A lifelong lover of everything equine, Hughes was drawn to dressage toward the end of her 23-year career with Eli Lilly. When she retired from Lilly in 2010, she focused the analytical mind that served her well in the corporate world on dressage competition, as well as on boarding horses and training riders at her 80-acre Coatesville facility known as Serenity Farms.
Hooked by the beauty and precision of the discipline, Hughes devoured as much information as she could about the biomechanics of horses and riders and how they fit together. As her knowledge base grew, so did her performance in competitions.
“Dressage is precise to the extreme, so it really attracts analytical people,” said Hughes.
In 2007, Hughes was awarded the bronze medal for performance through the Third Level and then, in an effort to better understand the nuances of the scoring system, she pursued the United States Dressage Federation’s “L” education program for judge training. She passed that program with distinction in 2009 and immediately set her sights on attaining the Fourth Level scores required to enter the “R” education program.
The Masterson Method involves a combination of osteopathic and myofacial release, acupressure, and a small amount of massage designed to locate and relieve pressure points in a horse, restoring its normal range of motion in key junctions and allowing it to maximize its performance. The technique requires precision, finesse and attention to detail: perfect for Hughes’ analytical brain.
Hughes completed a year-long process of becoming a certified practitioner of the Masterson Method in September of 2011 and as an advanced instructor, she now offers equine bodywork services through her business, The Performance Point.
The Masterson Method is gentle, smooth, and involves an incredibly light touch. Hughes doesn’t yank on body parts or apply massive amounts of pressure anywhere on the horse’s body. Instead, she guides the horse’s natural process of restoring its physical health, doing for the horse what the horse can’t do for itself.
Once Hughes’ sharp mind has restored the horse’s sound body, she wants a saddle that won’t undo all of her progress.
“I lost so much money buying saddles and then selling them because they no longer fit my horse after two months,” lamented Hughes. So she turned to Sara Ivie of Saddle Solutions LLC in Mooresville, Indiana, and to the County Saddlery products that Ivie offers.
The high-quality custom fit County saddles are like nothing Hughes has experienced in her lifetime of riding. Hughes especially likes how connected her County saddle keeps her to her horse’s back, allowing her to feel in tune with the horse’s balance and body movement as she rides.
“The bodywork provides significant educational background as well as feedback on the horse’s body condition under the stress of increasing complexity and difficulty of what we are learning together,” says Hughes. “A saddle that is balanced and supports correct biomechanics of horse and rider is therefore very important.”
She has since purchased several more County saddles, and most of her boarders use County saddles, too.
“The big thing for me is that I can get the saddle refit to my horses every few months if I can feel a change in the muscle development through dressage.”
Now that mind, body, and saddle have all come together for Hughes, her next goal is well within reach.
To learn more about Hughes, The Performance Point, and Serenity Farms, visit www.serenityfarms.biz.
To learn more about Ivie, County Saddlery, and Saddle Solutions LLC, visit www.saddlesolutionsllc.com.