SOUTHINGTON, Ohio —Jen Trudick grew up wanting to work with horses. A 4-H horse club participant, she had been around horses all her life.
She even started working for a veterinarian in 1997, while she was still in high school, and knew she was destined to work in the equine industry.
And, in 1998, she and her Quarter Horse mare, Dolly, were the 4-H state champions in reining and western riding.
“It’s a passion I can’t describe. There is just something about the appreciation they show. It just can’t be touched by anything,” Trudick said.
Then, in 2001, Dolly broke her leg in a pasture. The veterinarian recommended, what no horse owner wants to hear, Dolly would need to be euthanized.
Trudick knew she couldn’t give up. Her mare still had spirit.
“So many people would have given up, but I just couldn’t. It wasn’t time,” she said.
Every day, for 18 months, Trudick worked with her mare, exercising her and massaging her. She had no idea at the time that rehabilitation experience would become her life’s work.
After working with her mare, seeing firsthand how her mare could benefit from daily massages to her leg, Trudick realized there was a need for this kind of service because few therapists specialized in horses. Her hope was to stop the pain some horses were feeling and some of the behavior problems owners were facing.
Trudick started doing some research and discovered a program in California.
Then in 2003, she decided it was time, and in less than a month, Trudick completed a course that included hands-on work and classroom time. The course taught her about the anatomy of the horse and gave her the skills she needed to relax a horse and manipulate their bodies so muscle, tendon and even bones in the equine could benefit from the power of touch.
Now she is an accredited member of the American Association of Animal Body Workers, and is certified in equine specific body work and rehabilitation.
“I was given a gift. I know when they are in pain and I want to help them,” Trudick said.
Soon after getting her training, Equisense was born — Trudick’s equine rehabilitation business.
“This is my life and passion,” Trudick said.
Now Trudick travels across northeast Ohio and offers massage, including a full 82-point equine body massage, magnetic therapy, laser therapy, cold laser therapy, lameness evaluations, acupuncture and acupuncture laser therapy. In addition, Equisense will soon offer electric muscle stimulation.
The therapies can be combined to help horses recover from soft tissue injuries and muscle soreness.
The laser therapy often helps horses with bowed tendons, ligament injuries and arthritis. Trudick said she often uses it to help promote the healing of open wounds.
Trudick prides herself on uncovering what is bothering a horse and solving it.
She’s discovered that what some consider a problem horse is really a horse with a physiological issue and, when it is repaired, the horse can be trained into a willing mount.
For example, if a hunter or jumper is taking three strides to jump instead of four, the problem usually involves working with the muscles. Trudick works with the horse through massage therapy to improve its range of motion so that it obtains the correct number of strides.
And Trudick often finds an ill-fitting saddle at the root of trail horse problems. A horse develops soreness in its back because the saddle doesn’t fit as it should. She added the problem doesn’t always mean a new saddle is needed, but owners need to find a way to improve the fit.
Today, 25 years later, Dolly, the mare that started it all has full range of motion and no arthritis.
Meanwhile, Equisense continues to grow. Trudick has the ability to provide stalls for horses that require lay-up and intense rehabilitation. In addition, Trudick makes calls to farms in northeastern Ohio. She also plans to build her own rehabilitation barn at her home in Middlefield.