In the Spotlight
(Reprinted from Equinology Spring 2007 Newsletter)
Diana Thompson is the owner of Hands-On Horse Care® in Santa Rosa, California. in 2007, she was the instructor for Equinology’s Equine Acupressure Foundation Course (EQ 803A), Bach Flowers for Horses and Dogs (EQ 1700), and the Equine Behavior, Neuromuscular Re-Education and Horse Handling for the EBW in Australia and the UK (EQ 1500A and EQ1500E).
Diana has professionally worked in the equine body work field for over 30 years. Her book Acupressure Point Charts for Horses, is available to order now. The 272-page text includes over 400 photos and 100 anatomical drawings detailing the location and uses of 128 equine acupressure points.
Q: How would you describe your work?
What I do is somewhat difficult to describe as it encompasses many things. I have an extensive horse training background as well as 30 years of studying and practicing equine body work. My strong suit is evaluating a horse and being able to see what that horse’s needs are both the physical and emotional realms. I am personally very visual so that helps in equine gait analysis and movement assessment. I am also very emotional and pretty empathic so I tune into emotional information very quickly. Combine these personal traits with years of study and most of the time I can see and know what methods would help a horse and how to get started.
The wellness program I design for a horse might include massage, ground exercises for movement retraining, acupressure, Bach flower essences, or Chinese herbs. I focus on teaching the horse owner or trainer methods they can use with the horse on a regular basis.
Depending on the issues, I might send the horse back to his own veterinary practitioner for further diagnostic work. I also refer horses to an equine chiropractor, a veterinary acupuncturist, an equine dentist or to an expert farrier for shoeing issues. I often evaluate the horse’s saddles and, at times, I custom make foam pads to improve the saddle fit.
Q: Who was the greatest influence in regards to your current practice?
For the past twenty years I have been studying classical Chinese medicine with Bill Fannin and Sean Fannin of Traditional Health Arts in Petaluma. I worked with Bill and Sean on my own health issues following a debilitating car accident. Then, they invited me to be a private student to study in-depth TCM theory and point application. Currently, I consult with Sean on various horses and dogs both in terms of the classical acupressure approach and the use of herbs. Sean has also helped me extensively as a source for the textbook I’m writing on equine acupressure. I’m very fortunate to have been able to study with such high quality professionals. It’s been an investment of time and money that has given me an amazing foundation of knowledge I use every day.
Q: What would you describe as your largest obstacle?
Being self-employed is both a wonderful thing and a difficult thing as you have to take care of everything from working with the animals to accounting, promotional details, clinic organizing, etc. I’m very happy and intuitive working out with the horses and dogs and I love to teach. I get pretty frustrated in the office doing paper work.
Q: What type of cases do you see most?
I work for horse owners who really like their horses. Most of them are riding for pleasure. If they do complete in one of the equine events this type of owner puts the horse’s needs first regardless of their competitive goals. I work with horses with odd lameness or performance issues, those with odd health problems that do not respond to mainstream veterinary care such as allergies or chronic muscle problems, and horses with fear and other behavior problems. I also work with people who want their horse to stay healthy. I teach horse owners how to use acupressure, massage and movement methods to prevent problems and improve performance.
Q: What was your most rewarding case?
I’ve helped with a number of life-saving incidents that make you feel terrific. More frequently, however, I spend time guiding horse owners in touching their horses for less dramatic reasons. I’m deeply moved, sometimes to tears, when both horse and human reach that very quiet special place where healing occurs. When I see the owner and the horse connect on this level, what I call the spirit level, I know that most of the time we’ll be able to clear up the horse’s physical or behavioral issues.
Q: What was your most disturbing case?
I get very frustrated when I’m called out to help a horse and the owner is only focused on their competitive goal. This type of owner just wants the horse’s body fixed like a car at the mechanic. They aren’t interested in changing training routines that may be harming the animal. They just want the performance or behavior to get better so they can keep drilling the horse the same old way. Typically, these owners aren’t interested in touching their horses and doing the follow-up work I require. Most of the time I refer them on to someone else or they drop out. In these situations I feel bad for the horse because he or she is not getting the care she needs.
Q: Is your work accepted among other professionals and are you referred by other professionals?
I have close working relationships with a number of other professionals. We communicate with each other and help the horses in many different ways.
Q: Where do your interests lie as far as future studies and modalities?
I’ll continue my study of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I am amazed at what horse owners can do with just knowing how to use 10 or 15 acupressure points. My new book details the locations of 128 points for horses. It contains hundreds of topnotch photos of the points on real horses as well as anatomical charts and descriptions. Dr. Kerry Ridgway has helped me develop what we call finding tips. These are easy, accurate ways to find the little nooks and hollows where the points are located. It can be ordered from my website.