Staying true to the horse

My business is growing by the day. The more horses that I work on, the more feeling and intuitive and capable I become. It is an incredible method, and while I am so happy that I have pursued the dissection courses as well as the biomechanics courses, I realize that Jim Masterson was right all along, “You don’t have to worry about being perfectly on a certain acupressure point for example, just watch the horse as the horse will tell you.” Staying inside the brace response and going lighter when you feel or see a reaction is key and it is what makes this technique so incredible.

Now not only am I a Mentor and a Coach , Jim recently made me an Instructor. And not only will I teach the 2-Day clinics that I host locally, I will teach all around California!

Timing is everything as I feel calm and confident and yet excited about it. I workedSandy Vreeburg Masterson CA at the Western States Horse Expo with Jim in early June. I did two demos with him in front of the crowd as he did his clinics. A year ago my guts would have been in a knot about that. I worked with a rescued Mustang and a high-strung OTB. I just told myself to not think about the people and “stay true to the horse”. Well, they both figured out pretty quickly that they liked the work and calmed right down—heaven on earth.

I am very happy that I have not pursued another technique to add to my toolbox as that would have kept me in my “head” and in the “trying to remember what I am supposed to do”. By staying so deep in the Masterson Method—and having now worked on several hundred horses—my fingertips, my eye, my experience along with my education, just keep becoming more fine tuned. I am all things Masterson, added to my lifetime of riding and loving and appreciating horses.

Masterson Method Hands-on Seminar at Moon Valley Ranch Watsonville CA

I am very excited to be assisting in this Masterson Method Hands-on Seminar! Check out the details below. Hope to see you there.

Masterson Method® Beyond Horse Massage

Hands-on Seminar-Workshop

Equisance, Inc. at Moon Valley Ranch, Watsonville, CA

Weekend: July 9—10, 2016

The Masterson Method® Weekend Seminar-Workshop is the next practical step to take after reading/viewing the Beyond Horse Massage Book and DVD. In this “Hands-on” Weekend Seminar-Workshop, you will learn how to recognize what the horse is telling you through visual and palpable responses that enable you to get deeper releases of tension than the horse would otherwise be unable to release on its own. This is a truly interactive process that results in a change in relationship, and an improvement in movement and performance.

• Improved relationship and communication with your horse.
• Make your horse more relaxed and comfortable.
• Enable your horse to overcome limitations and restrictions that stand in the way of reaching his full potential.
Discover how much the Masterson Method® has to offer you and your horse by experiencing one of our hands-on weekend seminarworkshops for yourself!

Equisance, Inc. at Moon Valley Ranch
345 Race Horse Lane
Watsonville, CA 95076

To Register:

Complete Information

Are Horses Really Made for Riding?

Each time I have taken the Whole Horse Dissection course taught by Ivana Ruddock there is an in depth and very emotional discussion about why horses were not made for riding. But rather than coming away distraught by the concept of curtailing this lifelong passion of mine, I instead vow to be the most educated and lightest rider that I can be and to be a steward to the horse by sharing what I have learned with every horse owner and rider that I know. While it is clear to me that they were not placed on this earth for our benefit, I do believe that we can provide great lives for our horses by riding with awareness and intelligence and by truly riding for the horse’s health and longevity. A trainer that I worked with years ago told me “to put brains in my fingertips”. I have never forgotten that statement and now through the education that I am pursuing as it relates to my efficacy as an Equine Bodyworker and a rider I have added to it to put brains in every part of my body as I ride my wonderful horse. Good riding as we know is an art, it is a lifelong journey to be the best that WE can be for our equine partners. I am honored and very thankful to have even taken a few steps on this path.

I came across a fascinating article on Horse Collaborative by Katja Bredlau-Morich

“The longtime rider in me says yes. After all, horses look like they are absolutely made for it; not too big and not too small; strong, agile with enough space on their back to carry a human, as they have done for centuries.

horses made for riding“However, in addition to being a rider I am also an equine physical therapist, and in learning all about equine anatomy—bones, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments—I have come to the conclusion that I do not believe horses are meant to be ridden.”

She goes on with numerous examples and diagrams that support her ideas. She ends with:

“And still, I ride. I’m not ignoring all these anatomical facts I mentioned above. Not at all. I am very aware of it every time I get on my horse. I try to take these facts into consideration during and after riding to minimize any potential damage.

“The fact is, however, each time we ride, no matter how good of a rider we are, we will cause some micro-trauma to our horse. To keep this to a minimum, it is crucial to take good care of them. In my opinion, every horse that is ridden will benefit from bodywork, massage and physical therapy because being ridden is not their benefit.”

Read the entire article



Want to become a better leader….learn from a horse

I thought you would enjoy this thought provoking article by Philippe Collard, President of Le Link, that I came across on Linkedin.

Certain things can be taught. Other things can only be learned. Such is “leadership” or the behavioral skills that we associate with leadership. As much as some “gurus” would have you believe, they are simply incapable to “teach” you leadership because it is something that can only be integrated in our own self through personal experiences, both positive and negative.

Thus you will read a lot of articles discussing what leaders are, what they are not, what they do and what they do not do. All these “gurus” can offer is something like “do this, be that way, do not do this and do not be that way”. It is an utterly pointless and usually very expensive curriculum.

horse bodyworkI once took the executive team of one of the companies I was turning around to a “leadership seminar” (I did not know better then). A very charismatic speaker discussed with great oratory skills about the “new leaders”. It lasted a couple of hours. We left with a huge binder full of “wisdom”, binders that collected dust in the office of those who had gotten them. A couple of weeks later, I went back to my team and asked: “What do you remember from that day and what have you applied in your daily life?” It was not a trick question because I had asked myself the question first and had found little for an answer. I wanted to find out if I was the “idiot” in the room. Nope. Nobody in the executive team was able to pinpoint some nugget of wisdom that they had not only taken away, but remembered and applied. I had just wasted a great deal of money.

Later on, I discovered horses, riding and the tremendous amount of introspection that is required to be on a horse’s back asking that animal to do as you please, most often things that are completely unnatural to the horse. I slowly realize that the equestrian sport was teaching me a great deal more than just riding. I was learning about myself, my own tendencies, those that were conducive to harmonious riding and those that were absolutely destructive.

One day it dawned on me. Riding was changing me. And I was carrying those changes with me wherever I went. At home. At work. I was able to recognize my faulty behaviors much quicker and was “trained”, so to speak, to correct them because of my riding. I thus came up with the idea of building a “program” (if you want to call it that) to allow people like me at the time (high-strung executives) to find their own self and learn a thing or two through interaction with horses. I called this program: EquiLead (

It took me many years to articulate and structure the program. This is not an easy thing to do and I am not a teacher, though this is not about teaching, as I will emphasize later on. But eventually I did build the program and got people to go through it….entire article

Beyond Horse Massage Weekend Workshop July 11-12 Palo Alto

I am excited to be assisting in the Masterson Method Beyond Horse Massage Weekend Seminar-Workshop, July 11 through July 12 at the beautiful Stanford Stables in Palo Alto CA. It will be taught by Vanessa Helvy. I truly hope to see you there.

This great hands-on workshop is the place to learn how to recognize and use the visual responses of the horse to your touch to find and release accumulated stress in key junctions of the body that most affect performance. These techniques have been successfully taught to hundreds of owners, therapists and trainers worldwide, enabling them to open new levels of communication and relationship with their horses.

This short video is of Jim Masterson working on Hind End Release points. I selected it as an example because how often do we encounter our horse being a bit short-strided or just “not quite right” behind with no apparent problem in the feet or lower legs. The Master Method acknowledges that it could be the result of tension, strain or spasm in the deeper muscles of the hind end or the lower back. The video does start out with an ad, but it is worth waiting through for this great example.

In addition, as a life long learner I am continuing my education into all aspects of horses. I just finished the Whole Horse Dissection Clinic in Pennsylvania taught by Ivana Ruddock of Equine Touch.

Ivana is a veterinarian, pathologist, anatomist and equine body worker. Her class focuses on the fact that all muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments are connected to each other through the phenomenal living and thinking organism of fascia. In other words…our horses feel and are affected by “every little move we make”. For example a tight girth could actually pull on the stifle and affect the forward motion and sought-after length of that hind stride. Gets you thinking doesn’t it?!?!

I look forward to sharing some of the valuable and eye opening information that I learned from the course the next time we meet.

Horses Regularly Trained with Groundwork Are More Relaxed

Don’t we all want our horses relaxed when we ride them? I came across this very interesting blog post from Spellbound about a study that was done—there are studies on everything it seems—of Dressage horses in Germany:

A recent study of dressage horses in Germany that looked at rein length and tension revealed a surprising finding: horses who were regularly trained in ground work/in-hand  work had lower heart rates during ridden work than all of the other participating horses. This wasn’t what the researchers were investigating, but it was clear in the results. From this, the researchers concluded working horse from goundthat, “Perhaps horses trained in ground work had more trust in their rider.”

So why would it be true that horses who regularly learn via ground work/in-hand work are more relaxed? There are a few possibilities.

1) Horses trained regularly with ground work are more relaxed because their trainers are more relaxed. It’s possible that humans who take the time to teach their horses from the ground are less goal oriented and more concerned with the process. They may be more relaxed in general and foster this same relaxation in their horses. As you are, so is your horse.

2) Horses trained regularly with ground work have trainers who are more educated about a horse’s balance.Dragon in-hand Their horses learn to move in correct balance which allows them to be healthy and sound in their bodies and, therefore, more relaxed. Physical balance is emotional balance.

3) Horses trained regularly with ground work understand the trainer’s criteria better. They have mastered the response to an aid before the rider mounts and know the “right answer” already once under saddle. They don’t experience any conflict when the rider asks for a behavior  because the neural pathway has already been installed. They are more relaxed about being ridden because it rarely has caused confusion for them.

Read the entire post from Spellbound

Look what the Masterson Method can do!

I was sent this video clip of Dakota after a recent session I had with him. He is 20.., had been stiff and short striding on hind left. After I worked on him he walked around the arena like a very loosely jointed 12 year old and the left hind stride was only slightly shorter than the right. Hats off to the leaser and to the owner as he has been well cared for and they believe in the Masterson Method!