January 18, 2017
9:00 am

Now Comes the Horse Massager

Most among us have heard tell of the Horse Whisperer. Now comes Lori Hellenga -- the Horse Massager. That's an overly simplistic way of telling you that Lori, who is an Emergency Department Nurse at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph, is establishing her own stock in trade under the business banner of Northway Equine Sportsmassage.

Lori and her sister, Susan Pautz of Wisconsin, are crafting a joint venture utilizing the Wilson Meagher Method of Equine Sportsmassage, to ride to the rescue of horse owners and their amazing animals.

Lori tells me that, just like you, me, and all humans, horses get muscle soreness and tightness which inhibits their performance regardless of what discipline they are in and it is obviously uncomfortable. She says that watching horses, feeling how they move under the saddle, you can see that they have a problem that they can't tell you about. You have to observe the horse, pay attention to how they move, and then find help for them.

Northway Equine Sportsmassage hopes to help by learning each major muscle's function and the problems that may develop as a result of sore muscles to help relieve that soreness. She is also first to point out, however, that their techniques are never a replacement for a veterinarian, because infections, bone or joint problems are not in their scope of practice. 

Working in concert with Susan, Lori hopes to be able to offer services in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. Susan is also a practicing nurse. Lori herself started at Mercy Hospital 35 years ago.

According to research, the Wilson Meagher Method of Equine Sportsmassage created by JoAnn Wilson, has been scientifically proven to be beneficial for horses -- especially those competing at the highest levels. Wilson is currently the practitioner for the United States Eventing Team, and was in Rio this past summer with the team at the Olympics.

After Susan reached out to Wilson, who was planning her first ever class for peoplel with no previous experience as massage therapists for people, the sisters filled out applications and were accepted into the class last spring. As a result of their intensive training, they are now both certified practitioners in the Wilson Meagher Method. 

Lori tells me that her immediate goal is help local horse owners, and to get involved with local 4H groups to teach and demonstrate the massage techniques so they can better understand how their horses move and perform. She has already worked with horses at the Concord Ridge Equestrian Center in Royalton Township.

As a horse lover who has owned her own horse fro the past 34 years, Lori is eager to get her business up and running for the horse community in the region. She keeps her horse on her parents farm in Baroda where they, Dave & Anne Brockway, raised Morgan horses. Lori get her first horse from Dr. James Galles, an ER Physician from Coloma that she worked with, who raised Arabian horses.

Lori is being assisted in establishing Northway Equine Sportsmassage by her husband, retired State Police Trooper DeWayne Hellenga who is also a teacher. Interested horse owners and/or trainers are welcome to contact Lori at 269-921-7919 or by e-mail at lori@northwayequine.com. Her business website is under construction.

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