One of the things I find so good about Horses Inside Out is how Gillian Higgins (The Founder) has been able to create a concept and content that is both accessible and applicable to everyday horse owners and equine professionals alike.
As a professional equine therapist myself I know I can reach for any of the Horses Inside Out books or videos and learn something new or more in depth from the products that are accessible to anyone.
So you can imagine how excited I was to be attending a live course with Gillian aimed purely at professional therapists, as I just knew I was going to be in for 2 days of super in depth learning and ready to fully immerse myself!
The course I was going to be attending was the CPD course for Equine Therapists – Myofascial Chains and Myofascial Release Techniques.
Following on from the online lecture Horses Inside Out hosted with Dr Vibeke Elbrond earlier in the year focusing on Dr Elbrond’s research in the Myofascial Lines in horses (see previous blog) I was excited to learn more about these connections in the horse’s body and how as a therapist I would be able to apply techniques to facilitate change in the horse’s body with these lines/chains in mind.
This course was held at Horses Inside Out HQ, which is Gillian’s own home in Leicestershire.
Gillian has her own purpose built classroom here where she leads the courses from, full of her collection of bones and models which she uses to assist with demonstration and learning throughout the course.
The classroom also allows for horses to be brought into the learning environment for demonstrations. It’s a pretty cool place to be.
There were around 12 professional therapists on this 2 day course. Other Equine Massage Therapists like myself but also Veterinary Physiotherapists and Chiropractors, so a real mix.
Gillian had a mixture of horses available to us for the course, including her own horses Toby, her 17hh ISH and Pumpernickel her 12.2hh Blue Cross rescue cob (my secret favourite!)
We also had the chance to work on 3 event horses during the course. Two 4* advanced eventers Smokey and Pete and a 5 year old ISH mare called Eden. All belonging to International Event Rider Fiona Davidson.
You can see Pete in action in Gillian’s up coming webinar ‘Jumping from and Anatomical Approach’ – find out more HERE.
Gillian began by welcoming us all and asking us all to introduce ourselves to the group to break the ice, before explaining what we would be up to for the next 2 days.
There was quite an itinerary and I wondered how we were going to fit it all in – so much to learn!
The group was a very interactive one with people asking lots of questions which I found absolutely fantastic as for me this really adds to the learning experience. Everyone was really friendly and supportive of one another too so it felt comfortable asking questions in front of others and having discussions.
One of the things I love about CPD is you get to sit in a room full of like minded people all wanting to learn. It’s not often you truly get to share experiences and discuss things with other professionals in your field when out and about with clients.
Gillian really encourages participants to make the most of their opportunity to ask her questions – I have been extremely fortunate to be able to spend quite a bit of time with Gillian over the last 18 months and I never run out of questions to ask as there is so much to learn!
So, in short, the plan for day one was to learn some Myofascial Techniques and the plan for day 2 was to learn the anatomy of the Myofascial Chains and how applying the techniques we learnt on day one can affect and influence the body with the chains in mind.
We started with a presentation from Gillian which included lots of dissection images and video, these are absolutely fascinating to see!
I have seen dissection photos before and seen the shiny sheets of fascia covering the muscles, but I never seen a video of live fascia before. It was amazing! All I can explain it as, in my wow words, is like a gel that is constantly moving in all different directions.
This video in itself completely changed my perception of the live fascia and answered a lot of questions I had about Myofascial techniques and how and why they work.
In this presentation we learnt about:
· The different types of fascia
· The components of fascia
· The Functions of fascia
· Keeping fascia healthy
Some of my key take home points from the day:
· Fascia responds to force and builds due to demands
· Irregularity of the fascia gives it adaptability and ability to move
· A lameness or asymmetry could cause changes in the fascia
· Pressure will locally dehydrate the fascia beneath that pressure e.g the saddle
· Hydration of the fascia is important to allow gliding
· Deep fascia is similar to ligaments in it’s make up
· Healthy loading induces building of the fascia in healthy formation
Following this we were ready to get hands on and learn some techniques.
Gillian would demonstrate a technique on a horse and then we would work in teams of 2 on a horse to have a play with the techniques ourselves.
Working with a partner is a great way to get feedback from them on how the horse is reacting to the technique while you are trying it.
It is very hard to attempt a new technique, get it right and look at the horse for their response at the same time.
It’s also really cool to be able to discuss things with your partner as you try out techniques.
Gillian was also on hand to help each team as we practiced giving tips and advice
As the day went on we were able to swap partners and also try techniques on different horses. This is so useful as all of the horses react differently to techniques and feel different to work on.
Some of my take home notes from the techniques part of the day included:
· The need to try each technique on 100 horses before you know how it works for different horses
· How sometimes just one myofacial release "stroke" along a muscle chain can be enough
· The importance of going against gravity – decompression
· Combining technique with movement
· The importance of rhythm in therapy
By the end of day one I was left brain fried and wanting more all in one!
The day ended around 5pm after another chance to ask questions and then it was time for a restful evening before the excitement of day 2.
I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the first day of this course, I can’t wait to put out my next blog where I will tell you all about the Myofascial Chains and what we learnt on day 2!