The Horse and Rider Connection

Restoration & Maintenance through Equine Massage Therapy

The Equine Trader Monthly - May 2000

You arrive at the show at your wost, expecting to perform your best

It's been a long week: The office, family obligations, and the last push to ready yourself and your horse for the weekend horse show. Thursday night you clean, polish, pack, exercise and wash until the wee hours trying to assure that everything is covered at home while you're gone. Last minute trips to the store. Praying that package arrives tomorrow before you leave. Hoping the kids, the horse and yourself don't get sick at the last minute.

Friday, you get out of work late and land right in the middle of the Friday-evening-droops... And you've barely begun! You pack the truck, load the trailer, convince the horse to go along, and start driving to the show, right into the weekend rush hour traffic.

You arrive at the show grounds tired, thirsty, and hungry and have yet to check-in, unload, setup, say "hi" to everyone, work the horse, feed the horse and think about feeding yourself. It's after midnight, and you've drawn a 7 am class.

Your horse was tired before he loaded onto the trailer. All that extra make-sure-he's-perfect push in the ring, the grooming fuss throughout the week. Trailering. Being separated from his herd and arriving to a new, strange herd that constantly cries out for a familiar voice. They keep him up all night with their neighing, threatening kicks and teeth scrapes to his stall wall. He's ridden and fed at non-habitual times, in unfamiliar territory, with lots of suspected and reported "tigers" in the vicinity.

Ahhh... The show circuit... You and your horse are both stressed and exhausted...the events haven't even started yet. And now you expect to trot into the ring at your peak and win?

The odds are against it. Many horse show competitors underestimate the effect of pre-show exhaustion on performance. A tired, stressed and tense horse is an accident and an injury waiting to happen. He will be unsettled and ready for flight. Tense, tight, tired muscles are easily pulled and soared.

His performance will also reflect your own presence of mind and the pain you carry in your own body. It is felt by the horse, convincing him that there's trouble around and it's time to run to safety.

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves and our animals? Isn't there a better, kinder, gentler and infinitely more successful way to enter the competition?

Yes there is! More and more horse trainers and veterinarians around the country have discovered in the last ten years the remarkable effects of equine massage. In show events particularly, massaging both the horse and rider makes for a much better ride, for both!

In as little as 30 minutes, both the horse and rider are soothed and the cares of getting to the show and setting-up melt away. You both become supple and flexible, instead of full of knots, stiffness, tension, and stress brought on by the pre-show push. The team emerges recovered and ready for peak performance in the show ring. You arrive at the gate calm and focused. And, you have an important edge on your exhausted competitors. Isn't this better than dragging around stoically thinking, "I'll make it, somehow"...and hoping your horse pulls through?

You've spent so much time, effort, resources and money to enter the ring and win. Why would you go through the gate with the disadvantage of exhaustion and pain shaving points off of your performance?

When you arrive at your next show, look for a certified equine & human massage therapist... There are more and more of them out there. These days, you can even make an appointment for both human and equine massage therapists to meet you there. Give yourself and your horse a chance to do what you know you can do in the ring!

Bobbi Whittemore has over 30 years experience with horses as a trainer, caretaker, and, since 1997, a fully certified equine massage therapist with The Horse & Rider Connection. Bobbi is a published author on the subject of equine massage and is happy to provide more information on the subject to horse lovers everywhere. She is also available for speaking engagements in equine massage. Bobbi can be reached by telephone 919-932-1313 - or through her web site: