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Physical Therapy and Massage for the Horse, 2nd Edition - Biomechanics, Exercise, Treatment
By Jean-Marie Denoix and Jean-Pierre Pailloux
© Manson Publishing Ltd 1996, 2001
ISBN: 1-57076-203-1
224 pages, hard cover, approx $35
Trafalgar Square Publishing

Reviewed by Karen Anderson

Physical Therapy and Massage for the Horse has been prepared to update and revise the first edition that appeared in France in 1989, and the English version in 1996. Since the first edition appeared in North America and Scandinavia, the practice of equine physiotherapy has "taken off". The book was thoroughly enjoyed in France and elsewhere and much interest was generated, hence the two new sections that have been prepared - stretching and mobilizing treatments, and the treatment of lesions of the tendons and ligaments.

The collaboration of Professor Jean-Marie Denoix and Physiotherapist Jean-Pierre Pailloux has resulted in a very informative book that will take you beyond the places where science and therapy exist in separate worlds. Physiotherapy has already proven its effectiveness in its application to sport, and should therefore be used to help develop new approaches to the treatment of the horse. This book is intended to help horse caretakers not only treat injuries but more importantly to prevent them, and to support the health of the horse with a more complete approach to management.

Physical Therapy and Massage for the Horse is packed with 171 illustrations, diagrams and black and white photographs, all captioned - nearly one for every page. What is presented in words is supported by Jean-Marie Denoix's beautifully detailed drawings, and/or by pictures including equine injuries and conditions, massage and treatment techniques, x-rays, ultrasounds and sonograms. The authors present the information in an easy to read format that easily holds the reader's interest.

Part One - Basic anatomy and physiology
This section deals with the interrelationship between the brain and the physical responses of the horse. The emotional side of the horse is recognized and presented as well as the intellectual and physical side. The importance of the horse/rider relationship is made clear, including the importance of sensitivity and communication between horse and rider - without sensitivity and finesse, there can be no horsemanship. Anatomy and basic biomechanical concepts are presented in depth but clearly, with helpful visuals. The entire body and how it moves is presented, including how it applies to carrying a rider.

Part Two - The equine athlete
Chapter 3 gives some well-intentioned advice concerning the young horse, starting from how to pay attention to the condition of the ground to minimize shock and stress to joints, to schooling the horse. Hoof mechanism is not covered, but mention is made of the iron shoe's contribution to impact on the leg and up to the spine. Chapter 4 is very eye opening in regards to the horse's back and the role it plays as an emotional filter, as well as being the true source of the horse's motion, equilibrium, and coordination.

Part Three - Physiotherapeutic methods and techniques
This section, one of my favorites, is very informative. The skin, whose roles are respiratory, secretory, sensory, and emotional, has a connection to the internal organs as well. Massage is described as not simply an action, but a means of therapeutic communication. Sufficient explanation, pictorials, and guidance are provided for even amateurs to be able to administer basic therapeutic massage to their animal friends. Mobilization and stretching techniques are also explained and pictured, but some of these I would only encourage you to do if you truly feel confident. And a chapter is included which explains electrotherapy and ultrasound and the benefits that are produced by their administration.

Part Four - Treatment of commonly encountered lesions
An overall view of the treatments that can be used to treat lesions of the joints, tendons and muscles is presented in this section. There is a small segment that gives a sample treatment plan suggesting what can be done on each day of the week to treat your horse for his specific problem.

Part Five - Treatment specific to the various anatomical areas of the body
Explanations of specific therapeutic approaches one may choose for the horse are provided in this section, which is divided into anatomical areas. The last chapter discusses preparing muscles for specific competitions - racing, jumping, and massage.

Many useful references are provided in this book, and there is a large, handy index.

All in all, any horse owner or therapist would find Physical Therapy and Massage for the Horse to be a very informative and user-friendly book about the horse, inside and out, with useful techniques that will enable horse and rider to reap the benefits derived from hands-on bodywork. Respect and understanding for the horse go hand in hand with massage and physical therapy, and are at the heart of this well-written and very helpful text.

Video 'Views

T'AI CHI - An Ancient Art for Horsemen
Presented by Sara and Michael Stenson
© 1998, Prairie Winds
305 W. Magnolia, #137
Fort Collins, CO 80521

Reviewed by Karen Anderson

Quality horsemanship and T'ai Chi work on many of the same principles and abilities. Those who practice T'ai Chi develop a keen sense of timing, balance, suppleness, strength and sensitivity as they go through the slow, gentle, flowing movements. The series of simple yet powerful movements in T'AI CHI - An Ancient Art for Horsemen were designed to specifically enhance the skills of the rider - you could say 'groundwork' for the rider.

Balance and timing are essential for great horsemanship. The qualities of the ultimate ride include precision in movement, which is largely dependent upon the rider's communication, awareness and balance. The main obstacle to achieving this is the inability of the rider to manifest such in their own bodies. The series of exercises demonstrated in this video are designed to give the rider that edge in order to experience the ultimate ride. Coordination, balance and timing are addressed and isolated in order to refine awareness.

T'ai Chi balances the body's muscle pairs and tones the smaller balancing muscles closest to the joints, so small delicate movements will do much more than hundreds of zealous repetitions. T'AI CHI - An Ancient Art for Horsemen demonstrates and explains the T'ai Chi principles of movement as they apply to your riding skills. Sara and Michael Stenson demonstrate step-by-step instructions on how to perform the simple T'ai Chi exercises. Since the movements are slow and graceful, it allows enough time for you to follow along and do the exercises with them. The movements calm the emotions, clear the mind, and at the same time develop balance within the body. Chi, or energy life force, is present within every living thing. We can have a crimped energy flow, or we can have a free flow of this energy. These basic movements can give us the ability to open up this channel of energy to flow freely.

One example of a simple movement is called "Treading on Thin Ice". It is designed to cultivate a sense of rhythm and movement to transition with continuity and fluidity, and focuses the mind and intentions. Basically, the exercise looks exactly like one is gingerly, carefully testing a thin sheet of ice one foot at a time and shifting the weight to see if it holds. Forward and backward movements, lightly stepping so as not to break the ice beneath promotes balance and coordination and an awareness of the body as a whole. The movement is repeated and use of all the senses is encouraged.

After all the exercises are demonstrated, the viewer can follow along with all of the movements that are consolidated into one 10-minute-long, graceful exercise - not a lot of time to take out of a busy day to ensure the optimum ride!

About the author:
Karen Anderson is a Certified Massage Therapist specializing in aromatherapy, neurokinesiology, One Brain®, and other holistic bodywork. Her 9 years of experience include working with animals as well, and she is currently studying The Gentle Touch® through the Academy of Somatic Harmonization. She can be reached at essennces@aol.com .