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The Rolf Institute
5055 Chaparral Ct., Ste. 103.
Boulder, CO 80301
ph. 800.530.8875 (toll-free)
fax 303.449.5978


Equine Rolfing® And Massage Have Emerged From The Periphery Of The Veterinary Health Care System To Play An Increasingly Important Role In Equine Racing and Dressage Competition

"Many recurring performance problems in horses (as well as riders) can be difficult to understand and even harder to treat through conventional methods of training or health care. What may at first appear to be a problem of stride length or impulsion can often be traced to chronic tensions in the soft, connective tissue that holds bones and muscles together. A therapeutic method called Rolfing can release these habitual tensions and free both horse and rider for higher performance." --Trail Blazer, May ‘96

Boulder, CO ..."Gaining a 300th of a second in a race, can mean the difference between winning and losing," says Jim Pascucci, an engineer turned Rolfer from Colorado, who's an expert in the equine Rolfing® approach. "An increasing number of dressage and race horse owners, who are looking for the competitive advantage, are investing in equine Rolfing®, an original and scientifically based system of bodywork."

Pascucci is presently Rolfing a horse named Gershwin, the 1995 British National Champion for Dressage and ‘97 Intermediar II and Grand Prix Champion in the USDF Region 5 Championships. Gershwin, an Olympic caliber horse, one of the top horses in the U.S., is training for the U.S. Equestrian team. Gershwin is owned by Jennifer Oldham, former assistant to Amanda Sutton, Great Britain's Official International Team Physiotherapist.

Why do some people choose Rolfing over traditional veterinary medicine? A critical mass of recent surveys and studies have documented that consumers have come to recognize that traditional medicine can't answer all of their health care needs. Equine Rolfing and massage have emerged from the periphery of the health care system and are playing an increasingly important role in the equine health care market.

"Part of the family of non-invasive therapies that have gained popularity as alternatives to traditional medicine--chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, and homeopathy -- Rolfing (structural integration) is a system of hands on manipulation that sculpts the body into proper alignment and balance to allow it to move more freely and naturally."--N. Pet Magazine 5/96

"The Internet's data bank of resources target the latest advances in equine health care." says Pascucci. "I surf the Internet and network on the Web with other horse owners at Web sites like holistic horse.com. and holistic vet. medicine. I also belong to list servers like, "ridecamp for endurance riders" and surf Internet newsgroups like "endurance racing horses." Equine publications, like Equis and The Horse are also on the Web.

Horses are animals of movement. Like Pascucci, Jennifer Oldham agrees that the rider's movements are as important as the horse's in equine competition. They tune and influence the horse's performance. Oldham chose to have Rolfing structural integration for both she and her horse. She says the Rolfing improved her alignment and flexibility as a rider.

An increasing number of the horses that Jim sees are the touchy, difficult types. "They are in physical pain. This causes tension in the fascia. I release the fascial tension which can relieve their pain so they can perform more comfortably," he says.

For example: A dressage trainer who had a feisty, dangerous filly that she was planning to sell, asked Pascucci to Rolf her horse. The next time Jim visited he noticed that the filly hadn't been sold, so he asked about it. The owner said that her horse had undergone a complete change since the Rolfing session. She asked Jim to do more Rolfing on the horse. Later, she took the filly to a Sports Horse Clinic where mares and stallions are rated for breeding. The judges gave the filly the highest rating at the event. One judge, Hilda Gurney, the only U.S. person to ever win an Olympic dressage medal, told the owner that she would be proud to have the filly on her farm. Gurney said that the filly moved with the grace of a cat. The owner proudly reported that the horse's success was due to the equine Rolfing bodywork.------------------------------------------------------------------

Equine Rolfing®

Rolfing, popular with humans and animals, works with the fascia, or connective tissue of the body. All the muscles in the body are wrapped in fascia, the soft tissue that positions everything in our structure. Rolfers manipulate and stretch the fascia tissue to restructure and balance the body.

An easy way to describe the difference between Rolfing, massage, and chiropractic is that Rolfers work with the fascia tissue, massage therapists work with muscles and chiropractors work with bone alignment.

In humans, Rolfing improves posture and impaired mobility of the joints; reduces stress, and trauma; and brings relief to specific problem areas (such as chronic neck/back pain, and repetitive stress injuries). In horses, Rolfing significantly improves movement and performance, speeds up injury recovery and offers pain relief.

"Rolfing is simply not a massage, it actually changes the structure of the body by helping it return to its natural shape and alignment. In the Rolfing model the body is composed of tensional (soft tissue) and compressional (boney) components, similar to a geodesic dome. It is the tensional members, the soft tissue that are adjusted to illicit a change, like a tent is aligned through adjustment of its guide ropes," says Certified Advanced Rolfer, Jim Pascucci. "The equine Rolfer observes the horses movement to determine the problem areas, checks which way the fascia goes and follows it along. The horse naturally moves and unwinds with the bodywork."

Rolfing complements other types of health care. "(Equine Rolfing) is a useful treatment in conjunction with all of the other things we do for our horses -- movement training and proper vet care," says Janet Smith. (N. Pet Magazine 5/96)