Equine Sports Massage Therapy
Certification Program


Lancelot -

Lancelot is a 20 something year old Cob Cross Pony that we were called to see at a farm in Eastern, CT.

His current owner had ridden him in lessons as a child of 7. She is now in her early twenties. While having lunch one day with a friend of hers, who was still affiliated with the barn where (Gwen ) took her lessons, the friend mentioned that Lance had  suffered a serious leg injury and that he essentially had been abandoned as a lesson pony, and that the then owner was contemplating euthanasia for him.  

Due to his injury and inability to move properly, he became the low man in the pecking order and subsequently wasn't getting enough food and possibly water, his coat was matted and bald in spots, and worse of all, he was unable to properly walk and navigate the pasture he was in.

The conversation with her friend prompted Gwen to go visit Lancelot. When she saw the deplorable physical condition he was in and his environment, she negotiated to purchase him and move him to a more suitable location.

That's where we came on the scene.

The first picture I have of this guy was his walk from the field to the barn. He walked as if he was Long John Silver, with a peg leg gait. His left hip was dropped six plus inches below the right, and his spine had a curvature to the left. His pelvis was frozen without the usual drop with each stride. His Muscle development was next to nothing in the left hind region of his body while the right was noticeable overdeveloped. This also led to an overdevelopment in his left shoulder / scapula area and an underdevelopment on the opposite side.

When he came to a stop, he parked himself out just as you can see in the picture on the left. Toe and stifle out, the hock in and his left leg positioned just as you see it, about 12 inches forward of the right hind and off laterally about six to seven inches.

During the initial evaluation, and assessment of Lancelot's  condition, we were certain that a multitude of issues stood in his pathway back to any level of health. Fortunately for him, with the dedication of his new owner, and the connection we were able to make with him, he allowed us the opportunity to begin turning his life around. At every new treatment we utilized, he stood like a trooper for the work. Each session uncovered a new issue.

Lance had atrophied muscles, overdeveloped muscles, fascial restrictions, muscle spasms beneath the restrictions, and muscles so tight the joints were restricted in their movement. He was malnourished, and his coat was bald in many places. He could only walk with a choppy uncoordinated gait. His Cerebral pulse was at best weak, while undetectable in his left rear quadrant. He was a mess.

Gwen, his new owner, was determined to do everything she could to repay him for his service to her as a young child while riding him in her lessons. And so it began.

We opened with a Cranio Sacral treatment, followed by a deeper evaluation of his muscle conditioning with a focus on his back end, shoulders and mid back. Using both Muscle Manipulation, Myo-Fascial release techniques and Reiki, we began the attack on his traumatized body.

We scheduled visits at the week and a half interval, the next at a three week interval, the fourth and the latest at four week intervals. Between each session we had with him we outlined a plan of attack for Gwen, so she could keep the therapy ongoing between our visits.

As we worked with Lancelot, we continued to peel away a new layer of issues with each visit. Between body work sessions, Lance's owner diligently worked with us to address those areas that were identified, and  in need of ongoing attention.

You can see from the accompanying photos, the before and after result. While Lancelot is not totally back up to optimum conditioning, he is in a far better place than he was back in May.

We continue to work on him, and look forward to when he will be as near back to his former self as he can be given the trauma he's been through.

Mid August--- Another visit to see Lancelot. He's walking slightly better, but found restrictions farther up into his groin area that may have been overlooked. We showed the owner how to address that and gave him a good working over ourselves. Every visit gets us closer and closer to better movement. Stay tuned.

Case Study--- Jackson

This case is about a seven year old Appendix gelding, Jackson. He was purchased by his owner in June of 2012 on the recommendation of a trainer that she knew. The idea was to take this relatively green horse and mold him to the particular needs and goals of his owner, which was to be able to show him in open shows and the local AQHA circuit.  The owner stated she purchased him because she “fell in love with his kind eye right away”. His manners on the ground were impeccable. He was easy to handle, groom, pick feet, and curious but not spooky. He was a very sensible kind of horse, and, he passed his vet check with flying colors.

His first ride however was not the same story. When being mounting, he danced around and jigged a lot. At the walk and trot, he was noticeably tense, but manageable. At the canter, he became very agitated, sometimes going straight up into the air, and doing more than the average “crow” hopping.

The trainer who recommended the purchase said it would not be a problem to fix the behavior. After two weeks with the trainer, Jackson was brought home. On the first attempted ride at home, the owner was bucked off while trying to mount. This happened three more times over the next few weeks. A saddle fitter was called in to make sure the saddle was a good fit. A veterinarian was called in to examine Jackson and yet he still checked out fine. Jackson still crow hopped and bucked at the canter and tried to dislodge the owner when she attempted to mount him.

His demeanor on the ground was so different than in the saddle that the owner had to assume there was more going on than met the eye.

Next, the veterinarian recommended a joint supplement, which only partially worked. Jackson still acted out in the same manner, and looked very “hitchey” behind.

The owner then enlisted the services of trainer number 2 who thought there was something causing discomfort, which the owner was also beginning to think. A lameness specialist was called in on the recommendation of several people. The specialist watched Jackson under saddle and determined that the problem was in the SI joint, causing Jackson discomfort in his stifles and hocks. The stifles and hocks were injected along with the SI joint.

The injections went perfectly and after two days Jackson was under saddle again. During the next few weeks, Jackson showed only slight improvement from the injections, still crow hopping and dancing around when being mounted. While being ridden, he would still round his back in preparation to buck, but he could be “talked out of it”.

At this point, the owner had been bucked off on seven occasions, resulting in injuries. The most severe being 4 fractured vertebrae. It was time to make a choice. Either try to help him through what the owner felt was a pain issue, or sell him.

When it was determined that the injections had not worked, the owner was referred to a well known Equine Hospital in a final attempt to determine the scope of Jackson’s problems. He under went a complete body scan and ultrasound in an attempt to locate an issue.

While at the Hospital, Jackson was ridden for a team of vets and nearly bucked that rider off also. He was showing signs of being extremely uncomfortable. All the while, his demeanor on the ground and in his stall was still impeccable, a complete “love bug”. The vets recommended Previcox and to have bodywork performed. (We normally do not like working on horses while they are on this med. However, Jackson really needed the help, so we worked on him anyway).

Frustrated and defeated the owner brought Jackson home and called in an Equine Chiropractor. After the chiropractic adjustment, there was still no change.

The next recommendation was to call Equissage, and that’s where we come into the picture in May, 2013. During the gait and stride assessment, we noticed that the right hind was striding slightly shorter than the left hind and crossing slightly over toward the center. At the beginning of a left lead canter, there was a major amount of tail swishing, not present at the right lead canter. These identifiers can point to several different issues, but our suspicion was that something toward the hind end on the left side of the horse was the culprit. The best course for us was to perform a complete bodywork session, head to tail.

From the very beginning of the bodywork, he showed us where to treat and began giving off huge releases as we progressed along his body.

Upon reaching the lumbar region on Jackson’s left side, we encountered four spasms perfectly paralleling the lumbar spine between the L 2 thru 5 processes, evenly spaced about three quarters of an inch apart from one another. Our strongest suspicion so far was that these were the culprits. The spasms were treated with direct pressure until they began to melt. At this point Jackson truly began to release the tension and discomfort from this area. One yawn followed another until we left the barn. (His owner later stated that he was still giving off release yawns well into the evening).

Before we left, we asked that Jackson be walked so we could observe his gait /stride length again. This time both hinds were striding the same length and tracking true.

In a subsequent visit, the area of the spasms was treated with Infrared Light Therapy.

Jackson was taken off the Previcox around November 1st and, to date, shows no signs of his previous behavior recurring.

The following statement is from Jackson’s owner: 
“Jackson has now had regular treatments from Doris and Ron including infrared light therapy and has undergone dramatic changes. He is relaxed, has free movement, and no longer jigs or dances around when being mounted. His gaits are beautiful and you can just feel that he feels better. I can see in his eyes that he is happy and comfortable and in the end, that’s all I wanted for him”.

“I successfully showed Jackson for our first year on the open circuit and he was amazing. Today he is virtually pain free and living a spoiled and comfortable life. Doris and Ron are amazing and have given Jackson his freedom of movement back. 

Thank you”. 

Submitted by:
Doris & Ron Bouchard
Equissage NE / NY
November 20 2013