August 2015 - Rider’s Edge
Written by Gwen Bernardo, E.S.M.T.
Tuesday, 04 August 2015 21:33
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Integrated Equine Bodywork helps maintain peak performance and comfort.

by Gwen Bernardo, E.S.M.T.

Imagine your horse moving effortlessly and gracefully. See him as nature intended: a strikingly beautiful animal whose movement exemplifies both elegance and strength. Rider’s Edge Equine Bodywork and Massage can help restore your horse to his natural state of being which is full of power, grace and flexibility.

According to a Tufts University of Veterinary Medicine report, “Musculoskeletal problems are the most common cause of poor performance.” Horses are not anatomically designed to carry the weight of a rider. His structure naturally puts 60 percent of his body weight on the forelimbs, with the remaining 40 percent on the hindquarters. Thus, a riding horse must learn to lift up off the shoulder and withers area and engage the hindquarters to propel his body forward. He

does this in order to avoid damage to his back and the joints in his lower legs.

Bodywork optimizes the horse’s economy of movement and enables the strength and flexibility necessary for him to comfortably support a rider.

In today’s intensely competitive equestrian community you need an edge. Bodywork and massage can be that winning edge. If your horse is not in the best possible condition for an event, that can be the difference between standing at the top of the podium and not finishing in the ribbons.

Muscle problems are cumulative in nature and the resulting pain and stiffness can rob your horse of his athletic potential. A traumatized muscle (from over use or injury) will tighten, then spasm, then become a knot, leading to a shortening and tearing of the muscle. No amount of rest or anti-inflammatory medication will resolve the knot.

Reversing The Toll

Heavy training and competition schedules take their toll on the muscle system of the horse. Because muscles (damaged or not) do not appear on radiographs, observation of how the horse is behaving will be the main indicator of pain and muscle damage. Signs of possible muscle damage include head tossing, stumbling, difficulty accepting the bit, decreased stride length and performance, difficulty with leads, refusing jumps, bucking, balking, grumpiness and the list goes on.

This is where Rider’s Edge comes in. Our sessions will undo incorrect structural and neuromuscular holding patterns in the muscles and connective tissues. The results are dramatic. You will have a healthy and more balanced horse. Furthermore, your horse’s chiropractic treatments will be more effective because the muscles are no longer tight and pulling the bones back out of alignment.

Rider’s Edge Integrated Equine Bodywork offers one of the most comprehensive arrays of soft tissue modalities available for horses today. I blend the different therapies I am trained in to achieve the best results for your horse’s health by keeping his body balanced and in optimum working condition.

Each session is tailored to meet your horse’s individual needs. I begin every visit with an observation of your horse in hand at the walk and trot. After the bodywork is complete, the horse is re-evaluated for any remanding issues. You will receive a written report of the session. Follow-up appointments are made based on the findings. You may also request a copy of my notes be sent to your veterinarian.

I am happy to work with everyone on the horse’s wellness team including your trainer, veterinarian, farrier, saddle fitter, equine dentist, nutritionist, chiropractor, acupuncturist and any other caregiver whose input is necessary. This will ensure that your horse is receiving the best care possible.


Author Gwen Bernardo is owner of Rider’s Edge Integrated Equine Bodywork. She is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist through Equissage®. She is a member of the International Equine Body Worker Association and is the Official Equine Bodyworker for the Cal Poly Pomona Equestrian Team. Rider’s Edge is located in Los Angeles County and Gwen travels throughout the area to work on horses. For more information, call 415-505-7337 or visit www.gwenbernardo.com.