Cavallo visits Ireland
By Carole Herder
I’ve recently returned from Ireland – yes, that super little green country full rolling hills, miles of rider friendly trails, magical leprechauns and that black velvety liquid they call Guinness.
Among the many friendly Irish, Niamh Fitzpatrick (what a great Irish name!) was in attendance at one of my clinics. Sometimes you can just tell when a person really gets what you’re saying. She was nodding ‘yes’, attentive and open with great interest in the many benefits of Cavallo hoof boots and saddle pads. Of course, she hung around after the demo, and as it turns out she’s a equine therapist with an extensive range of therapies. We decided to have some fun and do an informal interview regarding her work. This is how it went, word for word:
Me: Thank you for coming to my clinic. Did you enjoy yourself?
Niamh: Yes I really benefited from your clinic so thank you for hosting. My own horse was diagnosed with “navicular syndrome” a few years ago. Therefore I’ve already had issues with the shod hoof. Following numerous corrective attempts and ultimately due to necessity – the shoes were removed, by an ex-farrier none the less. I have just recently been contemplating bringing my horse back into work so I was reviewing hoof boot options to facilitate this.
Me: Great idea. Now tell me a little about your work and what you do?
Niamh: I qualified as a Masterson Method practitioner, a level one thermographer and an equine thermographer in 2014. Additionally I trained in Myofascial Release therapy with Ruth Mitchell-Golladay in the summer of 2014. Following this I trained and qualified as a Quantum Coherence Therapy practitioner in 2015. I started working in the equine industry in 2014 under my business, Equine Therapies Ireland; I utilize my combined skills to bring relief to horses and owners throughout the country.
Me: Quantum Coherence Therapy! Sounds like something from NASA! Do you think energy work has a greater effect on animals over humans?
Niamh: Quantum Coherence Therapy is amazing! Unlike other energetic therapies there is no channeling or purging of energies. Its underlying focus is on therapist self-care and by focusing on this, not only is the therapist’s energies protected but so is the client’s! It employs the concept of coherence to offer the client’s organs, chakras and other areas to increase their vibration. I’ve had some amazing results with both human and animal clients so I believe it works the same on both, probably just that people are less aware of the immediate internal physiological response. Horses live in the now so are fully aware of everything going on in the present moment.
Me: What is and how does myofascial release work?
Niamh: MFR therapy was another must have for me to combine my integrated approach. The body is completely cocooned in fascia. To attempt therapy work without knowledge of fascia, its vulnerabilities and limitations I believe would be difficult. MFR therapy develops a slow and intuitive rapport with the fascial matrix. For example, it helps me to help the horse free up the soft tissue structures in the hind-end; this is necessary to allow pelvic asymmetries to realign. It’s a powerful tool.
Me: How can the infrared therapy help with hoof issues?
Niamh: Infrared (IR) is really great. It quite literally gives us eyes on the inside. Where there is inflammation there is healing and sometimes that healing process gets interrupted. IR helps to identify asymmetries in the body, on a thermal level, it also helps us to capture and monitor improvements. Horses, being prey animals, are slow to demonstrate pain. This makes the owner’s life difficult to even spot issues in the first place. IR can easily be used to check for hoof pain, and by scanning the whole horse, can correlate the hoof pain to issues elsewhere in the body or directly in the hoof.
Me: How is what you do different to physiotherapy or chiropractic work?
Niamh: On the most fundamental level I have been trained to follow the horse’s neurological responses. Each horse has a different sensitivity therefore to each horse you must bring a different level of pressure during treatment techniques. Horses are prey animals so will instinctively block out or brace against any pain they feel. All healing is most beneficial when applied to a relaxed body. So how do you convince a 1000lb horse to stay relaxed if they are expecting pain? In short, although I use a variety of different techniques from a variety of modalities, the real beauty is that I develop a rapport with the horse which increases their participation and subsequently the results. I think that’s what makes me different to other available therapists.
Me: Why is it necessary to treat the whole horse?
Niamh: It’s necessary Carole to treat the whole horse because any element of pain or restriction will move throughout the rest of the body and create secondary, compensatory pain and restrictions which can then have a long term impact. Through the soft issue everything in the horse’s body is connected. For example, most horses with low level front hoof / heel pain will brace up into the lower limb, in order to alleviate some of the pain in that area. This then affects the pectorals, the neck and eventually the poll which usually results in a head sensitive/shy horse. So not only do you have to resolve the hoof issue, you also have to free up all the subsequent tension patterns and restrictions.
Me: What is the number one issue you find with horses and ponies?
Niamh: There are actually three consistent themes I see when working with horses in a therapeutic sense. Bad saddle fit, rider imbalance stress and caudal heel pain in the front hooves.
Me: Why do you think caudal heel pain is an issue?
Niamh: After listening to you talk at your workshop it makes sense that the hoof experiences constriction, considering a static material is nailed onto it. Because of this constriction there is a limited pumping action of the frog to send nutrients to the hoof and the distal limb. It makes sense that without these vital nutrients getting to where they are supposed to, there will of course be a restriction and subsequent negative impact on our horse’s hooves.
Me: Would you consider trying Cavallo hoof boots or any other Cavallo products?
Niamh: Considering the ongoing issues with my own horse’s hooves and dependent on his next infrared scan results, I expect to be investing in some Cavallo hoof boots in a few weeks. I plan to rehab Dan’s hooves in his Cavallo’s and scan again in a few weeks to see how we are progressing. I did like the look of the saddle pad also and could see myself investing in one of those too, to help us get back into the saddle.
Carole: Thanks Niamh, our Cavallo Community will love your informative insights. Best luck in your practice.