More Bodywork Sorcery

Ready for a Moonlight Massage
Thank you all for your love and support in the comments of my last post! Being able to come back to report to y'all in triumph was absolutely amazing. I'll be wrapping up our 2016 competitive season in another post, but in the meantime, let's talk about Dino's latest bodywork session.

Every time Dino has a bodywork appointment, he absolutely astounds me.

He'd been feeling quite stuck and tight in the left side of the base of his neck under saddle for a couple weeks, so I was pretty sure that Tara - Bodywork Wizard Extraordinaire - would find some muscle knots and tension there when she worked on him.


She found some big ol' tight muscles on that left side, as well as some on the right side that were too contracted, making it hard for Dino to bend all the way through the entire length of his neck. She talked again about really working and loosening his pectoral muscles as well when I groom him each day, as well as being sure to incorporate daily carrot (well, peanut) stretches to get him to stretch all the way back towards his hip and keep his neck flexible and loose. There was also some tightness inside his butt cheeks that we can do a little extra currying on to help his hindquarters stay feeling relaxed as well.

She said his back felt great (yay!) and as always it was fascinating to watch Dino's expression change throughout the session from one of pain and discomfort when Tara really got after some tough spots, to one of relaxation and relief when his muscles finally released. By the end of the appointment, he was literally soft and squishy and jiggly all over - there was not an ounce of tightness anywhere in his body! His posture has improved a ton since we first started this therapy over the summer, so there wasn't too much of a dramatic on-the-spot change there, but we did have to pop his one elbow into a better place once his muscles were adjusted, which was pretty cool to see!  He also got his first cold laser treatment, which was crazy sci-fi weird.

As far as his topline development and saddle fit go, Dino is totally blowing away any expectations you thought you had about how much muscle an 18 year old Cushingoid horse can possibly put on.

Holy. Cannoli.

The left side of his back, which if you remember in June was significantly under-developed compared to the right, has completely filled in and evened out thanks to some shims in his saddle pad and upping the protein in his diet. We removed ALL of the shims on the left side, and put one thin layer of padding in the front right side of the saddle pad, since THAT was now the area that was a little less developed. Our bodyworker also commented that she saw a big gain in muscle in the base of his neck in front of the withers, which is VERY exciting since that is telling of the much more correct and consistent dressage work we have been doing lately!

Tara thinks that by spring he may have completely outgrown the shape of my saddle. Thankfully, she's also hopeful that a different pad and shim setup can help us avoid having to go shopping, and make my curvy-treed Prestige fit a bit more like a flatter-shaped saddle, allowing Dino's topline to continue developing to its greatest potential instead of being limited by the shape of the saddle.

Uh. Wow.

I never, ever thought that I could see this kind of improvement and muscular development in my pony at this point in his life. When I rode him after the session, the left bend and shoulder-in left were MUCH easier to achieve, and the connection and power Dino gave me in the walk was just fantastic. In trot and canter he was a bit too distracted by Sully tromping around in the woods to give me the same level of work, but just feeling how awesome he was in the walk really encouraged me.

Then we rode around the property with Sully & Chance and galloped up the last hill home, leaving the big boys in the dust with a spring in his step and a twinkle in his eye.

Don't give up just because statistically your horse 'can't'. Try new things. Think outside the box. They just might surprise you!


  1. This is so awesome to read!! Yay for Dino (and you for providing what he needs to thrive)! He looks absolutely fantastic -- #toplinegoals

  2. I find it so interesting how much horses (and people too!) can change. Diet, proper work, and saddle fit are such huge pieces of the puzzle. May I ask what you added to increase his protein? I'm currently bringing my boys extra hay from home but it's a pain (I don't have a good storage space) and I'd love to find something easier.

    1. My bodyworker actually recommended Buckeye Grow 'N Win as an excellent protein supplement, but I opted to start with the (cheaper, tried and true, also helpful for ulcers) addition of a heaping scoop of soaked alfalfa cubes once a day, plus increasing his current grain ration (KER RE-Leve) by 1 lb. It's obviously done the trick!!

    2. I will keep the Gro N' Win in mind, might be easier and cheaper for me than the compressed alfalfa bales I'm buying and then schlepping to the barn a flake at a time. P has a history of choke with grain/pellets but doesn't like hay cubes/pellets soaked so I'm not brave enough to go that route.

    3. That sounds like a HUGE pain in the butt, and no one wants to mess around with choke! Good luck finding something that works for P!

  3. This is amazing! Way to go Dino! And way to go YOU!!

  4. He looks awesome! Bodywork is such an amazing thing for horses :)

  5. Interesting to think about. My guy has had a sore back and we're waiting on the vet's diagnosis on what it is...

  6. I didn't even realize Dino was 18!

  7. He's keeping in such excellent shape!!

  8. I absolutely love this post!!! Bodywork is so so great

  9. You have successfully motivated me all over again to find someone similar in our area. We have a chiro who is great, and definitely helps, but I really want someone who dives more into the muscles and building a proper shape all around.


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