Farm Horizons, February 2015

Equine Touch instructor works on building a sound relationship between horse and owner

By Kristen Miller

Some might call Colette Bolster a horse whisperer, taking a holistic approach to training and rehabilitating a horse.

However, Bolster, owner of KCB Equine Center, south of Dassel, calls herself a horse advocate, which she says all horse owners should be.

If not the owner, who will advocate for the horse?, Bolster questioned.

Bolster has been riding since her early youth, and trained her first horse when she was 12. She believes the horse’s needs come first. This includes its physical, emotional, and mental needs, in addition to the horse’s basic needs.

“It’s all about the horse to me,” said Bolster, who jokes that she “came out of the womb loving horses.”

Bolster is also an Equine Touch practitioner and instructor, with her own training facility where she works with the horse and trainer to identify the source of a problem and provide a longterm solution.

To do this, Bolster said she looks at a horse’s condition “wholistically,” meaning the whole body. “To me, there’s no other way,” she said.

Bolster took her first class in Equine Touch in 2003, after taking several different clinics and learning what worked best for a horse long term.

According to the official website, Equine Touch is a “non-diagnostic, non-invasive Equine Bodywork system which is an holistic soft tissue address, effecting mostly connective tissue - muscles and tendons, joint capsules and ligaments using a very specific move.”

Bolster found that long-term solutions came when there was a strong relationship between the horse and the leader.

“My mission is to build a better connection between horse and human that makes the horse’s life better, and in turn, should help the human enjoy the horse more,” Bolster said. “I want to help people see that having a horse is a relationship, not the same as owning a 4-wheeler or motorcycle, for example.”

Bolster explained that most “bad behavior” in horses is brought on by a result of what is done to them by people. “Working with both the horse and rider is pretty critical to a successful outcome,” she said.

“I can get on a horse and sometimes get a change of behavior in a matter of minutes, but the owner gets back on and the same old problems show up,” Bolster said. She added that the number of sessions it takes to correct an issue is dependent on the owner’s acceptance of learning what that horse needs.

“Many people want ‘that darn horse fixed,’ but the horse is not the problem,” Bolster commented.

There are many reasons why a horse isn’t taking directions or may be acting out, Bolster said, and typically, it’s something physical with the horse.

Oftentimes, it’s due to an injury unbeknownst to the owner, or poor-fitting equipment, she noted.

The Equine Touch has been coined by its founder, the late Jock Ruddock, as using the Vibromuscular Harmonization Technique (VHT).

Just as it can be used on horses and other animals, such as dogs, VHT can also be used on humans.

Bolster learned the VHT in the Czech Republic, where the technique was first being taught.

Bolster described VHT as waking the body up so that it can heal properly.

“Our bodies are meant to heal themselves,” she said. However, an injury can shut down that process or pose problems in other areas of the body that have been compensating.

When it comes to the proper treatment of a horse, Bolster takes a page from the books of Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance.

“[Dorrance and Hunt] are the grandfathers of working with the horses, rather than against them,” Bolster said.

“The horse needs to come first,” she said, adding that it goes beyond the horse’s basic needs.

For example, just looking at a particular horse’s back, Bolster said she could see there were saddle issues.

After seeing the owner ride the horse and the horse’s reaction, Bolster could see that back pain from pinching of the saddle was affecting the horse.

“I am trying to get the rider to feel what is going on with the horse, and help (the horse) understand clearly what’s being asked,” Bolster said.

“I focus on getting the horse ready to do what it is I want them to do, as opposed to just work on what I want them to do. When a horse is properly prepared, physically and mentally, to do the job at hand, it can be almost effortless to get done,” she noted.

Bolster also holds clinics for people to learn the Equine Touch so they can work with their own horses when an issue arises.

As an Equine Instructor, Bolster clarified that she doesn’t provide “therapy” sessions or “diagnose” health issues in a horse, and owners still need to seek out their veterinarian for care.

For more information on the Equine Touch, visit http://theequinetouch.com.

For more information on Bolster and her training, visit http://kcbequine.com or call (320) 583-3703.

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