Getting Results with Horse Theraphy and Terri Kissack
- January 18, 2017
- Wendy Greenough
I recently caught up with a talented friend of mine, for whom I have the utmost respect. Terri Kissack has amazed me for years with her talent and gift to read a horse’s soundness. I hope as many people as possible can benefit from the Terri’s work. You will see a difference in your horse!
About Terri Kissack:
I was born in a family of 5 kids and raised on a ranch 10 miles from Faith, SD. We had a cow/calf operation and my dad, Darrel Griffith, was a professional horse trainer. I grew up riding horses and rodeoing. I rodeoed in all the events, winning State High School All Around and National High School Cattle Cutting Titles along the way. My love has always been horses. I am married to my husband of 28 years, Phil. We live in the beautiful Black Hills of SD. We have three kids who all currently live in Texas, Jesse, Billie and Dane.
WG: How Did You Get Started?
TK: I remember watching a man years ago who had been invited to my friends barn to work on some horses. As I watched him, with much skepticism, I may add, I started to become amazed at the results he was getting with the horses. I then followed up with some of these horses to see if what he had done really worked. I was hooked. His name is Bill Hackett from Wyoming. I asked if he would let me spend some time with him and learn how he was helping these horses. I spent about 6 years working on horses with Bills tutelage and have now been working on my own for around 4 years. I have clientele in several states and have met some amazing people along the way. When someone cares enough for their animal to bring to me to get worked on, that says something about the quality of a person they are.
WG: How can you know a horse needs treatment?
TK: I get asked how to know if my horse needs help. First of all, the owner/rider knows their horse better than anyone else so if he has been performing at a certain level, whether ranchwork or arena work and he starts moving differently or refusing a task then they are telling you something. Refusing to go in the gate, not picking up a lead they once picked up effortlessly, moving up and down hills different than before, having trouble backing out of a trailer all of a sudden, feeling rough in his lope where he once rode smoothly. Of course there is the obvious laying ears back or biting when saddled, tail swishing or obvious limp. These are all signs he is hurting somewhere.
Now the magic question is where and why? How many times have we sat on our horses following a sub par practice session and thought, do I change training techniques, change bits, maybe it’s me or is he hurting somewhere. Horses are very simple animals really. They pretty much tell you either in their demeanor or by just doing their job a little different to get around the pain. When the vertebrae are in their proper place, the nerves can work appropriately and then the muscle and so on. Different disciplines put different stressors on our animals, like in a heading horse, it isn’t uncommon to have withers be the source of pain as they take repeated torque as they log a steer off on his right side. A rope horse as they power out of a box or barrel horse as they set hard to rate for a barrel will sometimes need help in the SI and lumbar area. Horses can often do much to realign their own bodies by rolling and shaking, but if they don’t get the help they need in time you can see nerves shutting down (lose feeling in that area) , muscle atrophy, and a multitude of other things. Sometimes it takes a team effort to get your horse back on the right track. As I work on one I may find an underlying problem that has to be addressed such as a hock, stifle, front foot soreness, etc. We are blessed in this area to have several great veterinarians and farriers to work with and a well rounded team effort can usually get your horse back to performing.
WG: How Often Do Horses Need Treatment?
TK: When asked how often they will need a treatment, the horse will usually tell us. Often times they have just gotten themselves in a pickle somehow and it is one treatment. Other times depending on severity, time elapsed since the injury, or even horses conformation, they will need seen more than once. Horses are resilient and will usually tell you when they feel good and when they don’t.
WG: What is Your Greatest Strength?
TK: I have been asked what my greatest strength is when working with horses, and I feel like most importantly you need to be able to read the horse. As domesticated as we get our horses they still are prey animals. Which means if they feel threatened, they will save themselves by getting away and if they can’t, they will fight back to protect themselves. Many times horses are hurting when they come to me and for me to just start poking and prodding as if they were a machine, doesn’t work. Once I get their trust and they start to feel relief, they will get more than cooperative. I once worked on an 8 year old green broke gelding on top of a windy hill with a storm rolling in. This horse was extremely watchy and had his tail tucked between his legs bracing for the storm. We had about 20 minutes until the storm hit and as I was working I went to reach for his front foot and noticed he needed his feet trimmed pretty badly. I asked the gentleman how he was about his feet and he said he didn’t know, he had never had them picked up!! So moving slowly and in a non threatening way, I got his feet picked up and was able to get my work done.
This is a great example of the relationship Terri builds with the horses she works with! This is another example of her tremendous ability to read a horse.
“I feel like when we need our horses to do their job, and when they give so much of themselves to us, it only makes sense to have them feeling the best they can feel.”
Terri purchased an Equi Vibe Machine in June of 2016 to add to her business and it has been an incredible addition. Look for my next interview with Terri as we share details about the EQUI VIBE and many success stories.
For questions or to schedule an appointment contact Terri Kissack at Kissack Equine in Spearfish, SD 605-645-7235.
Until next time, enjoy your ride!
About Wendy Greenough
Horses are the cornerstone of my family, occupation, and lifestyle! I am fortunate to be the daughter of renowned horseman, Tom Wagoner, who is also the founder of Feet First Horsemanship. Tom has always been my main influence while training horses, and I'm...