Equine Structural Integration
My intent is to bring the structure and alignment of the horse’s body into greater harmony with gravity, to allow a buoyancy and extension in every movement.
Structural Integration focuses not on the muscles but the connective tissue called fascia. Fascia surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, organs, bones, and nerves; binding some structures together while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other. Fascia is designed to be elastic and move freely with muscles and bones. Tightened fascia pulls the muscles and skeleton out of proper alignment, which can cause: pain, imbalanced movement, unwillingness to perform as requested, fatigue, anxiety, etc.
Structural Integration is a system of manual therapy and sensorimotor education that aims to improve bio-mechanical functioning as a whole rather than to treat particular symptoms. Structural Integration lengthens, stretches, and softens fascia to restore postural balance, extension and spring to movement. When body support is lacking, tissues and their related muscles compensate by shoring up specific areas in an effort to deal with these vulnerabilities. The body then becomes a negotiation of compensations and conflicting tensional strains. This natural response to imbalance and instability is also the body’s attempt to support itself against the ever-present forces of gravity. Structural Integration is designed to create sustainable change, going beyond merely treating the symptoms.
Equine Structural Integration (ESI) is a full body therapy. Even if an injury or fascial restriction is in a specific location, the entire body is affected because of the interconnectedness of the fascia. By working the entire body you are going to relieve existing compensations and catch others before they have a chance to take hold. So the work is not only rehabilitative and progressive, it’s also preventative. In addition to the physical benefits of this work, there is a positive influence on the energy body as well. “Acupuncture meridians flow through the fascialplanes of the body. When compression settles into the tissue, this also restricts energy flow along the meridian pathways, which can interfere with normal organ function. By releasing the compression along the meridian pathways this work can also have a dramatic effect on organ function.” -Allan Mutschler (graduate of the Guild for Structural Integration and founder of Connective Dynamics).
The personality of the equine changes also, pain will be lessened or gone completely and a much happier, more willing animal emerges.
Movement is an event in which every segment of the body works in relationship to every other segment. If a body is overly stiff in certain places and flaccid in others, these relationships will be limited and the body will not be able to work as a balanced and flowing unit.
Equine Structural Integration works hand in hand with many healing modalities. For example, chiropractic is more easily achieved when the fascial holdings are softer, the bones move with greater ease, adjustments last longer, and ESI work can help stop the tissues from pulling the bones out of alignment in the first place.
Ray McCall, a Certified Advanced 'Rolfing' Structural Integrationist, and a former student of Dr. Ida Rolf (the creator of Structural Integration) has said that: "What Structural Integrationists do can be summed up in three words: "palpation, discrimination and integration". They 'palpate', or touch the tissue, feeling for imbalances in tissue texture, quality and temperature to determine where work is needed. They 'discriminate', or separate fascial layers that adhere and align bones and muscles that have been pulled out of position by strain or injury. Finally, they 'integrate' the body, relating its segments in an improved relationship, bringing greater physical balance within the gravitational field.”
Other soft-tissue manipulation methods, including massage, are quite good at the first two, but do not balance the body in gravity. The true beauty of Equine Structural Integration is the art and science of reshaping and reorganizing the horse's physical structure according to clearly defined principles in a systematic and consistent manner.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is the organ of form, the organ of stability.
Fascia has been given the general term of “connective tissue” but it is so much more than that. Fascia is the organ system of stability and mechanical regulation. Fascia is an interconnected net of fibers that may appear “fuzzy”, striated, and/or intricate connecting threads, like a spider web. Fascia allows change and movement beneath the skin, between the muscles, and anywhere anatomical structures have to slide on each other. There are ten times more sensory nerve endings in the fascia than in the muscles. Connective tissue includes blood, blood cells, & other elements that are not part of the structural net called fascia. The more definitive term for fascia may be extra-cellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is mostly comprised of fibers, glue, and water.
Most ESI treatments fit into the category of 'performance enhancement’ and the results are often stunning as you see what the horse truly is capable of. In ‘rehabilitation’ situations the goal is to bring the horse to a stable, balanced place and help the animal stay there; and in some cases, progress from there.
“A horse’s true personality can be dampened by pain. After a session the horse may become feisty, playful, and even powerful. Holdings take energy from the horse. Release of these holdings returns his precious stored energy and a new awareness of himself that the horse needs to thrive.” Joseph Freeman, (creator of the Equine Natural Movement School)
Equine Structural Integration can help your horse to recover from new and old tension-based habits that inhibit their natural elegance and performance.
I am so pleased with the work that Monica did on my horse, Jackson. He has had a long-term problem on his left side, probably due to two accidents, that I have never been able to figure out. Jackson was always “angry” on his left, very slight bobble at the trot that would come and go, left lead canter was stiff and his willingness to go forward began to diminish. Monica found the problem deep in his left shoulder where I never would have; his humerus bone was poking out his chest and making his shoulder blade tilt. It took six sessions and Jackson is now moving beautifully like he used to when he was young. He has a very free and open stride, no bobble or missteps at any gait, much calmer and more relaxed overall. I’m so grateful! What a difference it makes to have a horse that is no longer in pain!
A.B. of Whatcom Co, WA
Monica Uruchurtu has been working on my girl for the past three months and we have seen amazing results. Last summer, 2016, she cast herself against a fence and wrapped in her blanket. A Vet came out and put her on stall rest and pain meds. She was very swollen in her right hip and it took two months for the swelling to go down before Monica was able to start working on her. I was so worried that she was going to be lame the rest of her life and not able to hold the weight of anyone. Monica showed me that her right butt bone was up towards her tail dock and almost 2” towards her midline of her body. Six ESI sessions later, her body is pulling itself back into alignment and she is starting to move freely again. Three more ESI sessions and she was walking like a normal horse with a slight limp. At this point Monica suggested I have a different Vet out as she had been suspicious of a broken pelvis and my mare had slid on some ice and her limp became more pronounced but nothing like it was at the first ESI session. I had the Vet examine my mare and found out that she had indeed fractured her pelvis the previous summer. I am so thankful for all that Monica has done for my girl and I recommend her to anyone that has a horse that is hurt, not walking correctly or is super tight.
A.P. of Whatcom Co, WA
Hi fellow equestrians, my horses are the very satisfied recipients of Monica's high quality Equine Structural Integration. Her work has increased each horse’s range of motion. Their ability to perform has improved and has remained so over time. My 13 year old Appendix event horse was stiff behind and his hips were out of alignment. He would buck into the canter and his hind end would slip out from underneath him. After two sessions with Monica I felt a difference. After four sessions I had a forward, happy, structurally sound horse. No buck. No slip. Thank you so much Monica!
A very appreciative client, PYA of Whatcom Co, WA
Rather than immediately pursue conventional treatment such as hock injections for Kyote, our 15 yr old Canadian Warmblood hunter/jumper gelding, when he began to refuse his right lead canter, I decided to try fascial bodywork since it had worked so well on my own body. My trainer told me about Joseph Freeman, founder of the Equine Natural Movement School, who in turn recommended Monica, one of his recent protégés. Over the course of 6 sessions, Monica was able to relieve severe tension and imbalance that had built up in Kyote’s pelvis and back, while guiding us in a management protocol to help support his body. She also provided a wealth of information in many related areas including saddle fit, supplementation, hoof maintenance and even treatment of a hoof abscess that occurred over the course of her visits. She was always kind and caring with Kyote, who seemed to tolerate her sessions well. Monica was also patient with my many questions and premonitions. Lastly, I appreciate that she consistently communicated costs upfront and scheduled her visits to fit both our calendars. As of our most recent jumping lesson, no noticeable difference in Kyote’s leads! And he even now gives us a lovely right flying lead change when asked, which he would rarely do before. I’m glad to now have Monica as a trusted resource along this journey of horse ownership.
J.F. of Bainbridge Island, WA
Monica is a true horsewoman and that shows so unquestionably in the way my horses respond to her. She has wonderful timing and feel. She seems to have a sixth sense for what my horse needs, and the results I see in how much more comfortable they move is obvious a few hours after treatments. My QH gelding had received numerous massages but his movement issues still prevailed. Monica saw at the first session that his hips were out of alignment & within 5 sessions my trusty trail horse is sound & happy! My Fresian X mare would mis-step, in any gait, with her hind legs & after 3 sessions she moves normally in every gait. Thank you Monica for your services! I highly recommend you for your competent work and professional service!!
W.N.C. of Colorado
Every horse that has ever carried a rider, pack saddle with loads or pulled a cart would benefit from at least one session but Structural Integration works best when done in a series of sessions. Those can range from 1-5+ depending on the horse or mules’ needs. Each session works deeper into the entire body, unraveling fascial restrictions, until the “root” issue presents itself and if fascially related: is released. Sessions are done where your equine lives and all equines are happily worked on from mini’s to gentle giant drafts and beloved long ears, mules.
Sessions run approximately 1.5 -2 hours depending on the needs of the equine.
Rates for sessions are: $100/session (fuel/ferry surcharge may apply). There is a discount of $50 if a series of 5 sessions is paid for upon the first session. Assessments will be done for $25 (fuel/ferry surcharge may apply). No charge for phone consultations.
What you need to have ready:
Please provide a spacious manure-free place for your session where your equine will be most at ease. Please have your horse dry, groomed and ready for the appointment.
If you would like to have your horse evaluated to see what an ESI treatment reveals about his structure, please call and I will be happy to schedule an appointment for a treatment or assessment at your barn.
If you are a barn manager or owner and would like to organize a free 2.5 hour ESI mini clinic, I would be happy to use your horse for both the evaluation and ESI session without charge.