A few weeks ago, animal manual therapist Louise Mauferon Vernet came to treat H specifically to work with her new FascialEdge tool to assist her with her traditional osteopathic treatments.
I've known Louise for a year so now. We met originally while she was treating two lovely geldings just before Christmas last year and I went along to photograph her at work.
What I learnt then, and is still so evident is that there's never a one size fits all with Louise's treatments, She's treated H twice this year, but neither session was the same; in part because he was a little different in the way he presented on both occasions. When she treated him in the summer, he felt fine and on the surface he was. I knew though, that because I ride lopsidedly, he would inevitably be compromised as a result and true enough, he was just a little 'off' on his left side. He thoroughly enjoyed his treatment, free standing while, once again, I took photographs of Louise at work.
This treatment was very different. H and I had hit the deck, apparently quite spectacularly, at the end of August. At the time, my family made sure I was checked out, so a trip to A&E and CT scans etc later sure enough revealed a broken rib and as it soon became apparent concussion too. So a period of recovery was ordered. Retrospectively, I feel very guilty about poor H as I have no idea how he landed or how heavy a fall he had, but fall he did. True to form, he carried on in his own little world, not putting a foot wrong and being ridden three to four days a week. However, when next shod, my blacksmith noted that he was brushing behind more than he ever has so queried if I'd had him checked out? Guilty as charged. Looking back, he had been almost too well behaved, but no sign of lameness or restricted movement, so we ticked along.
Louise's timing to come and treat him was perfect. It was a very different session that the previous one, with a focus on his left side as this is often the side that he is generically stiff on and it's also the side on which he fell. He was a good boy, interested in Louise's new tool (he had to check whether it might have been edible) and by and large stood pretty well to be treated and photographed. There were definitely some areas where he 'reacted' and others where he just enjoyed Louise's gentle manipulation. Her holistic approach to treatment is lovely to watch as the whole body is assessed rather than one part, just because that part may appear to be the cause of the issue. It rarely is as simple as that. At the time I asked Louise how she felt H's treatment had gone, and why she wanted to add the FascialEdge to her treatment options. These are her answers:
"I think for me, what was really interesting was to see the difference in his behaviour between the first time I saw him, when I was using my usual techniques, and the second time with the tool. Obviously taking in consideration both the change in the weather and the fact that he had had a fall this time, it was still interesting to see that he was a lot more curious and reactive with the tool than he had been with my usual method of work. It was a very useful session for me as a practitioner because it really made me think about how to use the tool, how much pressure to apply, when to move on and so on. And for someone that’s used to using only my hands, it was a good way to remind myself of another type of feedback from a 'patient'!
"About why I chose to learn the FascialEdge tool: the idea came from a tutor that I have a lot respect for. Initially, I’ve always been taught not to use anything else but my hands. My university and teachers there were clear about that, and so I grew as a practitioner with this idea planted in my head. And then I met another tutor, whose work I really respect, both for her attitude with the horses and the evident positive reactions she gets, but also for being an open minded and humble person. She uses the tool in her everyday practice, and after seeing her talk about it regularly, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give a go! And I’m very happy I did. The feedback from clients has been very positive, it’s helped me to be a lot more efficient, and with the help of my case studies I am now confident as to when the horse will benefit from me using it."
Post treatment, H had a weekend off, mooching about in his field very relaxed. He was slow pick up afterwards, still a bit 'not quite there', so I gradually reintroduced his trot and canter work over a couple of weeks as even though fit, there was nothing he had to be prepared for in a hurry. It has paid dividend as three weeks on, he's much livelier and full of beans. We even popped a few cross country jumps out on exercise to see how he felt about jumping and what shape he made. There was no doubted he wanted to jump and by jump eight and nine he was really thinking about his own preparation as much as I was thinking about mine, so a win win for us both - given it was the first time I'd jumped him since August.
Louise is scheduled to treat him again in the new year and as ever, it will be interesting to see how he reacts to her and the FascialEdge and how he feels after a second treatment. In the meantime, we'll have a little fun over Christmas and I'll let you know how he is in the New Year.