Therapeutic Insight: The Myofascial Release Perspective—Animal Friends Part 2, MASSAGE MagazineYou may want to read Part I of this article. Treating horses has been exciting.

I quieted down and the instant I did, the most amazing thing happened. My awareness fell into this horse and I instantaneously “got” where the horse’s problem was. The moment I quieted down, everybody who was watching said, “He’s leaning into you.” We had made a connection.

The release was very similar to a human’s, except a much bigger version. This is why it’s helpful to learn on horses, because the release is so big you really can translate it easily back to a human experience. I then decided to do an energy technique. The trainer was holding the horse by the bit; I had somebody put their hands between the ears over the parietals, somebody else above the hoof, and I put my hands over the shoulder area and upper back. I closed my eyes and started to quiet down again. I started to feel this motion. I thought to myself, “That feels familiar,” and all of a sudden it hit me: This horse is unwinding. Here I have 1,200 pounds of horse coming at me, and I’m thinking, “Now what do I do?”

Then I hear the trainer say, “He’s falling asleep.” The horse’s eyes closed, his ears went down, his head started to rear back and his left forequarter went into hyperextension. Zap! He hit the position of injury in space, the still point, and at that moment, his eyes opened and became bright, his ears straightened up and we all felt a lightening bolt of energy go through his body. At the same time, his hoof thumped into the ground loudly and he just about threw us all off this body. It was such a powerful experience; unbelievable.

After we finished, I asked the trainer if he would take him out and run him again. He took him out and the horse ran a mile for the first time in his life. With only three months of training, he broke and shattered the record at Belmont Stakes Park, one of the most important racetracks in the New York area. Within six months from the time of injury, this horse had won more than $600,000!

Myofascial release has also been successful with dogs.

Years ago, I was in Jamaica during the week of Christmas. I had rented a beautiful villa with a maid and gardener. The maid had a couple of young puppies and one older dog, who was limping and couldn’t get around too well. He appeared frustrated because he wanted to play with the puppies, but they’d run off and jump up on this ledge and he couldn’t jump up there with them.

So one day, I was on the veranda reading. This old dog came over and sat down, eventually lying down next to me. I felt really sorry for him, so I slowly brought my hand down toward his body, and I could feel tremendous heat pouring off his hip. As I hit this hot spot off his body, he looked up. He felt me out there. I waited a bit, and eventually moved a little closer until he let me touch him. I also touched his head, and he started to spontaneously move and unwind. His tongue came out, his eyes rolled back in his head, he started to pant, and after a while he jumped up, ran off like a puppy and jumped up on the ledge that he could never make before. The rest of the time I was there, he was chasing the puppies and doing really well. The interesting thing about animals is that when they are done, they get up and move on.

Treating animals has been so rewarding. I will share some other stories about experiences I have had with cats, dogs and horses.

John Barnes, MASSAGE MagazineJohn F. Barnes, P.T., L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is an international lecturer, author and acknowledged expert in the area of myofascial release. He has instructed more than 50,000  therapists worldwide in his Myofascial Release approach, and he is the author of Myofascial Release: the Search for Excellence (Rehabilitation Services Inc., 1990) and Healing Ancient Wounds: the Renegade’s Wisdom (Myofascial Release Treatment Centers & Seminars, 2000). He is on the counsel of Advisors of the American Back Society; he is also on MASSAGE Magazine’s editorial advisory board and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association.  For more information, visit

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Part 2

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