Equine Hanna Somatic Education®: Mind-Body Integration for Performance Enhancement

by Lisa Carter on February 7, 2013

Alissa Mayer is a Certified Equine HannaSomatic Eductora - Mind-Body Integration for Performance EnhancementEquine Hanna Somatic Education®
Mind-Body Integration for Performance Enhancement
By Alissa Mayer, Certified Equine Hanna Somatic Educator


Equine Hanna Somatic Education® (EHS) is a gentle, non-invasive "bodywork" that resets the horse's resting muscle tone by re-connecting the neuro-pathways between the horse's brain, nervous system, and muscles in the rest of his body. EHS is a hands-on method of assisting the horse in recognizing any forgotten patterns of movement that were previously accessible to him. The results of an increased Mind-Body Integration range from pain relief to performance enhancement, giving the horse better fine motor control and overall relaxation. Even better, this stuff works for humans too!

Equine Hanna Somatic Educators work with the horse's cooperation, partners in a dance of movement to relax chronically contracted muscles and relieve the pain associated with them. Unconscious muscle contractions can be caused by stress, repetitive motion, trauma or injury, and can distort the natural balance of our bodies. Much of what we have been taught as "conformation" is actually POSTURE! With relaxed muscles, a horse’s (or human’s) posture can improve dramatically and almost instantaneously!

Equine Hanna Somatics® not only improves posture, EHS can relieve pain, stiffness and other symptoms commonly associated with aging.

EHS can be beneficial for any horse exhibiting Sensory-Motor Amnesia (SMA) aka chronically contracted muscles (like those stubborn ones in my lower back that tense up and refuse to let go when I have overworked my body). These overly tight muscles can block circulation and nerve impulses from flowing freely through the muscle tissue, resulting in a "numbed zone" that becomes inaccessible to the horse. Instead of feeling smooth and springy to the touch, as healthy muscle tissue should, this area can feel either very firm or soft and squishy. To the horse this muscle will feel and act like it is weakened or fatigued, or overreact to stimuli and trigger habitual behaviors, like pawing. Over time chronic contractions can lead to muscle atrophy and asymmetry – all part of Sensory Motor Amnesia.

SMA can:

Decrease performance effectiveness and shorten a career, decrease flexibility or suppleness, shorten stride, increase resistance to training, create the possibility of accidents, increase pain, restrict movement, increase stress/fear/anxiety, increase the effects of aging, and cause dissociation or disconnection (from Eleanor Criswell Hanna, Ed.D of the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training). Whew!

Thank goodness Equine Hanna Somatics® can help reverse some of these conditions.

EHS can help relax the neuromuscular system, increase the range of motion, roll back the clock on the aging process and even decrease the likelihood of injuries (E. Criswell Hanna, Ed.D), because a horse who is in her body is more aware of her movement and the environment. Relaxation, another valuable result of this bodywork, helps enhance the healing process, making EHS an ideal complement to any other treatments a horse is receiving.

What makes Equine Hanna Somatics® unique?

Unlike massage, chiropractics, acupressure/puncture, or most other bodywork modalities, which are applied TO the horse's body, EHS is a cooperative guided movement that works WITH the horse's own brain, enhancing the mind-body connection. The EHS educator makes hands-on suggestions, and the horse moves his own body by contracting and relaxing his muscles, very slowly. These purposeful movements originate in the voluntary motor cortex – the only part of the nervous system that can actively relax muscles. Once the horse feels the release that occurs with intentional muscle relaxation, he can do it again on his own because his neurons have been "rewired" and are now able to recall how to communicate with muscles previously affected by SMA (sensory-motor amnesia, remember?).

Horses love this attention and gentle work, licking, chewing, and relaxing into each session. Results from mild to mind-blowing are often observed after the very first session – horses often appear shinier, covered in dapples, with a smoother topline and increased freedom of movement during and immediately after the session. Riders report horses are more supple and responsive to the aids following EHS work. In addition, the owner learns how to perform simple EHS movements with his/her own horse, to continue the work and build an even stronger horse-human bond.

Private sessions with Alissa Mayer $85. Inquire about Clinics or travel possibilities at info@equiloha.com

For more information, visit www.Equiloha.com or find us on the Equine Hanna Somatics Facebook page.

Peace & Hoofbeats,

Alissa Mayer

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