Image Copyright © 2007 Dino Fretterd.
“The Equine Body Work Specialist”
If you want to know what Equine Body Work Specialist Dino Fretterd, CEMT, does, just ask him. By the time he’s finished you’ll understand not only his passion for horses but his life’s mission to improve the horse’s quality of life. “Try and find someone who loves the horse more than me,” explains Dino. “I love everything about horses. People think I was born and raised with them. I wish I had been so blessed.” In fact, for 17 years Dino worked on people. “My specialty was muscular skeletal imbalances.”
It wasn’t until he saw a magazine about equine massage that “a light bulb came on and I figured if they are massaging horses, that’s something I can do. I didn’t need to learn about massage, I just needed to understand the horse’s anatomy.” And learn he did! Dino will tell you that if you could stand up a horse you would see that their anatomy and ours are almost identical. He’ll outline that a horse’s front leg can be compared to our arm and their knee to our wrist. The only thing they don’t have is a clavicle. Understanding their anatomy will help you recognize what kinds of aches and pains your horse might be enduring.
Transitioning From Humans To Horses
It took Dino a year to transition from humans to horses. His biggest kick start was a weeklong massage class with Pat Whalen-Shaw. Shortly afterward, by February of 1996, he was working on horses. Some think of Dino as a Massage Therapist but he is way more than that and he doesn’t just work on horses, he also focuses on educating people about their horses. When asked what we as riders, trainers, or horse lovers can do to help, Dino will respond, “Get educated with professionals that know what they are talking about so that when the dentist or the shoer finishes you know they’ve done a good job.” Dino will tell you how time and time again someone sees their horse is not moving properly “and they figure it is a body thing and then I look at the mouth or feet and notice other problems.” Dino’s advice is to first solve those other problems. Sometimes that problem could be as simple as using a saddle that fits the horse better.
Working On Horses To Get To The Real Problem
Dino’s sessions begin with looking “for the imbalances. If there is an imbalance you have to address the whole horse.” He’ll explain that the neck has one muscle that does two things. “It allows the horse to laterally flex so he can do such things as bite his side to get a fly as well as engage the shoulder so it can come forward, which he can’t do if that shoulder is flexed.” If you expand upon that theory you’ll start to understand how a flexed neck at the wrong time would mean poor engagement of the shoulder, which would affect his jumping and more. Yet, this is only one of many examples. Dino further believes that if there are problems with the teeth, those have to be addressed first. “The nerves from your teeth go to specific muscles and organs of your body,” says Dino. He then looks at their feet. “Most of my work is done when I am on the ground. I am looking for symmetry.” If the symmetry is not there that is sending a message.” Dino explains that this is also something any horse person can do. Look for the subtle signs; an eye closing, a horse pulling his head away or the tail swinging only to one side. “If you know how to ask they certainly know how to tell you. There are a lot of assessing tools that people can use to determine where the imbalance is. “The feet give me an understanding of what muscles are imbalanced. You simply have to understand how to look at the horse. The feet don’t lie - foot growth is based on weight displacement.”
Nowadays Dino spends a lot of time training and educating people through a series of clinics and videos. His clinics are with four people: a dentist, a shoer, a holistic veterinarian, and himself. They will work on horses to show the before and after and to make those present aware of how important it is to understand and hear what the horse is telling them. Yet it is also what his students tell him that gives him the most joy. It could be the 5’2” 105 pound female who will talk about the 17 hand horse who “after she worked on him the movement was unbelievable.” It might be the racehorse who at the ¾ pole was 22 lengths behind and then when the rider opened him up he finished third. “I get lots of phone calls,” comments Dino. “People call because they are thrilled to death. If a horse goes out and wins his class it’s about the fact that I made the horse feel better. I don’t do this for the people; I do this for the horse. “I am not interested in a temporary cure. The horse can’t tell you that it hurts. He wants me to tell you the truth and I am not going to let a horse suffer because I am worried about hurting someone’s feelings. My goal is to try and help as many horses as I can.” For more information about Dino and his clinics you can visit his web site at www.leisurehour.com