A LIFELONG love of horses has finally led Lee Ellison to a career in helping the animals.
The shiatsu practitioner has recently moved to the Borders from East Lothian to work with all types of horses, from old ponies to high-performance event horses.
Lee, of Primside Cottages, Yetholm, said: “I love it, the horses love it, it’s a win-win situation.”
The therapy is thousands of years old and is similar to acupuncture but without needles. The practitioner uses pressure from their fingers, thumbs, palms, feet and elbows to gently interact with the horse’s chi (energy), doing gentle stretches and rotations with the aim of balancing the body. The techniques improve blood and lymph circulation, relieve tension in soft tissues and organs, and boost the immune system.
“I have always loved horses. I pestered my mum from when I could speak because I wanted to ride and I was about three or four when I first started,” said the self-taught horse rider.
“When I was 11 my mum got a horse of her own, it was a family effort and since then I’ve always been around them. From 11 to 17 I rode seven days a week from two to five hours a day – I was just addicted!”
But with university and different jobs, it wasn’t until she was 28 she got her own horse.
“My first horse wasn’t a first horse! I ended up getting one that didn’t tick any of my boxes but when I saw her I fell in love.”
She bought a young 16.3hh Westphalian Warmblood chestnut mare.
Originally from Essex, Lee has been in Scotland for 20 years, gaining a degree in textile and fashion design management at Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels before doing a variety of jobs, including being a quality control scientist at Pentland Science Park.
“I did a whole host of things before I discovered equine shiatsu. I had a horse by that stage and I wanted to do something to give back to her and other horses. Initially, I just wanted to learn it to benefit my own horse.”
Lee trained with Jill Blake at the School of Equine Shiatsu in west Sussex from 2007-2009 and the course required her to work on lots of horses.
“I have done many different things but when I started the shiatsu course I knew that was it. It’s wonderful, what you are doing is great for people and horses, I love it, the horses love it, it’s a win-win situation – I couldn’t encourage enough people to do it. It helps the riders and their horses.”
The 35-year-old works in conjunction with vets and says her efforts can be beneficial with health issues, help the horse recover from injuries, prevent injury, help with relaxation, general wellbeing and increase flexibility, strength and structural posture.
“There’s a whole host of things it can help with,” said Lee.
“Horses are completely different. Some of them can have pretty much instant reactions, with others it might take a few days before the owners see improvements.”
Lee also helps the riders with a simple bladder meridian treatment which helps their back, neck and shoulders.
“It improves their connection with their horses, ” she said.
She has worked in East Lothian and in north Lanarkshire on eventers, hunters, show ponies, riding school ponies, Shire horses and many others.
The treatment helps horses on an emotional level, as well as physical.
“A client had loaned out her horse to someone she knew well and trusted, but when she came back the horse was a wreck. The girl had been scared of her and wouldn’t go near her. The horse had lost confidence, she thought she had been abandoned, there was no love going on but we got her back to her old self. There were no physical problems, it was really just an emotional upset.”
For more information speak to Lee on 07973 168052 or 01573 420572.