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EXERCISE #4


Place your fi ngertips in the center of her belly and apply as much pres- sure as required for her to liſt her belly and back. Hold a few seconds and release SLOWLY. T is engages the stomach muscles and re-introduces her to correct body carriage. T is is the fi nal step in releasing the topline and teaching proper body carriage. It is imperative you do the preced- ing exercises fi rst so the horse is loose and can liſt her back without pain.


“A healthy, happy,


comfortable horse will be able to


provide better therapy to the participants.”


clinic on many of the basic Connected Groundwork exercises. Perfect! I made the long drive to Pennsylvania. Over the weekend she coached me and helped select the exercises that were most benefi cial to therapy horses and easy to learn for volunteers. Most could be worked into the regular routine, adding very lit le time to already overloaded schedules. T is was great, because no exercise is worth anything if it’s not practiced. Armed with Diane’s suggestions and advice, I put together what I call my “T erapy For


T erapy Horses” clinics, a series of easy to do and easy to learn exercises for the horses, and began to off er them free of charge (I do ask for travel expenses) to Equine-Assisted T erapy centers. T ese exercises help the horses release and relax, carry themselves off their forehand, liſt their back, soſt en their inversion muscles, and engage the hind end into a soſt er, longer stride. T ey also help to relieve the tension built up in their mind and body, and help them to focus. Another benefi t of these simple exercises is the release the horse enjoys mentally as well as physically. A “bonus” benefi t of these exercises is the communication skills they build within the per-


son. T ese exercises are so soſt and gentle that the handler must pay close at ention to what the horse is saying. Did the horse release, did he ignore, did he show gratitude, did he protest, does he want you to do something else, is his back sore? T ese are subtle signs the person do- ing the exercises will soon master and be able to transfer to other interactions with the horses. A healthy, happy, comfortable horse will be able to provide bet er therapy to the participants.


I’ve traveled as far as New Hampshire providing T erapy For T erapy Horses clinics, and I’ve seen wonderful places full of joy and smiles. I have received emails and phone calls about how the horses have changed since beginning the exercises. I’ve been to many diff erent equine-assisted therapy centers now, both to do clinics and to


write stories. I had the honor of meeting wonderful people who give all they have to help oth- ers. I’ve also had the honor of meeting and working with some outstanding horses who also give all they have to help heal man. I think most folks believe, as I did, therapy horses have it made—what a great way to retire and hang out. It is a great and honorable life for them, but it is hard work, too, that takes a toll. T ink about off ering a lit le care to the caregivers. T ey never hesitate to do their part.


Dutch Henry is a writer and novelist who writes about “People & Horses Helping Horses & People.” He resides in Virginia with his wife of 36 years, Robin, and a horse, dogs, cats and chickens. Dutch also does T erapy For T erapy Horse Clinics at therapeutic riding centers across the coun- try to help horses maintain proper posture, movement and body car- riage—because therapy horses can use a lit le therapy, too. You can reach


Dutch at dutchhenry@hughes.net—he would love to hear from you. His novel, “We’ll Have the Summer,” is available on Amazon and at www.dutchhenryauthor.com


78 | November 2012 • WWW.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US


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