ELAINE MARIANI ESMT
When I was training to be a human massage therapist, I remember a few of us students talking about 'fixing people' and I also recall how annoyed our teacher would be if she overheard us.
'We are not fixing anything' she would point out, explaining that at best we were enabling the body to heal but that it is a joint effort between the therapist and the client and that it was up to the client how he or she took it forward.
Health is a combination of mental and physical balance and no third party can fix things for the client, only make it a possibility if everything else aligns.
The same applies to horses. It is true that occasionally, if a horse has had a recent injury and all was good prior to that, that one or two visits will restore equilibrium, relieve discomfort, release any tightness and the horse will be 'good to go', though it is equally likely that there may be some residual weakness resulting from that injury that may need some extra care for a while after healing appears to be complete.
More often though there are a series of subtle problems, they may have accumulated over a long period of time and may not require fixing as much as discovering, unraveling, working through one by one or simultaneously while the owner attends to other issues which have a bearing. It is important to recognise it as a joint responsibility.
These may include veterinary issues, foot balance, dentistry, saddle fitting, diet, lifestyle etc.. but equally importantly the schooling and management of the body-building elements of the horse's day to day life.
I am always a bit taken aback when talk turns to 'fixing' something in a horse now, though I so wanted to be The Fixer when I was training.
Body-work feels more like restoring a work of art to me. The horse is already a work of art (mostly!) and the owner/rider helps maintain and enhance it, the therapist does the restoration work when things have gone awry, in an effort to restore them to the point where the owner can build them back up to a thing of beauty, ensuring smooth form and function. It is gentle and intricate work and it is a life time's work requiring horse and rider to find harmony together, with occasional or regular input from the team mentioned above and the body worker/s of choice.
Living creatures are constantly remodelling, being recreated from within, ageing, changing with respect to needs and ability to fully function so there is no one fix that will hold forever without needing support and care and work and an adaptability as things change.
Body-workers are at best enablers, facilitators, support workers but not fixers.