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My Learning Journey with Gillian Higgins, Horses Inside Out

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

This is a blog I have been wanting to write for a while, and yet for some reason, every time I sit in front of my laptop with the intention of doing it, I seem to get a mental block. Not because I don’t have anything to say on the subject, but quite the contrary, I don’t even know where to start. But I know that this is a story I want to tell, as I am hoping it might inspire others….

When I first qualified as an Equine Massage Practitioner I had completed my studies over the course of a year, completed case studies, written and practical exams and finally I was qualified and able to go out and start building my client base. And although the course I had completed had given me a good foundation in Equine Anatomy, Biomechanics and Massage Therapy Techniques I still felt there was so much more I needed to learn and I spent time searching for more information and ways I could continue to develop my knowledge and skills.

Some of the recommended reading during my course has been Horses Inside Out books. I had already purchased some of these books and I loved the book topics, the visuals including Gillian’s painted horses and the way they were written, appealing to me both as a therapist and a horse owner. I was also a follower of the Horses Inside Out Facebook Page, and loved reading the informative posts.

In the winter of 2019 Gillian launched a competition to win tickets to the Horses Inside Out Annual Conference 2020. I had been eyeing up the conference on the Horses Inside Out Website for months, I was desperate to go, but I was nervous about attending on my own and committing financially to 2 days away as I wasn’t sure if I would be out of my depth among other more experienced professionals?

I decided to enter the Facebook Competition, what had I got to loose? I never win anything anyway…..

And then to my absolute shock, I won! I could not actually believe it.

So off I went to Leicestershire to attend the Horses Inside Out Annual Conference. And wow, it was an absolutely incredible 2 days. And I had needn’t have any fears as everyone at the conference was so welcoming.

Just a couple of weeks after the conference had taken place, the world went into COVID lockdown.

During the conference I had taken lots of photographs and in depth notes on each of the speakers, and so the enforced time at home was actually a good opportunity to write a 15 part series of blogs for Gillian on the conference. You can read these HERE.

I was so happy to have has this opportunity from Gillian, to be able to attend the conference and learn so much, I couldn’t wait to get back home and book onto some of the Horses Inside Out CPD courses to continue learning, I was so inspired!

During the lockdown period, Gillian started to launch her first series of webinars. The first one being in October 2020. I was really excited about this as it was another great way to learn from Gillian and also be able to interact with her and ask questions. By this point having read all of Gillian’s books, attending the conference and also becoming a member of the Horses Inside Out Academy and watching all of the video content on there, I just knew that Gillian was someone I wanted to continue learning with.

For those of you that have not had the opportunity to learn from Gillian either online or in person, when you do you will soon see that her enthusiasm for her subject is infectious, her knowledge and experience so vast, and her generosity in sharing this is incredible.

The webinars were giving me yet more anatomy knowledge and understanding as well as practical applications of techniques and exercises to help client’s horses.

I also began to write blogs on each webinar with the points I had learnt from each one. You can find those HERE if you would like to have a read.

Ever since the conference I had been waiting for the launch of Gillian’s next project, Anatomy In Action, this was released in December 2020. WOW, this was on another level, a stunning book and online video course combo.

A chance to really study the biomechanics of each movement a horse makes, and see it in slow motion using horses painted by Gillian with their skeletons on the outside. I don’t think there is any better way to be able to visualize and truly understand the movements.

I also wrote a blog about Anatomy in Action, which you can read HERE. I enjoy writing blogs about things I have learnt as I feel it helps me to consolidate what I have learnt and absorb it better.

And then, in April 2021 I was invited by Gillian to Horses Inside Out HQ to assist with actually painting horses for an up coming video lecture series Gillian was creating.

Anyone can get selected to do this, all you have to do is REGISTER on the Horses Inside Out website to be a volunteer and you may get selected to help paint for one of Gillian’s demos.

You can read more about this day HERE. But what I would say is what an amazing experience it was to finally get to spend some real time with Gillian. I learnt so much that day. Firstly actually painting the bones and muscles onto the horse yourself really gives you a more in depth feel of where these parts are under the skin of the horse. But also this is a great opportunity to ask Gillian questions, about horses in general, or specific cases you may have and really make the most of the chance to learn from an expert in their field.

In May 2021, as the world began to return to a little more normality, Gillian was able to hold the first live Horses Inside Out course and I was able to attend. In fact I was lucky enough to be able to attend a number of live courses at Horses Inside Out in 2021. And it was from attending these that I feel my knowledge, skill level and approach really began to develop and change.

Gillian really is a fantastic therapist. This is not a side of her that may people get to see, as unless you attend a live course or have her assess and treat your own horse, most of the time Gillian is presenting information or painting!

Even though I have learnt and continue to learn more and more from Gillian and Horses Inside Out all the time about Anatomy & Biomechanics from her prints, videos & webinars, what you can learn from her about energy and feel during the CPD courses is invaluable. Especially as you learn these skills with a strong link to what structures you are having an effect on and how this translates through the body.

I have attended a number of CPD courses now with various training providers, but I really believe Gillian has a unique recipe as she has the ability to help you visualize what is right under your hands using her painted horses and incredible collection of bone & models of horse anatomy.

If you are unsure about something, she will have that structure to show you, even if it is not there in her collection she will have a dissection video or photo that will demonstrate it.

Thanks to Gillian and the courses I have attended I have been able to adapt my own assessments and treatments of horses to include in depth postural and locomotion assessments, with a much deeper knowledge of what I am looking at, what structures are affected and what I may be able to do to help the horse and advise the owner to do to help their horse.

I have learnt how to palpate all of the superficial structures and bony landmarks of the horse, how to mobilise each accessible joint in the body and test for range of movement, consider what might be restricting movement and how to help improve or restore range of movement.

How to feel for myofascial restrictions and how to work with the horse’s body to help release them, whilst understanding myofascial connections and how other parts of the body may be affected by the area I am working on.

I have learnt the importance of encouraging our horses to take their joints through a full range of movement on a regular basis, how to create a strong riding horse, improve posture, stimulate the various systems of the horse’s body, assist in preventing injury and help horses establish healthy movement patterns.

And I have also learnt exercises I can prescribe to my clients and how to pass some of this knowledge onto them in an easy to understand way.

Gillian has also taught and inspired me to keep on learning & keep asking questions!

I am so grateful for the journey I have been on so far with Horses Inside Out. There is still so much more to learn, and I am looking forward to new book and video releases from Gillian as well as attending some more courses with her and of course the 2023 Conference!

I hope this inspires you to take a look at Horses Inside Out and also try and spend some time with Gillian yourself. If you have an interest in anatomy, biomechanics and equine therapy, I can promise you won’t be disappointed.



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