"Working with the horse, not on the horse" - Jim Masterson
"Less is more" - Jim Masterson
About The Masterson Method...
What do we work on?
Imagine someone is pulling on one side of your top. All that tightness on one side of your body, pulls you off centre. Now other muscles have to work harder to help you stand properly. This would be magnified if you tried to walk like this, and would eventually cause pain in the other muscles that are trying to compensate.
Eventually these other muscles also fill with tension and become rigid. This tension and tightness is what we work on alleviating, not just at the source of the problem (where your t-shirt is being pulled) but also across the whole body on all of the other muscles that are now tight from having to compensate and causing further restriction.
What does it do?
The Masterson Method® is an integrated performance bodywork for all equines, formed by Jim Masterson.
This type of bodywork focuses on listening to the horses natural responses and reading their body language to target their problem areas. This enables us to release tension in essential muscles and key junctions, whilst staying under the brace to keep the horse in a relaxed state (which is perfect for the more nervous types).
After sessions, horses have better natural alignment and in turn improved range of movement. This of course enhances their level of comfort and maximises their performance by enabling them to use their bodies correctly and with increased mobility. For these reasons, all horses from the retired, to the happy hacker to the high level competition horse benefit largely from The Masterson Method®.
When the horse is feeling better through its body, this will often show in a change of attitude. Nervous or aggressive behaviour can be reduced dramatically if discomfort is relieved.
How does it work?
To be able to understand how the Masterson Method works, we need to look at how horses in the wild behave.
In order to survive being prey, horses are very good at masking discomfort/weakness. This can sometimes lead the rider to accidentally interpret the horses discomfort as a behavioural/training issues. Horses then continue doing whatever we ask of them but unfortunately this accumulation of tension transfers into deeper core and postural muscles. These then tighten to compensate for pain, or to take over for the muscles that are unable to do their job, leaving the horse unable to work correctly through their body.
All Masterson Method practitioners have been taught to be very in tune with the horses extremely subtle body language, this allows the horse to ‘communicate’ to us where exactly they are holding the most tension.
By using levels of pressure and movement that the horse cannot guard against, we stay above the horses natural brace (their way of hiding pain and discomfort from predators). This enables the part of the horses nervous system that blocks out pain etc - the sympathetic (flight, fight, freeze - to let go and the healing part of the nervous system - the parasympathetic- starts to work.
By watching the horses responses, we can decide where to work and how much pressure or movement to use on each specific horse. When we focus the horses attention on their tension without sending them into brace, we allow them to release it. This is something they cannot do on their own and why many horses can end up hiding discomfort and carrying around tightness deep in their bodies for years.
What do I need to do during a session?
All I need during a session with your horse is a head collar and a lead rope. I prefer to work with just me in the stable to minimise distractions so I can read your horse correctly and allow him to move freely if he needs to release (although I am more than happy for you to watch and ask questions if you would like or if you have other things to do I can work alone- completely down to your preferences). It is best to work in the stable on a quiet yard however if this is not possible it is not a fixed requirement. It is best to remove hay/feed from the stable to minimise distractions so I can watch you horse easily.
What happens after your visit?
It usually depends on the horse but I’m most cases I will advise two days off and two days light work, turn out is better if possible.
Most horses have two or three sessions at small intervals to begin with and then we can arrange regular sessions at intervals that work best for both your horse and you.
Is it different from Physiotherapy/oesteotherapy?
Yes this technique is different but when used in conjunction with physiotherapy/oesteopathy the benefits of both can be magnified.
How did you train?
I completed extensive studies over two years and finally qualified in 2019.
These intense studies comprised of many hours of hands on experience being supervised by a mentor followed by a series of case studies. There was also the anatomy element to learn and at the end of training there was a final exam.