I have two horses both competing at Elementary / Medium dressage. I’ve used Elaine as a bodyworker for my horses since 2008, and she is a vital part of my horses’ support team.
Elaine has been a tower of strength helping me rehabilitate my older horse, Remi from significant, believed at the time to be career ending injuries. Elaine has been an important part of team that helped me realign him, and rebuild his body, from being strung out, desperately weak over his loins, travelling on three tracks, with an “S” shaped bend through his body to competing at the British Dressage Winter Regionals in 2015. As part of Remi’s rehabilitation program, we used to assess him on the lunge, Elaine would treat him, we would again assess him on the lunge, he always improved, sometimes transformationally after each treatment; as we undertook the slow process of rebuilding, realigning him to be straighter and stronger. Elaine is a talented bodyworker, who has the rare skill of being able to make a significant difference to the horses she treats, but also not stripping the horse of the necessary protective compensatory patterns. In the 17 years I have been keeping horses and living in various parts of England, I have only found a handful of equine bodyworkers who have the judgement to do both. In my view, the test of all good bodyworkers are: does the horse move better / feel better / visually look better after the treatment, and does this benefit last; and for my horses, Elaine passes this test with flying colours.
Elaine makes a big difference to my horses. An example is my younger horse injuring his leg, and he developed very tight shoulders even when sound, from compensating. His saddle also ceased to look right at the same time. After bodywork to release his neck and shoulders, the change was significant, and his saddle now looked normal on his back again.
Elaine is empathetic, with a good eye for movement and behaviour. Her genuine love of horses shines through everything she does. She spends a long time working with her hands on the horses, and then follows up with machines. My horses relish their treatments. My younger horse has gone from “what are you doing? It is my body, leave me alone!” to “more of that, there, just there,” and pulling the dreamiest of faces, with his bottom lip drooping. Elaine is also reliable, returns calls and messages promptly, runs to time, and communicates promptly if there are rare delays, and is often willing to come at shorter notice for emergencies, and is generally a pleasure to deal with. Philippa Ingleby - Surrey May '15
Elaine has been massaging two of our ponies now for about six months. The positive change we have seen in both ponies has been remarkable and I can't recommend Elaine highly enough.
One pony has had longstanding issues with intermittent off hind leg lameness and muscle atrophy on his right side. With progressive treatment from Elaine, his has improved tremendously and episodes of lameness are now thankfully an increasingly rare occurrence. The quality of his movement is much better and as he is able to move more freely, he has been able to develop his musculature to a greater extent.
Our other pony had extremely tight back muscles and tended to hollow her back rather than working through into the contact. Elaine has worked hard to release this area and this has resulted in a big change in the pony's way of going. The results that Elaine achieves with this pony are instant, her back looks less taught and relaxed immediately after treatment. For both ponies, the results have been so dramatic that Elaine's massages will remain an important part of their management strategy.
Elaine is professional, knowledgeable and above all, a lovely person. She is at all times gentle and sympathetic when working with the horses and open to different ideas and approaches. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Elaine to anyone considering equine massage therapy and indeed, would urge people to make this a part of the routine care of their horses!
Sarah G - West Sussex. June '12
I bought a very sweet 5yo lusitano mare called Xita nearly a year ago, with a view to all round riding and progressing with dressage. She was 5 stage vetted and I also had her thermographed and a chiropractic treatment before I bought her, to try and cover all bases.
She passed all of these things, but it quickly became clear once she was home that she had tension issues through muscle weakness and habitually braced her whole body. She was also quite crooked which caused blockages in different places including her neck and poll, where a kink in her neck was apparent and her mane lay on different sides. This continually caused soreness through her body and she was regularly unhappy to be deeply groomed and sometimes to have the girth done up or even to be tacked up at all. She also sometimes walked wide behind in an attempt to stabilise herself.
I was pretty sure that consistent strengthening work would improve all of these things, but I wanted to change the way she now habitually moved and didn't want to work her when she was sore. After a few chiropractic treatments it was clear that the problems were all now muscular and her underlying structure was sound. I was very lucky at this time that Elaine was training to be an equine sports massage therapist. Elaine agreed to treat Xita on a regular basis and subsequently wrote a study on how massage helped her and also on how her basic conformation would affect her movement and therefore muscle use.
Xita has improved enormously in this period and it is obvious even just seeing her standing in the field how much she has changed. She stands with her hind legs more underneath her now, the blockages in her muscles have gone and she is happy to be tacked up. She is also happier to be groomed and generally have people around her. Elaine has improved her trust in strangers which is lovely to see.
Now that the initial work is done, Elaine is an invaluable part of Xita's progress. Elaine is happy to work with my chiropractor's assessments and recommendations. Elaine will also speak to my trainer about her findings and recommend ridden as well as ground exercises that will help the weak or tight muscles. When Xita does something new, such as jump for the first time, a massage afterwards is very helpful both for relieving sore muscles and for diagnosis so that I know if there was uneven muscle usage or she sustained any muscle damage.
Although I was only introduced to equine sports massage through Elaine, I would now say that it is an integral part of helping my horses to firstly be happy through not living with pain or discomfort and secondly to enable them to work and perform to the best of their abilities. I feel that my relationship with my horses has improved from being able to meet their needs in this way.
Helen H - Kent. June '09 Group 4 dressage rider.
Elaine Mariani Equine Sports Massage Therapist Applied Zoopharmacognosy Practitioner - Equine Covering East and West Sussex, parts of Surrey and Kent Tel: 07815 310568