Sal Salvetti is a familiar face on the Florida Dressage Circuit, as well as at major competitions like Devon and Gladstone. Sal’s clients include many of the top dressage riders and horses in the country. Trained in both human and equine massage therapy, Sal has in association with Mike Scott (www.equinemmt.com) participated in anatomy labs at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
We sat down with Sal at Starbucks in Wellington, FL to hear his perspective on performance horses and diet.
How does massage play a role in performance horses?
Sal: You have to look at the overall general performance; physical condition affects mental, which can optimize performance. Massage is about optimizing performance. Evaluating the horse’s condition and dialogue with the rider are critical elements.
How did you find the whole food diet and Biostar?
Sal: I was seeing more metabolic horses and horses with ulcers. I talked to Dr. Tim Ober about it and he said he had seen such success with horses on this kind of diet. I talk to clients about sugars, starches, the good oils, beet pulp, and GMOs. People need to hear this information 1 million times.
What do you recommend if you suspect ulcers?
Sal: I encourage people to get their horse scoped for gastric, and or ultrasound for hind-gut ulcers by their vet.
What kind of results have you seen with the whole food diet?
Sal: I know a number of metabolic and ulcer horses that are doing terrific on it. The metabolic horses loose their fat deposits, their necks are less cresty. The ulcer horses, once they have been treated by the vet do better physiologically. Horses in discomfort can tend to be spooky, disobedient, or resistant to the leg because they don’t feel good. The source of discomfort could be any number of issues including gastro intestinal tract issues. I can sometimes tell when horses have ulcer issues, but these issues have to be treated pharmacologically first. There are performance horses that do perfectly well on commercial feeds, but the metabolic and ulcer horses benefit from a different kind of diet.
You have been experimenting with K-tape. K- tape got international exposure at the London Games, particularly with the USA Womens’ Beach Volleyball gold medal team. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Sal: K-tape which is Kinesology Tape is used by many human athletes. Horses have a high degree of sensitivity from their nervous system which can make a difference, even more than humans. Accuracy (placement of the tape) is crucial, using the correct tension (stretch) of the tape, where you locate the tape. There is lots of nuance to this therapy. K-tape increases blood and lymphatic circulation to a specific area which can assist in fascial release. The technique is especially useful for treating a specific area of muscle or tendon. K-tape is about subtlety and the details.
What tips do you have for owners and riders improving their horses’ physiological well being?
Sal: Put your hands on your horse. Pay attention to the feedback, of what the horse is telling you. Pay attention to that one day when your horse gets grumpy while you are currying him. Pay attention if he pins his ears when the saddle is being put on his back. If you have your hands on your horse everyday you will be able to catch problems earlier. This provides more information for the vet and massage therapist. Realize that if you don’t get either pleasure or pain reaction from your palpation you are just moving hair.
How often do you typically work on the high performance horses?
Sal: Sometimes once a month, or every two weeks, sometimes once a week, and to treat an acute condition sometimes several times a week. At a competition it could be twice per day. But the best therapy in the world is good riding.
What is your own personal food regimen?
Sal: I eat a good breakfast, I eat foods from different food groups, make sure I have plenty of protein. I keep sugar intake low, I eat small meals all day to maintain consistant sugar levels. I don’t eat soy. I avoid GMOs. I buy organic when I can. I am in Whole Foods at least four days a week.
For more information on Sal, or to contact him, please visit his website: Sal Massage