worked in hand for 1 to 2 years before adding rider"

" the horse is lightly worked in hand for 1 to 2 years before adding rider"

Compromise and Teamwork: Starting the Young Horse Under Saddle & Setting Hîm Up for Success

Thank you to our working student Lynn Ruesseler for not only taking these photos of Topaz and Lucero but for writing a summary of some of the work they depict:

« Both of the horses, once they were comfortable lunging with the saddle and walking with the rider on began lunging with the rider.

They will be on the lunge until they are comfortable in trot and have begun to find their balance while carrying a rider.

Manolo will then have the rider start to use the reins to:

🔹Steer a little

🔹Add the cue of the reins in the halt.

This they will do assisted by Manolo who uses his bamboo and in-hand techniques. Both horses have worked lightly in-hand a year to two years prior to being started under saddle using Manolo’s techniques.

Once the horses begins to understand the rider’s cues then Manolo will unclip the lead and they will walk together (horse/rider/Manolo) around the arena. Manolo will be there to assist the horse at any moment to avoid resistance or tension caused by uncertainty.

Slowly, Manolo will allow a bigger and bigger gap between him and the horse until he stands in the middle of the arena and the rider guides the horse around the arena.

The rider in this case is a young professional rider called Martina who exercices race horses and trains jumpers. She is calm, balanced and very experienced staying out of the way of the young horses. If they lose their balance or speed up, she knows how to flow with their motion without tensing, blocking or pulling. This allows Manolo to focus on what is happening and help the horse. Finding the right rider for these first rides is something Manolo stresses the importance of.

All Manolo will ask of the horse at this stage is to go around the arena and occasionally across the diagonal to change reins.

As always manolo stresses COMPROMISE.

If you want the horse to go to R and the horse wants to go to P you will end up at B and that is OK.”

NOTE: Manolo starts this process using a bit-less bridle and will transition to a bitted when the horse has developed its balance under saddle and understand basic rider cues.

To learn more about Manolo’s lunging, in-hand work and how he transitions the young horses from lunging to riding, check our basic in-hand dvd and free articles at:

©️ Manolo Mendez Dressage 2019

The Osteopathic Vet

The Osteopathic Vet

Headshaking Horses: Fascial Connections

With spring upon us we have our usual onslaught of allergy-related headshaking.
However, what if your horse headshakes all year round????

It is upsetting for both the rider and the horse. Furthermore it can often be hard for orthodox veterinary medicine to tackle it.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, it could well be that your horse is suffering with what could best be described as "mechanical headshaking".
Rather than it being a response to a pollen or other allergens it is as a result of physical irritation.

It can often be seen that it occurs during exercise. Whether immediately or as the workload or pressure increases.

One of the key nerves that is linked to headshaking is called the TRIGEMINAL nerve. It is the fifth of twelve cranial nerves that come from the brain to supply predominantly the head and neck of the horse.
To get from the brain within the skull to outside the skull, these nerves need to pass through openings/holes in the skull.

The skull itself is made up of lots of bones, knitted together like a patchwork quilt or more accurately like a set of cogs. All of the bones in the skull move. Some a lot and some not so much but they ALL MOVE.

When the skull bones are all moving correctly, these openings/holes in the skull have nice wide gaps for these nerves to pass through. If however these openings are narrowed then the nerve becomes restricted. A restricted nerve can become inflamed and irritated. Irritation can lead to hypersensitivity and HEADSHAKING.

The TRIGEMINAL nerve passes through holes in the skull very close to the jaw (TMJ - Tempero-mandibular Joint). Therefore anything that may add tension to the TMJ can lead to changes in these holes and therefore restrict and irritate these nerves.

The TMJ and surrounding region is incredibly important.
Locally we have the TEETH and JAW. Dental issues, bitting/tack problems, poor diet and bad riding style to name a few can lead to issues in the mouth and so TMJ.
In addition the HYOID attaches to part of the temporal bone (the bone that puts the T in TMJ!). The hyoid not only suspends the tongue and larynx/pharynx but is a key component to the FASCIAL SYSTEM.

It is the FASCIAL SYSTEM that creates all the wonderfully intricate connections throughout the body.
Fascia is a connective tissue like clingfilm/seran wrap that covers every tissue in the body. Ie bones, muscles, tendons, organs, blood vessels etc etc. It is the fascial therefore that connects everything physically.

FASCIAL STRAIN can cause tension from one area of the body to spread to another. One example is that it strongly connects the motion of the TMJ with the SI (Sacro-iliac) in the pelvis... It is therefore one of the reasons you will find a right SI problem (off hind) and tension on the right TMJ that causes the horse to bend it's head to the right. The problem can also go the other way too. There are other reasons for TMJ and SI issues but fascia is firmly on the list.

If you therefore have a headshaker then it is wise to ensure that the WHOLE HORSE is evaluated and as many possible connections are considered and dealt with.

So while fascial release is part of our treatment process it is never used in isolation. As with all therapies it needs a multi-faceted approach to release as much tension as possible in as many ways as possible.
A thorough evaluation is key to understand which parts need tackling. In some cases further veterinary investigation via ultrasound, radiographs (xrays) or even computed tomography is necessary to help understand the issue.

It can be a slow process but in the right cases you can get some very good results.

Below are some pictures relating to headshaking taken from Google.

Taking time to feel of and observe your horse, maybe in place of a ride, could make a big difference for your horse

Taking time to feel of and observe your horse, maybe in place of a ride, could make a big difference for your horse

"....With every new horse I meet, I spend the time to observe its body while it is standing and while it is moving. Just by looking at it, I can already learn a lot about how it feels inside as an individual, how it will move, and the reasons why it will not be able to bend well or extend or collect.

Its muscles patterns, how it stands, and how it organizes its posture and balance will give me the keys to how I must work with him/her....

extract from "What The Topline Says About Horse and Rider" published last in Equine Naturally. Thank you Equine Naturally for the layout - FREE download:

You can also purchase Manolo's 3 hour DVD on intro to in-hand work on Vimeo, it contains a segment on evaluating your horse 🙂

Equus-Soma Equine Osteology, Anatomy & Bodywork

Equus-Soma Equine Osteology, Anatomy & Bodywork

We are really enjoying the visitors coming to the Equine Osteology & Anatomy Learning Center and they all seem to like what they see (and learn)!
At the moment, the tables are set up with "themes" or "stories" such as... skulls with the hyoid apparatus, the Growth Plate Story, thoracic vertebra pathologies and C6-C7 congenital malformations.

PM or text to make an appointment to visit & learn!!


Aiken, SC


(603) 828-7079


Be the first to know and let us send you an email when For The Horse Integrated Equine Bodywork posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Business

Send a message to For The Horse Integrated Equine Bodywork:


Nearby pet stores & pet services

Other Pet Services in Aiken

Show All