Combining crop farming and horse massage therapy is proving to be a workable business model for Brian and Valerie Pierzina. Through their business, Grains & Manes Farm, Pierzina’s husband concentrates on raising grain crops on their Trempealeau area farm while Pierzina takes her equine massage knowledge, skills and equipment on the road.
Traveling to where owners have their horses stabled, Pierzina is able to pack her therapy equipment in her vehicle. The equipment gives her the ability to provide a range of treatments to help horses recover from injury as well as maintain good condition.
“I try to be a one-stop shop for what a horse might need,” Pierzina said.
Pierzina began her professional horse handling education at UW-River Falls. After graduating from the equine science program in 1999, Pierzina worked as an assistant trainer at a stable in Madison. She returned home to the Trempealeau area in 2000 when she married her husband.
The couple started out on a hobby farm but then bought land in 2010 from Pierzina’s parents, Roland and Patricia Kriesel, and began raising crops. They were eventually able to move on to their land in 2012.
While they were getting their farm established, the desire to be an equine professional stuck with Pierzina. Her search for a training position wasn’t fruitful because the stables in the area tended to be too small to support a full-time trainer.
She decided to expand her horse-care education by enrolling in the Therasage Equine Massage program in Janesville. Upon completing the program, she began promoting her massage business by taking her services to horse shows and offering them to competitors to improve their horses’ performance.
Treatment is based on improving a horse’s circulation to promote healing. Along with manual massage to alleviate soreness in muscles, tendons and ligaments, Pierzina can provide electromagnetic impulses through a pulsed electromagnetic field device. The pulses the device emits stimulates cell metabolism.
“Horses are more sensitive than humans,” Pierzina said. “When I turn down the device to where horses can feel it, people can’t (feel the pulses).”
One piece of equipment Pierzina makes available for treating horses is the TheraPlate, a vibrating platform horses stand on. Pierzina doesn’t discourage horse owners from experiencing the therapy along with their horse.
She tells the customer, “You pay for your horse and you get to ride (on the platform) for free.”
“It’s (TheraPlate) is nice for pre-event because it reduces the risk for injury,” Pierzina said. “It’s good for cool down and for horses on stall rest or that stock up.”
The equine massage therapist also has lasers in her treatment arsenal. The cold laser doesn’t emit heat but is able to reduce inflammation. It’s particularly effective with open wounds.
“The laser’s light penetrates the skin and into the muscles about one and half inches,” Pierzina said. “It stimulates the cells and can target smaller areas.”
In addition to treating muscles, Pierzina has a nebulizer to aid in treating lung disorders such heaves and allergies.
“It opens airways,” Pierzina said. “It’s not a cure, but it helps manage the symptoms.”
Pierzina also offers trans-electrical nerve stimulation to give short term pain relief and kinesio-taping, which provides support to the body’s fascia.
“Once you lift the fascia, it will stimulate circulation,” Pierzina said.
The one piece of equipment Pierzina isn’t able to transport is a solarium. The infrared lights in the panel mounted in her stable emit heat to treat more chronic disorders such as arthritis and other stiffness.
In their grain operation, the Pierzinas raise conventional crops of corn, soybeans and hay. More recently, they’ve began incorporating teff into the forage mix. While teff is grown in other parts of the world for its seed, which is generally ground into a type of flour, the Pierzina’s raise the grain as a hay crop.
In the southern parts of the country, teff is a perennial. However, frost will kill the plants, so in the northern parts of the country the grain is raised as an annual. It has proven to be a good hay choice for horses on low-carb diets.
“It’s good for horses prone to laminitis, and it’s a softer forage, which is good for senior horses,” Pierzina said.
Pierzina offers a number of therapy packages, which can include grooming, stretching and essential oil therapy.