Last year in August I attended the weekend seminar for the "Masterson Method" in Bad Sachsa (see report). I was so enthusiastic - not only about the method, but also about the systematic structure of the workshop - that I registered for the 5-day advanced course as soon as the dates for 2020 were announced. Course instructors were Walter Saxe and Silvia Hamm, supported by students who are currently on their way to becoming certified Masterson Practitioner. I didn't really know what to expect, I just wanted to keep going and continue learning, because I saw that horses reacted very well to the basic techniques, but I felt that I was missing more advanced possibilities. Here is a brief summary of what to expect from someone who wants to continue. Due to the professional approach, the places and types of horses may differ, but not the techniques shown.
On the first day we were guests at the "Kampagnenschule Löwenzahn" in Meerbusch. Their ponies and also some big horses are living in groups. I thought it was an ideal place to start learning with these well-behaving horses. On the timetable there was a repetition of the techniques for the front part of the horse from the WE course, but the focus was not just on pure refreshing, but we learned to become much softer and more precise. Then I noticed that I was still working with too much pressure in the past. In addition we learned some new techniques. We worked, as in the WE course, in pairs on a horse/pony.
School horse Isy enjoys our treatment
On the second day we were again at the Kampagnenschule Löwenzahn, this time we repeated the techniques for the back and the hind end and learned several new techniques for this part of the horse. In the afternoon Walter Saxe took his "Pony Boney" out of the car and by means of the skeleton we were shown the key parts of the horse's body and where the individual techniques start and work. I found this very interesting and enlightening, because it is something else to see the neck or sacroiliac joint on a two-dimensional picture in a book or just "in real". At the end of the 2nd day, we had learned all the new techniques of the 5-day seminar. It became clear to me that Masterson is not just a relaxation method, as one might think after the WE seminar, but that one now has various tools in one's hands with which one is able to relieve or even eliminate the horse's limitations.
Brogg, a Bosnian mountain horse
Walter Saxe with "Boney the Pony"
On the third day we met at a riding stable in Ratingen. The horses there were kindly provided to us by private owners. Something completely new awaited us that day: the evaluation techniques on the upper part of the horse's body. With these techniques you can determine whether a horse has acute discomfort or even pain in key areas. In addition, it was explained how to recognise restrictions, i.e. limitations in the horse and the difference to acute pain, what it means for the horse and how to deal with it as a therapist or what to expect at the end of a treatment. Afterwards we practised the evaluation techniques in groups of three. Then Walter Saxe showed us a complete evaluation plus treatment of a horse. After lunch, things got serious: everyone had an own horse to evaluate and then treat. It was, so to speak, a glimpse of how it would be later: alone in a box, with no one to hold your papers, reminding you of forgotten techniques, etc. Of course we were not really alone, but we always got support and help from the instructors and the assistants. Time flew by and I was surprised that 3 hours had passed when I was done with the treatment of Karl, a former jumping horse. A nice experience was that Karl yawned heartily at the end.
Demonstration of the treatment of a horse (including interested audience)
Karl, a former jumping horse
This day was the most exhausting for me, both emotionally and concerning the working conditions and the horse. We were at a horse shelter of the Tierschutz und Umwelt e.V. in Cologne. This is where horses and ponies that were given away, found or confiscated live. They all carry their parcels with injuries, psychological or physical. First we learned the evaluation techniques for the horse's legs, i.e. to determine if and where there is acute pain. Funnily enough, the demonstration objects and training horses were Tinkers. Then Walter Saxe and Silvia Hamm demonstrated to "April", a former racehorse, how to approach horses that don't expect anything good from people, which techniques to start with and how to continue. It was touching to see how April, who had withdrawn completely into her own little world, slowly opened up and then looked at us with an awake gaze. After the treatment she trotted proudly across the meadow. In the afternoon everyone had their own horse or pony again. The chestnut mare I had to work with stood on an uneven meadow and was quickly distracted by external influences such as restlessness from other horses or music in the background. This is where the first technique, the "bladder meridian" came to my aid, the mare calmed down again, finally got involved in the treatment and in the end showed chewing and some yawning.
Horse shelter of the Tierschutz und Umwelt e.V. in Cologne
Evaluation of limbs under difficult conditions
April, the former racing horse
On the last day we met in Kaarst at the Peter Schmitz riding stable. Also here private owners had kindly put their horses at our disposal. This time there were always two people working on one horse, in the morning a Rhinelander mare "Prinzi", who did a wonderful job and was very patient with us when we were once again unsure, for example which hand to put in which place. In the afternoon we had something smaller, "Basti", a 23 year old pony. He also worked very well with us and rewarded us with intense yawning. After the exhausting fourth day, this last day was again a positive confirmation. The circle closed when the owner of Princess, the Rhineland mare, told us that she had learned to ride at the riding school Löwenzahn and also knew the pony Isy, which we had first of all. At the end of the course, by the way, the first feedback was already coming in: the owner of the riding school Löwenzahn noticed a positive change the very next day in the mobility and rideability of the horses we had worked with.
Princess, a Rhinelander mare
The 23 year old pony Basti
I had started with Masterson Method in spring 2019 by the book, but realised that I could not progress with certain techniques on my own and therefore took part in the weekend course in Bad Sachsa in August 2019. For one year I practised mainly on my own horse, he almost always stood relaxed in his place and enjoyed the treatment, but I noticed that certain muscle areas were still stuck and he had limitations in his range of movement. Only with the techniques from the weekend I didn't get any further. After these 5 days I think that I now have a good basis to really help my horse, firstly because I have learned to be much lighter and more precise, and secondly because my toolbox of techniques has grown considerably. These 5 days were exhausting but also wonderful. I got to know great and interesting people. Many thanks to Walter Saxe, Silvia Hamm and the students, who helped us and never got tired of answering our questions, helped us when we got stuck and showed us difficult techniques again and again.
By the way, we learned not only new techniques of the Masterson Method, but also cultural things: for example, if you want to perplex a waiter in a corner pub in Cologne, you should simply order a black tea (or two).