BODYWRAP BASICS: THE FIGURE-8 WRAP
Have you seen pictures of the TTEAM bodywrap on a horse, but weren't quite sure how to put one on your own horse? Here is a step-by-step tutorial showing one way to apply the basic figure-eight version of the bodywrap. All you'll need for most horses is two regular polo wraps.
The first and smaller half of the figure-eight bodywrap helps encourage the horse to lift the base of his neck, putting gentle-but-effective input to the muscles that help to lighten the forehand and allow the neck to telescope out. This helps the horse experiment with balance and freedom of movement to find his most biomechanically efficient head and neck carriage.
Wrap the first polo wrap around the horse's neck so it sits where the neck and shoulder meet. Cross the two ends of the wrap and twist them in the start of a simple square knot (left over right, right over left), but then make a second twist in that left-over-right loop. Finish the knot by crossing the right end of the wrap and twisting it through to finish the knot. I find the extra twist keeps the knot from slipping and inadvertently tightening. Adjust your knot so the loop around the horse's neck is snug. You can place the knot at the front edge of the withers, the back edge of the withers or anywhere in between. Experimentation will show you which variation works best to lighten and free up your horse's forehand.
MORE WAYS TO ENCOURAGE SELF-CARRIAGE WITH THE BODYWRAP
As a bodyworker, I love the TTEAM-inspired bodywrap because it brings awareness of the horse to two muscle groups needed for self-carriage – the base of the neck and the hindquarters. As a trainer and rehabber, I love that it is gentle and non-threatening, which means horses work in the bodywrap in a thinking state instead of a reacting state. That helps them think more clearly and learn to make better choices about their posture, balance and movement. And both sides of my professional persona love how adaptable the bodywrap is, allowing me to quickly and easily devise different set-ups to address different issues. Following are some examples:
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
DRESSAGE SHOULD NOT BE A BLOOD SPORT
The same group of people who petitioned the FEI in 2010 to rule against Rollkur are collecting "signatures" on an online petition against a proposed rule change that would make it okay for a horse to show with "minor" injuries.
The so-called "Blood Rule," which will be considered at the FEI's general assembly next month, would in some cases allow a horse with blood on his body to compete. And, by "on his body" the articles on the subject seem mostly to mean in and on his mouth.
The rule, as proposed by the FEI's Dressage Committee, would at some high-level competitions allow a veterinarian to examine the horse and declare the bleeding stopped, leaving the horse free to compete instead of being immediately disqualified.
Would the result be that riders would be free to bloody up their horses' mouths in the schooling ring as long as they quit in time for the blood to clot before their ride times? Or would the new rule simply clarify what should happen in case of an accident such as a horse biting its tongue? (Note the change is only proposed to be in effect for FEI's "top-level" events – championships, finals and the upcoming London Olympics.)
It seems to me this is an area that would benefit from more discussion and more clarity. How can injury from abusive training techniques be discouraged while riders whose horses suffer an accidental injury are not deprived of their chance to compete? I signed the petition against the proposed rule in hopes more attention will be given to drafting a clear, complete and humane solution benefiting all involved.
Here are a few links so you can read both sides of the issue:
Blood, sweat and tears: reflections on the World Equestrian Games
Support for proposed "blood" rules in international dressage
Xenophon Society Appeals to the German Equestrian Federation on Blood Rule
Horse “Blood” Proposal Sent to all National Federations, USA to Lead Fight Against Rule