Episode 49 // Listening to Your Horse With Jim Masterson
In our 49th episode on the podcast, Jim Masterson joins me to discuss his experiences working on horses using his own method of bodywork, the Masterson Method. We discuss:
🔸︎ Bodywork with horses at liberty vs. restrained
🔸︎ Recommendations for nervous horses, and horses who don’t like being touched 🔸︎Calming signals/stress signals in relation to bodywork
🔸︎Allowing horses to eat during sessions, especially if they are stressed or nervous 🔸︎Examining the root cause of pain and tension And so much more!
Jim Masterson was the equine bodywork therapist for the 2006 through 2014 US Endurance Teams, and for show jumping and eventing equine athletes competing in World Cup, Pan American and World Equestrian Games competitions. The method of bodywork he uses follows responses of the horse to touch, that enable it to release tension in the body that affects performance and behavior. It is a method that anyone can use to improve performance and behavior, and to open new levels of communication and trust with the horse. To learn more about Jim Masterson and the Masterson Method, head over to his website, https://mastersonmethod.com/, as well as check out his YouTube channel.
[00:00:00] Adele: Hey there. Welcome to the TWE Podcast. The podcast where we talk about all things related to horse training. Horse keeping and being better horse people for our horses. I hope you enjoy this episode today, and if you'd like to share your thoughts with me or have suggestions for future podcast episodes, please feel free to reach out to me through social media or the t w website, the willing equine.com.
[00:00:37] On my website, you can also find a ton of great information about horse training and keeping in general, as well as check out the t w services and just learn more about us. Also, we have courses and memberships that you could sign up for. Before you do that though, I would love for you to listen to this episode and I hope it inspires you in a positive way today.
[00:01:03] Hey guys. Welcome back to another episode of The Willing Equine Podcast. Today I have Jim Masterson with us. Jim Masterson was the Equine Body work Therapist for the 2006 through 2014, US Endurance Teams and for show jumping and eventing equine athletes competing in World Cup, pan-American and World Equestrian Games competitions. The method of body work he uses follows responses of the horse to touch that enable it to release tension in the body that affects performance and behavior. It is a method that anyone can use to improve performance and behavior and to open new levels of communication and trust with the horse.
[00:01:43] Thank you so much, Jim, for being here with us today. Could you share a little bit about yourself and where you're located and maybe a little bit of your journey leading up to starting your, what you do with the body work and everything?
[00:01:56] Jim: Sure. So, you know, when you do a bio, you don't know what, what, what kind of aspect that people are interested in. So I just, I like a short bio, but when you read it back it sounded really long.
[00:02:08] Adele: No, it's not too long, but no, we love details. Don't worry about it.
[00:02:12] Jim: Yeah. So I started doing this when I was grooming hunter Jumpers and I wasn't interested in equine massage or therapy or anything then, but, but I was kind of intrigued by when I would watch therapists work on the horses by subtle changes in the horse's behavior, and, and I've always been kind of less interested in, I'm not competitive and less interested in competing with the horse or making the horse do something. You know what, when I was younger it was just get on and gallop. You know, that was the thing. But I, that was my only goal. But when I, when I was grooming the hunter jumpers, I noticed when therapists were working on the horses, these really subtle changes in behavior in the horse, and I was intrigued by that. So I kind of exploring that and, and trying different things that some therapists were doing, but paying more attention to what the horse was saying with its changes in behavior, which I came to call responses. Responses to our touch and, and I kinda learned that if you slow way down and back way off, that the horse will start to become aware of what's going on in its body that it's been kind of covering. And it'll start to release the tension. And so it turned into this method of body work where you work with the horse and, and you tune it to release tension in the body body. And it turned out to be super effective. And I started doing it and working on hunter jumpers for a living. And I did that for nine years, like full-time and, and then people wanted to start to learn it because it's very interactive with the horse. You know, when you, when you start to slow down and pay attention to what the horse is telling you, then it it changes the whole game. It changes your relationship with your horse. And people could see that happening when I was working on their horses and they wanted to learn how to do it. So I started giving seminars and then I did a book and a dvd and it turned into this method. I just teach people now. Yeah,
[00:04:10] Adele: i, I think I own pretty much all your DVDs and books, so I'm a fan . It sounds very similar actually, to kind of the way I came to what I'm doing, and it was so interesting listening to you talk about your path towards learning this type of body work and creating it and teaching other people. From my perspective, from what I do, I very much work on behavioral stuff, so I'm working with horses that have Interesting and all the way to very damaging histories with people, and they have largely been taught to really shut down and suppress how they're feeling. And so what I do is I really go back in and show them that I'm going to listen to the very, very little subtle shifts of behavior and subtle shifts of their body and they start to learn to open back up and to trust and to change accordingly. And it sounds very much like what you're talking about, but in response to touch and to being, you know, worked with body work wise and. It's probably one of the reasons I'm so drawn to what you do, because it very much comes from a similar place and a similar desire to rebuild the horse's trust in people and in being touched and in allowing us to help them and in really encouraging them to speak up basically about how they're feeling and their experiences and such. Do you feel like that sounds pretty similar to what you, how you take-
[00:05:36] Jim: Yeah, a hundred, a hundred percent. It's the same nervous system that we're working with in the, in the body work as you're working within training with the horse or interacting with horse, it's the same nervous system and it responds the same. So, yeah. You know, just, you know, watching your video there, just, there were so many things that kind of. Connected with the way we do body work with horses. And when I was working on Hunter jumpers, I was dealing mostly with trainers, you know? Mm-hmm, and, and I realized, and, and then, you know, it's a competitive sport, you know, hunter jumpers show, but a lot of, or cons or competitive, a lot of things we do with the horses. And so we, you know, everybody, they all love their horses and they wanna do what's best for them. But they, the com competitions in in the, for. . And so they miss a lot of this, and the horses are so, they survive by adapting. So they adapt to the way we work with them and they adapt to, you know, the input. And so they're so adaptive that we miss what's really there. They're so accommodating. That's how they survive. They, they survive by adapting to their environment .
[00:06:44] Adele: Yeah. And I, I consider them a relatively, you know, they're a kind of a peacekeeping species, meaning there's, they really wanna keep peace with the other beings that they're interacting with, whether it's other horses or us. And so it really, it goes against their nature to really resist and to not adapt and to fight back. And that kind of puts us in a position where it's very easy to overlook their subtle forms of communication and to just kind of force them or push them into something that they're not quite ready for. And they're, they're kind of quietly whispering like, Hey, something's wrong. Something's wrong. And it's so easy for us, especially. I feel like the human nature is to be very just out there and kind of bowling through life. And horses are not that way.
[00:07:30] Jim: That's how, that's how we survive as humans. Yeah, exactly. We're just doing what we do to survive. So Yeah, absolutely. But, but I think, you know, like you just have to one, learn to just slow down and slow way down. We don't, it's hard for us to do. And then the other is to know what to look for. Mm-hmm. , because we, we can slow down with the horse and if we don't know the subtle signs to look for, then we don't. We're, we're kind of lost. You know, what do we do next?
[00:07:58] Adele: Yeah. I, one of the first things I usually, you know, when people come to me and ask for help in this area or that area, one of the first things I usually encourage them to do is to start studying very subtle forms of equine behavior and their body language and the way they communicate to us. And I remember for myself, I, cuz I grew up in Hunter Jumper I competed, I did state and bigger competitions. And then I switched over to dressage and I competed there for a long time and I was very competitive growing up. And then I met a horse that basically said that I needed to slow down and listen and learn , and I was so thankful to her for that, but it was hard. And one of the first things that really just stopped me dead in my tracks and changed everything was learning to really read body language of the horses and to slow down and to listen to them. Instead of kind of pushing my agenda on them. Mm-hmm. And so that's one of the first things that I encourage others to do because it, it's world changing and it's relationship changing and everything is so different when you can finally not just tell your horse what you want, but also hear back from them. And that's one thing I really love about your work is it is very in tune to that. It's very sensitive to how the horse is responding and it's to me, it's not like other body work for horses. Because of that, I find some body work is very intrusive and very just, you know, tie the horse up and make them deal with this discomfort, and we can, we're still too loud about it and I love how subtle and patient and quiet your whole body work process is. And I would love for you to explain a little bit more of how you feel. Your kind of process for body work is different than some other forms of body work?
[00:09:56] Jim: Well you were talking about traditional therapists or massage therapists or whatever are working on horses. They know that it's good for the horse, but the horse doesn't know that. So yes you know, they're, in that sense, they're working a little bit against the horse in a, in a way. And so when you learned how to pay attention to the subtle, well, you know, when you're, if you're not really, you know, sensitive energetically or anything, you, you have your visual cue. So if you know what to look for, then you can, you can identify when the horse is really not accepting what you're doing. And so that's what makes this a little more effective. And it's interesting, you said something that made me think of, you know, when the horse, when you learn how to read what the horse is telling you, it's a new level of communication with the horse. Then it's, that's like a huge jump. But then the horse, when the horse gets that, you're getting what it's saying. That's another huge jump. Yes. So that's a really interesting thing. I was talking with Warwick Schiller on a podcast about that and that was we were talking about that. And he kind of got what I was talking about. He already, he already knew it, but yeah. It's, you know, when you get, when you learn to read what the horse is saying, it's huge. But then when the horse gets that, you're getting it, that changes the whole thing cuz they let you in then. That's when they let you in. .
[00:11:12] Adele: And that's when the trust really starts to build up. Yeah. Especially horses that have largely been ignored.
[00:11:18] Jim: Which is most horses, , which is with humans, most horses, not because we're being mean to them, but because we just don't. Yes. You know, we're not exposed to that yet.
[00:11:26] Adele: Yeah. And, and I will say that, you know, I work with a lot of people and that can be really, It's hard to all of a sudden start hearing what your horse has to say about what you're doing. It's hard to embrace that and accept it cuz it may not be the what you wanna hear. And what's interesting to me, and I've seen this happen many times, where these horses where largely their history has told them that people don't really pay attention. And then they meet somebody, let's say it's me, that pays attention and responds and respects what they are and are not comfortable with and all that. They start doing things for me and are willing to put up with things for me that they won't do for anybody else. And it's such a beautiful thing to. and see happen in, in that trust to really build and their horses' confidence to start really building. And then my task from that point forward is to, you know, start showing that horse that I'm not the only one that other people will listen to. And one of those areas is in body work and I specifically work with body workers, whether it's massage or acupuncture or farriers, even trimmers, farriers, I consider that kind of in that similar category. Yeah. That are very intuned to the horse and are patient. And even if they don't know the horse very well, they are quick to respond to my cues that the horses had enough. Like, we need to take a break that, or we need to do this or we need to do that. And it's such a beautiful relationship that they can build with their body workers and start to learn to trust more people. Yeah.
[00:13:02] Jim: Well, it's that curiosity that, that that they have. And it's a subtle curiosity that allows them to trust, trust what, you know, trust us, you know, but we miss that curiosity part. You know, once you, you create the opening for that curiosity, then they're gonna, they're gonna. Wait and see what's next with you rather than leave.
[00:13:25] Adele: Yeah, definitely. And you can cultivate that and really grow it and build it, or you can crush it . And unfortunately, too many horses have had it, had it really crushed in them, you know?
[00:13:35] Jim: But it's cool because you can get it back. You can get it back, you know, in most cases. And unless it's really bad. And when you, when you, when it goes into the realm of body work and the horse's physiology, they're holding a lot of stuff in their physiology. They, they have trouble letting go. They can't let go. You know, it's not a, it's not a mental thing or a trust thing. It's like it's in their physiology. And it can be from something that's happened in the past that's like an accident or an incident or it can be, well, we're getting into what's creates tension in the horse's body. Work overwork incidents, you know, physical incidents or accidents. Sore feet, dental issues, saddle fit. The way the rider rides, there's a whole list of things that creates tension in the horse's body, but once they, once they, they have that tension, they have a hard time letting go of it because they're not pro, they're programmed to, to, to guard it and, and block it out. So that's how they survive in the wild. If they show the first sign of discomfort, if they start kind of dragging a foot or something, then they become a target. So they're just wired to cover it. So even that mental, their or their experiences in the past with humans will just be kind of, kind of become ingrained in their body. That's probably easier for them to get over than the physical stuff. Probably much easier when they come across a trainer like you that's gonna pay attention. But that physical stuff is, it's stuck. It's stuck there. And so that's where the body work comes in, I think to help it. And if a human is part of that process of releasing physical tension, then it, it's even better, you know, as far as trust goes. Then relationship goes. If we come along and help them release it, then it really helps.
[00:15:15] Adele: Yes, I agree. I have a young mare, she had multiple surgeries on her knees at a very early age. She was only like 18 months old and you know, this is an example of a horse that doesn't have like a long history of a, you know, abuse, right, neglect, or any, she just had surgeries cuz her knees were not, they were not growing straight and, and I was amazed at how long her body, and still to this day, we're still working through it, how long she's been holding onto that. I don't, I don't know if I wanna call it tension or what, but it is there, it is still in her chest and in her knees and her legs. It's taken a long time for her to really work through that, and also at the same time she's growing. So that adds a factor to it. and, it's amazing how long the body.
[00:16:02] Jim: Really, she's, she's compensating as she's growing.
[00:16:04] Adele: Yes, exactly. Yeah. So it's amazing how long the body really holds onto all of that. And something that seems fair. I mean, it wasn't like anything super crazy, you know, like a colic surgery, but it also was traumatic to the body, especially considering she had to be you know, carried by her feet, you know, to the surgery tables and all that. And that's put so much strain on the body.
[00:16:25] Jim: Oh no. Yeah, I don't, yeah, when they, when they, you know, hoist them. Yep. After their, I mean, that's, that alone is, can cause a lot of stress. You know, I, you know, I use tension as kind of a generic term. It's, it's it's stress on the body. And the tension is what kind of remains after, after the stress is put on the body.
[00:16:45] Adele: So I would like to talk to you a little bit more specifically about the type of body work you do. I have some questions even for myself and, you know, I've, I do what I can as far as implementing what I've learned from your materials. And then I do have people I hire that also are either certified in what you do or have learned as well. And I always have ongoing questions. I'm, I'm guess I should put it this way. Okay. I am always curious to hear how very experienced body workers and horse people like yourself choose to do certain things. And one of the first questions I have is what is your thoughts on. , you know, allowing the horse to move around during getting body work. And if they were to want to walk off because something's uncomfortable mm-hmm. and then maybe come back, is that something that usually you encourage or would you prefer the horse to stick around or kind of what's your process on that?
[00:17:38] Jim: So when you're, you're with this method of body work, we start with really light levels of pressure and almost non-pressure, like that bladder meridian technique that we do. There's no pressure on the horse at all. You're just going down the top line of the horse with your hand very lightly, not even touching the skin hardly. And you're watching for subtle changes in the horse's behavior, which I call responses. So the the most common is the blink, you know? So if you're going down lightly, starting at the poll, going down this line called the bladder Meridian. and you're watching the horse's eye and you come across the point where the horse blinks, then you, that means the horse just felt something under your finger, and so you stay there and do nothing. You just wait, and what you're doing is keeping the horse's attention or awareness on that area that it's been kind of covering up to survive and you keep it's awareness on it till it, the nervous system starts to let it go. And then when it, when it release, starts to release the tension, it'll give you the other signs responses like licking and chewing, shifting weight from leg to light leg yawning or repeated yawning, which is a huge release of tension. So you're, you're kind of just. Bringing the horse's awareness to something it's been blocking out. And so during that process of waiting for the horse's nervous system to start to release it, there's a, a phase in their eye called fidgeting. They start to fidget. And it, that means it's a little uncomfortable because they've been, they it's uncomfortable, uncomfortable for them to feel it. And so they wanna fidget. And so fidget might be as in some horses, it might just be. They look around a little bit and then they release, or some horses mean they might wanna walk away from it because it's uncomfortable for them to, to experience that. And so if you have the option of just letting them walk away, then that's fine. And then when they're comfortable, they'll come back. But if you're working on a horse, you know you're doing this on, you know, more, just more than your own horse, you don't really have the time to allow that to happen. So, You wanna keep them in the area. And I call, just keep 'em in the neighborhood. Don't keep the pressure on, you know, back off a little to where it's comfortable, but then you wanna keep 'em with you. So ideally I like to work in the stall with the horse because I can step back, let the horse go, and it can walk away around in the stall and then it comes back again. So but that's an interesting part of that because it's the, the, the, the stress and tension they're holding in their body, it's, it's, they've been blocking it out to and when you bring their attention to it, it's uncomfortable. So they naturally wanna leave. And so you, you you have to, the way I look at it is it's like they're a kid that doesn't wanna do their homework. So I say, okay, I know you don't wanna do your homework, but we gotta do our homework, so stick around a little longer, we're gonna do our homework. And then they release the tension and then when they release it, it's like, okay, that was worth it, you know?
[00:20:27] Adele: Yeah, that makes sense. And I would imagine the more time you're able to work with the horse, said horse, that they'll start to trust the process a little bit more and hang around quite a bit more.
[00:20:38] Jim: Every horse is different. You know, they have, they have huge differences in personality that sometimes, you know, correlates to their breed. Sometimes not, and sometimes to their past, you know, their history, but they have different personalities and some horses right away. When you're doing that bladder meridian technique, you can learn like within a couple minutes. I have a very stoic horse. I have a expressive horse. I have a very expressive but untrusting horse, I have a very expressive, but a very trusting horse. You learn pretty quickly what kind of horse you have but it's always the same. You just gotta stay there long enough for them to start to release it. And then however they respond to it they respond to it. Yeah. But the, the end goal's the same. You wanna get 'em to release it. And you wanna do it in a way that's the least uncomfortable for the horse. You don't want go in their guns blazing. You don't wanna ignore the horse. Everything we do with this method of body work, we're paying attention to what the horse is saying. And so you have to adjust what you're doing to the what, what the horse is saying so that they're as relaxed as possible. Cuz it doesn't work if they're not relaxed. If they're guarded, and bracing and tense, it's not gonna work. They won't. So that makes, that's the difference I think between this and traditional, you know, I think originally when people started working on horses was, you know, they were taking human sports massage therapy and, and applying it to horses. And they probably learned right away that you can't just do that. You have to adjust somewhat because you can't tell the horse, don't worry, it'll be fine. You know, they don't, they dunno what you're talking about, the, you know, so it's been a process of learning. Adjust to the way the horse responds to the body work. Like Jack Maher was the first, you know, big guy that big human sports massage therapist and trigger point guy that started working on, on horses and it worked. You know, they got results when he was working on the horses at work, but they, it's been a process of getting people to start to pay attention to how the horse is responding to the body work. And what the cool thing about what we do. It works. It works much better when you pay attention to what the horse is telling you and adjust what you're doing to what the horse is saying. It just, the horse starts to release the tension instead of you mechanically separating muscle fibers or, or pushing on something until for 90 seconds, you know?
[00:22:49] Adele: That makes sense. Yeah. What are your recommendations? I got a question from one of my students and she wanted me to ask you this, and I'm curious to hear your answer as well. What are your recommendations for horses that are really nervous about being touched or don't like being touched? Maybe they have a long, you know, history of having really severe ulcers and touching is just low on the, you know, the list of their preferences. Right. I would imagine, knowing what I know, you just are gonna talk about. Potentially using the lightest possible touch that the horse will accept. But I wanna hear, you know, what your response to that. Maybe even this horse doesn't even want you to kind of approach or put your hand anywhere near them. Right? What are your thoughts on that?
[00:23:31] Jim: Yeah, so you might go into a stall with a horse, or if you're in the cross ties or whatever, and, and you go to put your hand up to the to the horse. , it backs away, you know, its eyes get wide and it backs away. Well, right away it's, you know, that's pretty clear. So you back off and you back your hand away. So I always use the bladder meridian technique, which is where we start with the horse in which I'll do a short commercial. We have a video on our website that's 15 minutes that's free on how to do the bladder meridian. It's very kind of pretty detailed on how to do it. . So, and you start at the poll . Generally, if the horse is way too sensitive to the pole, you start some, you start farther down the neck towards the withers. But let's say you go, you go to put your hand up by the poll and the horse backs away and it, and its eyes get white. Will you back away from, let's say, here's the, you know, you don't have your video on, let's say here's the horse's neck. You put your hand up there and it backs away. You back your hand away until the horse starts to relax, meaning it's head drops a little. and it's eye softens or it blinks, and you can do that technique from, from 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 inches away from the horse, you just back your hand away till the horse starts to soften a little bit. When the horse softens, that's where you stop because that's where the horse's nervous system is gonna start to let the tension go. And you can, so you can do that bladder meridian technique from sometimes a foot away from. And you just wait there until the, where the horse is comfortable, until the horse's nervous system starts to let go more and more and more, and then it drops its head and it starts to look at you or yawn. So you're paying, so you're paying so close attention. Everything you're doing is guided by what the horse's responses are telling you, and you have to find that spot where the horse is able to let it happen.
[00:25:14] Adele: Then do you feel like when you're working. Large of a distance from the horse, meaning your hand isn't even touching the horse touching at this point. Do you feel like at that point you're working more, you kind of preparing the horse for what comes later? Or do you feel like you're actively engaging with the body and helping them relieve tension.
[00:25:34] Jim: No, you're actually, you're not waiting. You're actually actively engaging with the body. Okay. At that. At that point, you're not just waiting till the horse says, okay, I'm gonna let you in. You're finding that point where the horse is gonna let you. And you're waiting till the nervous system starts to let go. So, yeah. Yeah. So that's a good question. You're active, you're actively giving the horses' body a chance to release tension. So I kind of think of it. I learned later, you know, after I was working on horses, I always knew from the right, from the beginning that there's a part of the horse's nervous system that guards and protects what they're feeling because that's, that's how they survive and there's a part that, that lets it go. And so you're, you're finding that point where they switch from guarding it to letting it go, and you're staying there long enough for that, that kind of switch to happen. And so I learned later it was the you know, just in a simplistic view, which is my favorite view, you have the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic, so the sympathetic is the fight, flight, or freeze. And the parasympathetic is the rest, relax, rest and digest they call it. And that's the regenerating part of the nervous system. So, they're guarding this, they're protecting this, this stress in their body to survive with the sympathetic. And then you're bringing their attention to that. And then you're backing off until they can, they can start to let the parasympathetic take over. And then when that starts to happen, they start to relax. And then when they start to release the tension, that's when you get the visual signs like the licking and chewing. Shifting weight from leg to leg, yawning, repeated yawning. Sometimes they'll, they'll cough or snort and sneeze repeatedly, but those are the signs that they're releasing the tension. So your question about it, are you, you're, you're actively working with the horse when you're, that, when you're, you know, two inches, 4, 6, 10 away from the horse, you're when, and you know you are because you're paying attention to his responses, you're watching his eye. And when your back, your hand away til he may not, not even like his ears are still forward or back or whatever, and his and his eyes are wired and his heads away. But you back your hand away and all of a sudden he blinks. Well, that's the point where you stop and you wait right there, because that's gonna keep his attention on it in a way that he can't brace against it. So that's the long answer. The short answer to your question was yes.
[00:27:50] Adele: No, I, I love that answer. Which it you know, it brings me to something else I wanted to discuss, which is, you know I don't know if you've heard of the book, language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses. Okay. And, and she talks, you know, about how these different signs, like all, pretty much the whole list that you just mentioned are signs of, you know, the horse trying to calm themselves down, calm their environment or down all of that and it signs of the nervous system transitioning. Yeah. So, I love that this all really is collaborative and works together, and it sounds to me, and feel free to elaborate or correct it, but it sounds to me that maybe with the horses that struggle, With being touched and having body work. Initially, we're really working in a little bit more of a mental state, but it o it obviously very much correlates to the rest of the body. They're all connected. It's a, yeah there's not one than the other. And then gradually will work up to perhaps maybe targeting a specific area as the horse grows more comfortable later on.
[00:28:55] Jim: Yeah. You have to back away till the, at least can accept it. So that's what the blink tells you. The blink tells you that they're feeling it, but they're not bracing against it. So if you stay that, and that's where the patience comes in, you have to just wait there and allow, allow the horse to start to that, that transition to, to take place. And that's the hard part for humans. You know, we have a hard time waiting. We think, you know, if less is more, even more, less is more, you know, or something, I don't, you know, we, we feel like we need to be doing something all the time. So I'll, if you just back away and wait. And that's the hard part of this is just waiting for the horses' body to, to start to, to transition and let go. And and if you do have that patience or all you have to have is enough patience to try it. And then once you see the results, you see the horse start to. See, see the horse start to wobble from like, to like, from just doing nothing. Then it starts to click with, with us, you.
[00:29:50] Adele: That sounds very much like my whole journey with horses in general. I used to not be a very patient person at all. I was definitely a go big or go home, keep putting pressure on, let's make this happen right now. And some very special horses in my life, you know, really brought that to a screeching halt and started teaching me the opposite. And so it's been a huge exercise in learning to be very patient. And I remember I first started working with your stuff and, and finding it. During the early stages of that personal growth for myself that the horses were teaching me. And I remember thinking, oh my gosh, this takes so much patience that I do not have .
[00:30:29] Jim: It's only cause you weren't used to it. So, so I had a much easier time with it cause I'm naturally lazy . So, and the other part that, the other, I joke about this all the time because when I started doing working you know, doing body work, work with horses. I had no training at all. I was a groom. And and so I wasn't, I didn't have any I wasn't trained to do anything with the horse. So when I started noticing these change, these responses, I called them in the horse. I had the patience to wait to see what would happen because I, and then I also wasn't trained to do anything. I was uneducated and lazy . So that was my, those were my two biggest, you know, advantages over other people that were trained and that were ambitious to get things done.
[00:31:12] Adele: Yes, that was me. I am very ambitious and I was always thought that you need to get done quickly.
[00:31:17] Jim: So you've seen, you've seen the light.
[00:31:18] Adele: I've seen the lights. Yes. And now I have three children, so they're continuing to teach me.
[00:31:23] Jim: Oh, good. Oh yeah. You, you really have to be patient. I don't have kids. I can't imagine.
[00:31:27] Adele: Definitely. Between all the horses and the kids, I've learning a lot. . We'll just put it that way. Okay, so with that being said, on. I know you're not gonna be able to give me an answer on this because every horse is different, every situation's different, but
[00:31:42] Jim: Well, I might be able to give you some insight
[00:31:44] Adele: maybe. Okay. In there we go. An insight. How on average, maybe, I don't know. In general, how long do sessions usually take and. Yeah. So let's just start there like, and do, I guess I, yeah, it probably depends on if you're going for like a full body session or a targeted area. So let's say full body.
[00:32:04] Jim: How long? So, so when we work on the horse we, you wanna do the whole body because but you don't have to do it all at once. It's just that you don't wanna, so if your horse has a problem, let's say he I dunno, I'll pick something. Well, it's an obvious problem. He, he won't bend to the right , let's say. So you don't just go work on the right side of the neck or the body because he won't bend to the right. And even if you identify where there's a problem, you don't just keep working on the problem because that problem is connected to another problem and to another problem. So it's really the whole body's involved in every problem. So in general, we always work on the whole horse. We don't just focus on the problem and we always, we also don't go straight to the problem because if you go where the horse is more, most uncomfortable, he's gonna brace against it. So you wanna go where he is the most less, he's the most comfortable . So the answer is all has to do with the answer. One, you wanna do the whole horse if you really wanna get down to what's going on, but you don't have to do it all at once. But if you're gonna do the whole horse on one session, it's gonna take probably an hour and a half or maybe. To do the whole horse. But that doesn't, you know, if you're working on horses for a living and you gotta go from horse to horse, then you have an hour and a half, maybe two for each horse. But if you, if you're working on your own horse, you can do a little bit every day. But even if you know where the problem is, on what spot on the horse where you think the problem is, you don't wanna just go keep working on that. You wanna work on the whole horse, okay? Even if it's over a period of how long, who knows? Or, or even the horses' whole life, you just, okay. You know what I mean? Chip away. You don't wanna just keep trying attacking the problem because the problem is more than that. And also, if you keep attacking the problem, the prob the horse is gonna start to internally brace against that.
[00:33:49] Adele: Yeah. Especially for somebody like myself. I have seven of my own horses and worked full-time, three kids, all of that. Yeah. An hour and a half per horse for a full body session just sounds overwhelming to say the least.
[00:34:02] Jim: Yeah, so you just do a little bit every day and then you start, if you're learning, if you're learned to pay attention with to the horse's responses, pretty soon you're gonna, you're gonna know where he's got more going on and where he's got less going on. And so you can come back the next day and you can do a little. , and then you move on, and then you come back the next day and do a little more and move on. And every time you release, you make a change in the horse's body. The horse has to, his nervous system has to process it. So you, you you don't just keep working on it. You work on it a little bit and move on so that they can process that. So, does that make sense?
[00:34:35] Adele: Yeah, no, that, that definitely does. That's a great answer.
[00:34:37] Jim: And kind of, but, but part of that was that when you're, when you, once you start paying attention to the horse's responses, it all starts to make sense. Everything I'm saying makes sense. Yeah. And you know, you just start to know, okay, he's done here. He's actually stopped responding here because he, he needs to process it. So you move on and you go move to the next thing, which the next thing he tells you in his body is probably gonna have to do with what you just were working on.
[00:35:01] Adele: Yes. That makes sense. Especially the whole body being connected and Yeah. Not, not, that's one of my tendencies has always been to oh, I found a problem, I'm gonna target it, and then I just right. Wanna attack it. But obviously yeah. You know, everything is connected and we can't. Yeah. That's just something I've been learning about.
[00:35:19] Jim: Some people that are very goal oriented , it takes a while when they come to our courses and things, they come to our courses, takes a while for them to shift from that. No, no, I gotta fix this. If you, and you can't fix anything. You know, if you have that, if you have that mindset that you wanna fix this, The horse is gonna internally brace against it, and you're not gonna be able to fix it. You're gonna just have, the horse isn't gonna do it with you or cooperate. And if you let go of that idea that you have to fix something and you just really, you make an improvement here, release some tension, move on, make an improvement here, you end up fixing it. But if you have the intention of trying to fix it, the horse will pick up on it and they, and it won.
[00:35:57] Adele: That sounds so familiar. And I'm always on.
[00:36:00] Jim: Yeah, because like, it's like in training you, you missed that part where the horse participates if you try to, if you're trying to make. Fix something or make something
[00:36:08] Adele: happen. Well, in, in the horse bracing when they sense an agenda. I mean, that's something even in training. I will I tell my, my clients and also myself before I go into sessions yeah. , if I'm determined that I'm going to achieve, you know, let's say I have a horse that doesn't wanna pick up its feet, you know, today we are gonna pick up your feet. It's not gonna happen. It's just not. Mm-hmm. or it's gonna be a terrible mess if I go in, however, saying, all right, today I'd like to, in general, work around hoof handling. We'll see how far we get. Mm-hmm. , let's see what you're comfortable with. We end up having a beautiful training session and we pick up all four feet and it's amazing.
[00:36:42] Jim: Yeah. It's, it's, or, or you just accept that maybe he shifts his weight. Okay, then we're, we're good. We're gonna move on and then we're gonna come back. And maybe next time he picks his foot up and puts it right down. Okay. We're good. And then you move on and do some more and come back. It's, you know, I was, I, it's amazing how it's the same nervous system, whether you're training or releasing tension in the horse's body works the same.
[00:37:05] Adele: Yes. I, that is something I've been learning and loving learning about.
[00:37:10] Jim: But it's, it's never ending because, you know, I've been doing this a long. And I'm always reminding myself, wait a minute, slow down. You know, it's not, I'm not going at my agenda. You know, you have to, you have a, you know, you wanna help the horse, but you have to let go of your agenda in order, in order to do it. Because they'll pick up on your agenda and it's way too much for them at that point.
[00:37:33] Adele: So yes, I've, that is, that is a huge thing is our, just with the way our brain works and very goal oriented task oriented.
[00:37:42] Jim: And we have a, we already have a picture way ahead of what we want. You know, we have a picture of that and they don't have that picture. You know, they don't think that way. They just think in the moment. So that's way overwhelming for them.
[00:37:54] Adele: I was about to say, I must, it just, if you sit back and really think about what it must be like from the horse's perspective, they must get so overwhelmed by us and are just come in and conquer mindset that, well a lot of us have.
[00:38:06] Jim: And they deal with it just by kind of shutting down and going along.
[00:38:09] Adele: Yeah. And tuning out as much as they can. As they can. Yeah.
[00:38:12] Jim: It works for them, you know, with us, you know. Yeah. Well we've, but it's, it's not the best, it's not the best thing for them.
[00:38:20] Adele: I was about to say, we have to define works for they get to stay alive.
[00:38:23] Jim: Yeah. They get to stay alive. Yeah. Right.
[00:38:26] Adele: They're, they're surviving a lot of the times. Not always thriving. Yeah. Because of it, so It's true.
[00:38:31] Jim: Yeah. Surviving instead of thriving.
[00:38:34] Adele: Yep. What are your thoughts on horses eating during sessions, especially horses that might be stressed or nervous around people? Is it maybe something you could use temporarily to help the horse, or is that something that's kind of not good?
[00:38:48] Jim: You can, but when they eat, they kind of block out. Food blocks out everything that, you know, all the sensation that you're, they have to actually, you know, I'm gonna do my really terrible Dr. Phil impersonation. Okay. That they have to feel it to heal it . So, you know, so when you're working on 'em and you start to bring this stuff up and they, and then it's a little uncomfortable, the first thing they wanna do is eat. And so as soon as they start eating, they block it out. So if it gets really, you know, when you're working on the horse, they get really, really, it's too much for. And they just won't let you work on 'em. Then you let 'em go do whatever they want. Hopefully you're gonna, you're gonna pick up on that before that happens and, and back off a little bit so they can handle it. But food kind of blocks out the whole process of them feeling what's going on. So if you have the time and you wanna just let them go eat, then you can do that.
[00:39:36] And then you can come back later and work on them some more. But, but you have to pay it. You have to realize that food is, they're gonna go to pretty quickly because that's how they can kind of block it all out. And that, and the way I look at it, that's how they got in there. You know, they got there by blocking it all out. Yeah. And so, you know, I, when I'm working on the horse, I take all the food out of the stall and I don't, and, and if they go to, if there is food on the ground and they go to eat, I ask them not to, you know, and then it's pretty kind of cool because you only have to ask them a couple times and, oh, you don't want me to eat, you know? a lot of times they don't know what we want and all they, and once they know what we want, they go.
[00:40:15] Adele: So do you find that there are certain times of the day or certain, I, I'm just imagining for my horses, it's been a while, I'll be honest, since I've done this type of body work with my horses it's been very stressful life recently, but, oh wow. I wanna get back into it and I, I'm picturing my horses' routines and it seems like an ideal point would be when they're in a more restful state, but also not really eating, maybe. You know, snoozing off under a tree.
[00:40:41] Jim: Oh yeah. Ideally would be when they're done eating and they're standing there taking a nap, you know? But it, it works best when they're cold, you know, it, it does, this type of body work doesn't work well after they say you just come in from a lesson or from writing or something and, and their nervous system is still kind of, you know alert and firing. So it works back after they've cooled down. And have relaxed a while. You know, say they've come. You know, if you, you know, if you give 'em a bath, they've taken a bath and, or you put 'em in, you know, you groom 'em and then you put 'em in the stall, they eat and then they're done eating. That's the best time. So not while they're right after they've been working. So that makes sense. The evening, you know, I used to, when I was working on jumpers, you know, and all day long and some of 'em would be just after they had breakfast in, that's fine. Some after they've been out for a lesson or something and they come back in and they're in the stall, but they're still kind of, you know, they just washed 'em off, but they're still hot. That's not the most ideal time, but you know, you had to do them. The best time was in the evening, you know, after they've done feeding. The grooms have all gone home. The trainers are gone and it's nice and quiet in the barn they've eaten. That was the probably the best.
[00:41:57] Adele: It's my favorite time of the day, I don't blame 'em for being that being the good time. So I had let's see, another question. Oh, about, okay. So let's say you've been working on a horse fairly frequently and, they kind of know the drill. Do you ever feel or have experienced where a horse might be quicker to express certain behavior to get you to kind. I don't know if, if to stop or to back, like maybe, maybe when you first started working with a horse, it would take a while before they would release this tension, but now, it seems like it almost as soon as you begin, they know the drill and so they're starting to release tension right away. Do you think? Yeah. That, that's them kind of trusting the process and releasing tension quicker? Or is it potentially a little bit also a defense where they're like, okay, I'm gonna get, I'm gonna help this person along and move this along faster and do this quicker?
[00:42:48] Jim: No, I don't think that happens. Okay. They don't, they're, they don't, they're not that devious.
[00:42:54] Adele: Well, I don't think they're devious either, but I do think that they can learn
[00:42:58] Jim: Yeah. I, I see what you mean. But no, they'll learn how to, they'll become conditioned to release more easily. Like you'll walk in the stall and they'll drop their hood and start yawning sometimes. Ok. You know, some horses depends on the horse, so they'll become conditioned to releasing. So you'll just show up and they'll all of a sudden start, you know, relaxing and shifting weight. Yeah, that's kinda I was talking about. Yeah. It's a direct connection. You know, they've, they've, their nervous systems become conditioned to releasing easily and so that happens. But it depends on the horse. Some horses, they're always gonna be, they're always gonna be apprehensive about it, you know? So, okay. But it doesn't take long If you, if you stay light enough, long enough, they have to release the, it's like a, it's like a state law. They have to release their, their nervous system has no choice. It's a, you're bringing their attention to where the, where they're, where they're feeling stress and in a way they can't brace against. and they'll try to not release it. But if you stay light enough, long enough and give 'em nothing, nothing to brace along against their nervous system's gonna switch from that parent sympathetic to the parent's sympathetic and they're gonna start to release. So, so with some horses, they just become automatically conditioned to that. And it happens easily. And other horses, it's just, it's they don't they, you just have to wait.
[00:44:09] Adele: And is that, is that what you meant? And you find, I'm kind of assuming this, that the results of that session are the same.
[00:44:17] Jim: Yeah, they're the same. Yeah. Well, I am not gonna say a hundred percent of the time they're the same. Those really, really resistant, guarded horses are, it's gonna take longer and at the other end of the spectrum, the horse that completely trusts and completely loves it is gonna release a lot easier and probably is gonna be more, it's probably gonna be more, but it's, you're still gonna, you're still gonna get an improvement with those other horses, but you may not get the improvement that you're that, that you were ex expecting with the horse that. Completely is tuned into it, you know?
[00:44:52] Adele: Gotcha. So like the, the post session results as far as their movement and all that appears to be the same, even if they are quick to release, like as soon as you walked in the stall, kind of example.
[00:45:03] Jim: Yeah, but that also depends on what the issues, what issues they have, you know, and how, how bad they are. So, you know, some horses, you're gonna peel off really thin layers of the onion and other horses, it's just gonna let go, you know, depending on the physical issue, not, not even so much. Their mentality or their trusting this, it might just be plaino physiological. You know, like a horse has been in a, a trailer accident and they've really jammed up in their, in their in their trunk and their thorax, and it's been there a long, long time. It might take much. And they're very kind of reactive, like a thoroughbred and very, you know, high strung horse. It might take a long, long time to peel off those, but you might have another horse that doesn't have a serious issue that they'll just let it go, you know? Yeah. So it's not just the, it's not just the trusting this of the horse, it's the what's causing what you're working on in the body. You know what I mean? Yeah. Because you can release all the tension you want in the horse's body, but if there's some, whatever the primary issue that's causing it, if you don't, if you don't deal with that, then it's gonna come back again. So if you have a horse. With sore, a sore front feet or, or a front foot issue that's creating the tension in the body. Then you can come and release the tension in the body. But if you don't deal with that, the foot issue, it's gonna come back again. So I, I think that what I mean is, you know, there's a physiological part of this that. Absolutely.
[00:46:24] Adele: Yeah. Especially, I mean, a good example the teeth versus the body. Yes. You know, a lot of people wanna keep doing body work, but really it's up in the teeth and the head, right? And or they just work on the teeth and they forget the body part of it. It's all so connected.
[00:46:37] Jim: Yeah. It is all connected. You know, the feet, the teeth, you know, the rider, the saddle is a big issue, you know, can be a big issue and.
[00:46:46] Adele: Yeah, so different horses and, and then there's got, you've got some, like, I've got a senior horse who, I mean, honestly, his life was just hell. And he has all kinds of physical, he, you know, remodeled ribs, fused spine, you know, partially dislocated jaw at one point, just like a mess. The poor thing. And so he's just, we're just kind of keeping them comfortable at this point. Yeah. But he's gonna be one of. That it's like an ongoing, you know, just it becomes a maintenance.
[00:47:14] Jim: Yes. Or a management management thing or a maintenance thing.
[00:47:16] Adele: Yes. Versus a repair, cuz that's right. It's not going anywhere at 27.
[00:47:21] Jim: No , you just wanna keep them comfortable. But it's gonna be hugely beneficial for the horse cuz they, they, when they, when they have that, that much stuff going on, their whole nervous system kind of tightens up to protect everything. And if you can just come along and do that, the bladder Meridian, and just get them to let go that inner kinda guardedness and then it becomes easier to deal with the other things. And I get so many emails from people that have gone and done the bladder Meridian off of our YouTube videos or the on the website or got the video, the Beyond Horse Massage or whatever they do, the bladder meridian on on their horse and their horse that has been so tense and guarded and not quite right for, for years and years and years. All of a sudden just lets it go. And it's from doing almost nothing.
[00:48:05] Adele: That's awesome. That's really exciting, you must love getting those emails. That's so exciting. Yeah, to hear that. Yeah. Well on that note everybody go check out that video
[00:48:15] Jim: It's on our website, mastersonmethod.Com. It's on there somewhere. I'm gonna bring it up and see. So it's just called Bladder Meridian. It's from our light to the core video, which is very light, light techniques, and you know, I put a lot of stuff out there on YouTube and for free because I want people to go try it. And see if they like it. And if they like it, then they're gonna wanna come back and, and learn more. And even if they don't come back, at least they've got a start, you know? At helping their horse.
[00:48:44] Adele: Yeah. Or even they just got one more experience about learning how to be lighter versus, strong.
[00:48:49] Jim: Yeah. But it's like we were both talking about you have to constantly remind yourself, you know, to soften and back off and pay attention to the horse. Because we get, especially when we get on a roll. Oh, this is working. This is working. This is working. Oh, the sudden it's not working. , why isn't it working anymore? We step back and, and check ourselves. Our we soft, our intention, is it too strong or too much for the horse?
[00:49:11] Adele: Can you tell my audience, Jim the best way to find out more information? I know we just mentioned your website, but go ahead and mention it again and, Yeah. Anywhere they can find your stuff. Yeah.
[00:49:22] Jim: It's called, it's our website is the masterson method.com and on there we have. At this, I just went on here to see it, scroll at the bottom of the first page, you have free educational videos, and I have probably like 20 YouTube videos on different things. And there's one called the bladder Meridian. Oh yeah. Working with the bladder Meridian and yeah, it's the first one and it's 15 minutes and it's very, it explains everything and it demonstrate I'm working on a horse. So it shows how it works and so, you know, I want people to go just try it and see if they like it. But otherwise you can buy our book Beyond Horse Massage and the DVD Beyond Horse Massage, which is basically what we teach in a weekend seminar workshop. And there's another video called Light to the Core, which is very light techniques, which are super effective, and I'm even getting lighter and lighter the longer I do this. So, I need to watch it every once in a while remind yourself, and then we, then we have that a five day advanced course and a certification process. But it's just step by step. You do, you, you try something, see if you like it, if you wanna learn more, you go, go learn more. But it's all super user friendly and super it transforms your relationship with your horse if you're at all, you know, observant of what's going.
[00:50:35] Adele: So, and you, you certify practitioners, correct?
[00:50:38] Jim: Yeah.
[00:50:38] Adele: And how can people, if they're interested in hiring somebody,
[00:50:42] Jim: we have find a practitioner button right at the top of our website because we have probably, I don't know, 350 people around the world. And the cool thing about our practitioners is they all wanna teach it. So they'll show you when they work on your horse, they'll, they'll tell you what they're finding, they'll show you techniques you can to continue to keep the horse released. Tension in those areas or in general? So they, when they come work on your horse, they don't just come work on your horse, like they can't. Not share what they're doing. , they're excited, they're about what they're doing.
[00:51:12] Adele: That sounds very fun. Yeah. Well thank you so much, Jim, for sharing all of your wonderful information with us today and sharing all the wonderful information that you have for free. It sounds like you've got a, a more than I even realized, to be honest, because when I got all your stuff, it was quite a while ago, so it was lots of free information.
[00:51:32] Jim: Yeah, we keep putting stuff on there all the time, you know, I just want people to go out and try it and, and I you know, looking at your website, I was kinda in, there were a few things in there that, I mean, key things that kind of clicked with, with with what you know, we are doing with horses that are a little bit beyond what you know, Kind of conventional, even natural horsemanship is, you know, this, there's a, there's a, there's a missing, there's a gap in there that that you're feeling.
[00:52:00] Adele: Well, I appreciate that and definitely I don't consider myself very conventional. I have lots of, lots of people's opinions about what I do, but I love sharing. Sharing it in just similar mindset. I feel like we have a very similar mindset as far as just like, just give it a try and it'll, it'll help in some way, even if you don't like, keep going or whatever. There's just, anyway, and I'd love to do things like this podcast and my YouTube channels and stuff like that and just helping people try something new.
[00:52:30] Jim: Yeah, try it. And then, and you know, if people wanna learn more, they'll come and learn more. If not, they learned what they learned.
[00:52:38] Adele: Yeah. All right. Well I am going to say goodbye and I so appreciate you chatting with us today. Everybody go check out masterson method.com and we will. Talk to you guys,
[00:52:49] Jim: and you're, and we're gonna share this podcast on our website newsletter too. So, perfect. Yes. We'll be sharing it everywhere. So even though this isn't my podcast, I'll say, when you listen to this, go to the willing equine if you're listening on our stuff and check out what, what you have to say there.
[00:53:06] Adele: Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Jim, for joining us.
[00:53:09] Jim: You're welcome.
[00:53:16] Thanks so much for listening. If you'd like to find out more, head to my website, the willing equine.com. I'm also on a lot of different social media platforms, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook. So check those out and I'd love to hear from you, so don't hesitate to email or send me a message.