It all started…
With a horse, of course.
I’ve probably told a version of this story so many times when people ask me how I got into massage and yoga- it wasn’t exactly something people thought I would end up doing. You could say my path here has been…unusual.
Growing up on a working ranch, I don’t remember a time when horses weren’t in my life. Starting with ponies and eventually graduating to hand me down ranch horses, the day I got my own horse is forever etched into my memory.
And probably my Mom’s as well.
I’d just gotten a 3-year-old barrel racing horse (read…hot as summer in the South). Of course, my 11-year-old self decided it was a great idea to rider her, immediately. In the rain. Bareback. With a halter. Oh, and my delight when I discovered she would rather jump water over walking through it? Immense. My mom had another opinion of the matter though.
But we can say that day cemented I would forever want to chase cans (barrel racing) and jump things (eventing).
At 17, I wanted to be a horse massage therapist. However, it wasn’t a viable option. So, instead… I joined the Marines. Five years later, two deployments, and a whole lotta good times; I was 8 hours away from a horse massage school and about to exit the service.
Of course, I went.
I started massaging immediately and noticed there were chronic patterns the horses had every session- sure they would be slightly better. But the issues never fully went away.
While training horses in New Mexico, I watched a horse I’d been the only one ride walk ahead of me on the trail. Her left hip was high. My left hip is tight and high due to a moment I tried to be a saddle bronc rider and jumped for the fence (I missed).
It clicked…I had done that to this mare.
So, off I went to human massage school to learn how to fix the human half of the equation. Which led to health coaching school, biomechanics and sports specialties, and yoga teacher training. I’ve worked for Chinese Acupuncturists, chain massage places, chiropractors, and myself (my favorite). My clients have ranged from women about to give birth to professional athletes (NFL, UFC, Olympic) and everything in between. My horse clients have been of all breeds, disciplines, and attitudes (those chestnut mares!)- from rescues (including one of my own who I rehabbed strictly through massage at first) to pro level horse athletes.
Beyond the work I did with clients of both the horse and human variety; the most noticeable improvements were in my personal riding. I ended up on the east coast (guy misadventure!) and there wasn’t much western riding for me to do, so I turned to English lessons to get my horse fix. In all honesty, I’ve always been a good yet nervous rider with a tendency to pitch forward (great for speed, bad for spooks). And an English saddle takes away some of the comforts of a western, so perching is not conducive to remaining seated. Yet there I was, keeping my seat on an OTTB mare while happily jumping around trying to figure out this new style. This is about the time I got serious about my personal yoga practice.
As I got stronger, my riding got easier. As I got more confident, my riding got easier (and less stressful). As I became more mobile, my riding got easier since I wasn’t so damn tense all the time. You see the theme here? The more I worked on myself off the horse, the better I was on the horse- no matter what horse I was riding.
I even went home to visit and ran a calm barrel pattern on a friend of a friends green barrel horse…without having ran a pattern in about five years. I would’ve been a ball of nerves a few years prior- the people watching me, the new horse, it’s a green horse, I haven’t done this in forever, and any other thought about how I was going to mess it up would have been dancing front and center. Effectively making me ride the way I was worried I would.
Instead, I went out and had a nice little run that everyone was happy with.
And that’s only one of the stories I have from my personal experience and also from the results of clients for why and how yoga can help riding so much. I walk my talk and am most definitely the guinea pig things get tried on first. I love it because it works.
While I love massage- on both horses and humans- I love teaching people how to create change in themselves, without relying on me being there.
Enter yoga + self-myofascial release = functional yoga for equestrians. In all honesty, I’ve taught this to a variety of people from all walks of life with great results.
But my passion is helping horse riders, so that is what I focus on.
In addition to the functional yoga work I do, I also teach horse owners/riders how to massage their own horses, teach mindset work for better riding/competing, and some basic nutrition coaching.
I’m always happy to chat horses + yoga, share a cup of coffee (virtual or in real life), grab a drink, or head out on a trail ride with fellow horse people. Drop me a line and see where in the country I’m at- we just might be able to set it up.
If you’re interested in working together- email or schedule a call and we will get started on your yoga program!