Friday, August 25, 2017

Part 2: More Pulse Fun

I should begin by stating that the pulse system that's been used on Penn is a one of a kind system (I don’t want to share the actual company name on here because you know, privacy reasons for my fellow barn people). It is based on that company’s human pulse machine and has been modified to use on horses. It's currently being marketed to vets and equine chiropractors, but eventually might come to certified non-vet users. I have zero details about that besides they’re looking into legal reasons you’d have to be a vet to use it (but I am extremely interested). The system pictured in Part 1 is the certified user only version- the pulse head puts a lot of force out over a small area, which means you should have training to use it. Rest assured, it is not enough to actually hurt your horse! However, you would not want to use it on yourself.

Luckily, there is a lower intensity version in the works that will eventually be available for sale to regular people! My barn is basically beta testing it for its creators (I dropped the thing on day 1, excellent data there *facepalm*). We jokingly call it "The Phaser" because its actual name is “Mini-Phaser”, and of course there are many Star Trek jokes, “Set phasers to massage!” It is a hand held unit that uses pulses/massage vibes mixed with cold laser technology to treat muscle soreness. They also have a custom liniment (that they’ve specifically made to be USEF legal) that you can use to aid the phaser treatment (water works just fine too, but I’ve found it’s not slippery enough).

He's not drugged, I promise. He's just extremely relaxed post-massage session with the mini-phaser last Saturday.

I’ve been messing with the phaser for about a week now. I love it because Penn loves it. It sometimes takes horses a few minutes to adjust to the feeling, but horses usually take to it nicely. Penn took to it immediately when I first treated him last Thursday (8/17). To do a treatment:
  •  Find a location where the horse flinches away (I use the handle of my spray bottle and run it all over him). I’m looking for a book of pressure points to help identify exactly where to massage for maximum effect when I find a flinch point.
This book has an excellent diagram of pressure points and what parts of the horse they effect.
  • Spray the area (no bigger than your hand) with the custom liniment. I found dry hair pulls a bit on the phaser head since it is silicon and water just isn’t slick enough to make it comfortable in my hand.
  • Turn the mini-phaser on and gently rub it back and forth across the area for 5 minutes to start, but it can be longer as the horse adjusts to the mini-phaser. It should not feel like an upper body workout for you! I find myself wandering to a bigger area, which means he's sometimes still flinchy when I'm done with an area and then I have to do that spot again.

And that’s it. Treat as many areas as you want for as long as you want (starting with 5 minutes and working your way up in time). Ride immediately following or not, whatever you’d like.

There’s a phone app that goes with it since the mini-phaser has different pulse levels, except that’s still in beta test mode too and you need an Apple product to get the testing app… and I have a Droid. (I’m currently in the market for a used, working iPhone 6 or better- it needs to be capable of/have iOS 9 and have Bluetooth. If you have one you’d like to sell, hit me up please!).

Penn fell asleep in the cross ties on night one (a week ago Thursday), and I probably massaged him for an hour in various places on his back and hindquarters. His flinching was gone after treating, which was awesome! When the muscles are tight (aka the horse is putting weight evenly on all 4 feet), you can touch other parts of the horse, same side or not, and feel the pulses. In one place on Penn’s hindquarters you can feel the pulses in the stifle. Just super cool, and Penn loved it.

I rode two days later (last Saturday) and he was quite nice- relaxed and responsive. I ran through a mix of 1-3 and 2-3 movements with flying changes in my own test pattern, and he was game and relaxed for all of it. I’m testing this to use at shows, so I opted to treat him again after I rode, and then again Sunday morning directly before I rode (mock horse show environment).

Sleepy relaxed horse.

OMG guys, my Sunday horse was so supple and relaxed, but not overly so. He gave me 20 minutes of really super work: Floaty forward uphill trot, relaxed and bouncy canter. I rode the canter work from 2-3 (walk-medium canter, 3 loop serpentine, short diagonal simple change, repeat), except I replaced the simple changes with flying changes. All of the work was so relaxed and supple. The two flying changes were extremely relaxed and on the bit, and I’m pretty sure one was clean and the other might have been a hair late behind. He got praise and then we went to road walk and baby-sit a baby horse.

I rode again Monday, sans massage, and it was atrocious. First he couldn't bend right, then he couldn't bend left, then he wanted to trot at mach 12, then he wanted to buck in the canter and doing a simple 20m circle was a chore. Has someone gotten spoiled? I donno about that, but he gave me two days of solid work and was probably sore since it was two days of really good work. I also don't usually ride on Mondays because he generally works so hard Saturday and Sunday. Who knows, but they're all entitled to off days because they're not machines.

I've been focusing on specific points on him:

From the book,  Beating Muscle Injuries for Horses

  • 3: When I find myself having to resort to manually flexing Penn down (like in my lesson with MF), I know his neck is bothering him. I felt this last weekend bending right, so I flinch tested his neck on the right side at point 3. He promptly flinched away, so I dedicated about 7 minutes to treating it with the mini-phaser. I got a very interesting reaction: instead of melting into it like he normally does, he spent 2-3 minutes "kicking at flies" and having big body twitches. Then he suddenly relaxed and settled into it like he always does. I tested his neck after, no flinch response. I've been testing it every day since (7 days so far), no reaction.
  • 15/16: These are consistently flinchy spots. I can usually make the flinching go away, but it hasn't stayed away like #3. It's sometimes both, sometimes not, and they don't necessarily match right to left.
  • About 4" in front of 15: This is sometimes flinchy directly after riding in the tack. It's failing the flinch test less often now.
  • About 4-6" behind 13 (the lowest part of his back): This is sometimes flinchy after riding him bareback. It hasn't been very reactive since I first treated it last Thursday.
  • 12: I tried this one thinking it would help with his girthiness. I found out that his girthiness is NOT muscular soreness. It didn't react to the flinch test, and after treating it for 5 minutes, his bitey face was extreme. Sorry bud, I won't do it again. I had another look at it yesterday, and he's got hives and fly bites along his whole underline. They've spent more time outside as the weather has gotten better, so yesterday I sprayed his whole underline with listerine. I think that might be part of his problem, and I'll treat the inside of him again with Abler AbPrazole (which should arrive today).

So massage drunk.

They're doing a run of 10 mini-phasers in 4-6 weeks, and I'll buy one of those (not sure if it's part of the beta test though... I just know I'll be getting one of the 10). In the grand scheme of things you can buy to treat your horse (magnets, massage blankets, BOT stuff), I'd say it's on the upper-mid end of price. You could certainly spend a lot more, but there's many items that cost less. I haven't seen any that work as well though, and certainly none that Penn clearly enjoys as much as the mini-phaser. In a few months, they're looking at a run of 100 units.

I used the mini-phaser on my calves for about a minute each last Saturday (right on top of my clothes, no spray)- my legs were sore from walking down 16 flights of stairs for our evacuation drill at work 3 days before (I couldn't point my toes down without a lot of pain and it hadn't gotten better). It knocked out 95% of the pain immediately and my legs were back to normal within 24 hours. I like the mini-phaser too!

You know what Penn doesn't like? Hock boots. I got him the padded BOT ones. He lasted approximately 30 seconds Thursday night before wigging out kicking, got himself turned completely around in the cross ties, and pulled until his halter broke. He ran off to his stall trembling. So now I get to return the boots and buy a new everyday leather halter!

This is not a selling pitch, I've just had a lot of interest in what I've been doing to Penn: If you’re interested in this pulse system, or for more information on buying your own mini-phaser, or just more information in general, feel free to email me! I’m happy to share the company information with individuals, just not the WWW!


  1. This sounds super fascinating! Glad you found something that's working so well for Penn (and you)!

    1. I'm so excited about it! He moves so much looser with it.

  2. Very interesting!! Exciting to here more about the phaser!

    1. Yes! You'll get to see it in action when I bring it with me to champs ;-P

  3. Really interesting and I've been really curious about it as well since I've never heard of it before. Sounds like really amazing technology.

    1. It's a brand new technology from what I understand- mixing the pulses with cold laser. It is soooooo cool!

  4. Hey there - could you send me some info on the mini-phaser? My email is shaunatwentytwelve at gmail dot com :)