Tina Watkins EST EEBW3
Why equine wellness? It all stems from the gift that the horses gave to Tina as a child, and the amazing connection that these magical beasts have with her soul. Having been involved and around horses her entire life, Tina is truly a horsewoman. To this point, Tina’s mother continued to ride while she was pregnant with Tina – she was truly riding horses before she was walking!
Growing up in rural southern Alberta, Tina was an active member of both 4H and Pony Club. Throughout Tina’s youth and adolescence, horses remained an integral component. Upon completion of high school Tina sought a career that would allow her to make a very positive impact within the equestrian industry, while working with the animals she loved. She began training horses at a very prestigious Hanoverian breed farm just south of Calgary, Alberta. During this time in her life, the realization that the horses coming in for training needed support during their learning lead Tina to seek out more tools to be about to help these mounts.
With an eagerness to learn, and seeking an opportunity to align her passion and her career, Tina enrolled in the BC College of Equine Therapy certification program. It was during her time in college that Tina developed her personal foundation of ‘lifelong learning.’
Committed in her belief that a strong understanding of anatomy and physiology is essential to bringing value as a therapist, Tina’s studies extended to evenings and weekends of working with live horses to broaden her understanding and gain practical knowledge connected to her formal education.
After graduating from college with Honours, Tina founded Inhand Equine Therapy in 1996. In the early years developing her business, Tina was fortunate to have opportunities to work with equine dentists, veterinarians, farriers and other equine practitioners gaining valuable experience and providing team-based solutions to health issues in elite animal athletes.
As Tina became more experienced, she developed a view of horse health as an interrelated group of components. Although massage and whole body assessment were invaluable to wellness of the animals, Tina identified that other health and well-being issues needed to be addressed to allow equine athletes to achieve their ultimate level of wellness. Tina began the study of additional modalities that would bring further benefits to her practice and continue to impact the performance of her equine clients. The results have proved to be exceptional, and Tina has incorporated these modalities into all of her equine client sessions.
Inhand Equine Therapy has flourished and currently boasts a broad equine clientele in all levels of competition and various disciplines. As an active FEI dressage competitor herself, Tina truly understands the unique demands and issues equine-rider partnerships must address.
Teaching is another passion of Tina’s, and she shares her knowledge in a variety of courses every year. Her philosophy of making a very involved topic like equine body work fun is what makes her students not only enjoy her teaching style, but also retain the immense amount of information she has to provide. Her own desire to always continue learning keeps her fresh and excited about every aspect of her career. This passion has brought about the creation of three new divisions of Inhand equine therapy. Expand Inhand, Inhand’s teaching platform where students can learn in the unique POD format. Inhand Collaboration, where students benefit from Tina and the team at Inhand, working with other industry professionals to bring forward educational opportunities. And finally, Inhand Mentor Me, an opportunity for bodyworkers that are already practicing to work with Tina and the team at Inhand in a mentorship role.
Tina specializes in the optimization of health and improvement of performance in equine and canine athletes through a holistic approach. She uses a multiple modality approach, where she is able to customize therapies to facilitate the greatest degree of healing for the animal. A true student of wellness, one of Tina’s core values is continuous study, this has introduced her too many teachers and modalities making her education and experience truly well rounded. Believing that animal wellness and peak performance is only achieved by creating a wellness team around the athlete, Watkins has made it a priority to develop relationships with other professionals in the industry. These relationships have not only enhanced the care given to the animal but increased knowledge and understanding of how an integrated approach is key to wellbeing. In the last decade, Tina has began speaking and educating. Fellow therapists, trainers and horse owners alike have raved about her dynamic style, and how her passion comes through her lectures.
During your equine wellness session with Tina, the client can expect to have an information packed hour, the horse not only receives a specialized soft tissue session dedicated to the needs of that horse, but is left with a full range of motion, isometric and stretching program that is tailored to the horses individual requirements.
A word of thanks from Tina,
My life is extremely blessed! I am surrounded by the most wonderful support team.
My first blessing is being a mother. I am so proud to say I have a daughter; Madeline, affectionately known as Maddie. Maddie is the light of my life, her spirit is so bright and she is also horse crazy, and I am thrilled to see her huge heart so open to animals. Maddie rushes to my arms every night after work and fills my heart. She is turning into a little lady before our eyes, Peter and I could not be more proud of the soul she brings forth into the world.
My amazing husband Peter – ‘PW’ as I fondly refer to him. Peter is my rock, through my continued journey of life-long learning and my crazy work schedule! Peter is there for me day in and day out with lunches as I run out the door, and warm suppers after a long, cold Alberta day working on horses. He always lends an ear to chat and a shoulder to lean on when my day does not go quite as planned. Peter is a ‘drop everything’ kind of guy, whenever I require something built, or a task completed for my teaching, or my work, he is there. He completely supports me both professionally and personally. Each morning my mare is fed early so that I am able to complete my training ride before I head off to work. Peter is willing to schlep my mare and gear to shows, and he has sat through more dressage then any man should have too. Peter himself is a horseman, and his sport of choice is old-style vaquero roping – of which he does an amazing job! He continues to work with and develop our hand picked Salers herd of cattle. Peter has become known in the breed for his outstanding program of breeding, and sends bulls all over North America. The horse bug has also bitten Peter, and he is an accredited Professional Farrier. Working with him as a professional team member on different horse cases has been a great benefit to horse and riders alike.
Peter's amazingly selfless personality is most certainly developed through his upbringing. From the beginning of our relationship and continuing to this day, Peters parents have taken me under their wings and have treated me as their own daughter. Peter's mother and father; Merle and Ted Watkins, have been amazing role models of a very solid and mutually respectful marriage. Their family is always priority and they are the most supportive grandparents we could ever have for our daughter. Peter and I have subdivided the original family property in the Red Deer Lake District, and we are proud to boast that our daughter will be the fifth generation of Watkins to live on this farm! In 2012, the Watkins held a celebration for the families centennial on the land, family and friends joined the festivities from far and wide and a great time was had by all.
My own mother Betty has always been a wonderful inspiration for me. A true ‘Alberta Farm Woman', my mother showed me from a very early age that a woman can do anything her heart desires. Throughout my childhood, my mother raised her children, operated a horse and cattle farm while continuing to work full-time in the city. I have never heard my mother complain and her motto is: “If this is what you want in life, you do it! You can do anything you want – just make it happen – follow a plan, and succeed!” I remember growing up thinking my mom could do anything and I still believe it to be true. She is a blessed inspiration and a truly wonderful mother and grandmother! Now in her 70's, my Mom is still teaching dressage and competing on the national dressage circuit on her Warmblood gelding Piper – a horse that she bred and foaled out herself.
I am lucky to have a wonderful older sister; Michelle, who has always been such an inspiration to me. She is at the top of her field in feedlot health and teaches throughout North America on safe-handling and disease recognition in feedlot animals. She founded Rocky Creek Charolais and operates this cattle ranch North West of Strathmore, Alberta. Michelle is a gifted horsewoman and has the ability to easily work with the most difficult horses. Michelle has always been there for me when I have needed her, and she is always excited to hear about everything that is going on with my life and with my horses. Michelle and my daughter Maddie have a lot of fun together on their play days, and being an Aunt is something my sister has a real knack for.
My brother-in-law Todd is much like my husband in that he is always willing to pitch in. Unlike PW, Todd is more into grease than fur, as he is a heavy duty mechanic. Anyone who spends a lot of time on a farm will note that a mechanic is one's best friend and Todd has always been there when something has stopped working. Todd and his lovely fiancée, Angie along with their two boys; Justin and Tanner also live on the Watkins farm property making this land truly a family farm.
~ Tina Watkins ~