Ida Hammer, Debbie Davies Clinic

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Article & photos by Tom Brannon

Melanie Taylor’s Wildwood Farm in Germantown, Tenn. hosted another Ida Hammer Clinic on March 25-27, 2022, this time a 3-day joint class with Deb Davies on thetheme of “Decoding Hoof and Body Compensations.” Davies is an osteopathically trained rider, clinician, and practitioner. She teaches the horse-rider partnership holistically.

Davies began her presentation using Power Point diagrams to show the horse’s anatomy and physiological connections among the skeletal, muscular, and neurological systems and how they are all interconnected. She explained the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system and how they work, as well as the skeletal structure and spine and how the bones move in relation to each other.

After viewing the diagrams on the screen, Davies uses horses doing ground work on a lead to demonstrate movement, possible problems, and how the horse compensates for these problems. She utilized the color of one of the demo horses, a Palomino named Winslow, to visibly mark locations on his body, highlighting muscle movements.

She used another interesting method to help the clinic participants understand muscle compensation and how the rear of the horse feels when something is off in the front. The participants formed a conga line as if dancing at a party. The front person donned a clown shoe on one foot so that her feet were slightly off balance, similar to how a horse may be a little “off” in the front. The conga line turned left, went straight, and then turned right. Each person, starting in the back of the line, was asked to explain how they felt about the movement and what they did to compensate for the off balance. It was an eye opener for many!

Another of Davies’ bag of teaching tricks is a bag of real bones. She has an extensive collection of horse bones, which she uses to show how the bones interconnect in relative position to one another, and how one bone being slightly out of position or off angle can cause another bone to be off angle as well. In particular is the relationship between the sacrum and the pelvis. She used an 8-year-old off track Thoroughbred gelding named Sonic, suspending the demo pelvic bone just above the demo sacrum bone in the area where they would be on Sonic. The clinic participants could then visualize just where these bones are on a horse and what their proper positions are. During this part of the demonstration she explained the phenomena commonly known as “Hunter’s Bump,” where there is a visible bump or protrusion on the rear dorsal just above the croup. Hunter’s bump is common on many jumpers who are in high level competitions. She explained using the demo bones that this is a subluxation (tilting under) of the sacroiliac joint, which may involve injury to the ligaments securing the pelvis and the spine.

She also used Sonic to show how a horse may compensate for misalignment and old injuries. He was a good sport about it and actually seemed to enjoy the attention, as well as the chiropractic treatments that came with it.

In concluding, her charge to the clinic participants was to be observant of any subtle changes of movement in their horses and, when the problem is corrected, give the neurological system time to adjust. 

Find more information about Ida Hammer clinics at:

About Deborah Bowerman-Davies:  Debbie’s passion for the horse began in her childhood living in the UK. She volunteered at a Therapeutic Riding Academy, where she had earned an award for the most accomplished horsewoman and rider by the age of 13. She spent time competing in Pony Club events, earning her A rating. She spent her Junior Rider years successfully competing in 3-Day Events. She was a working student for Marie Stokes FBHS, where she competed in Dressage, Show Jumping, Side Saddle, and English Showmanship as part of her British Horse Society duties. She has also had the opportunity to work with Francois Mathy, Reiner Klimke, and Norman Dello Joio.

She worked with Peggy Cummings, owner and founder of Connected Riding. Peggy’s knowledge of the human and equine body, plus her exceptional way of translating concepts to a rider, helped Debbie understand how to change her body and find the posture that would assist her horses further.

Debbie graduated from Quantum Energetics School in 2008, and completed studies at the Equine Osteopathic School in 2012. Find more information about Davies at her website, Equine Self Expression:

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