Lori Schwinnen is the heart, soul, and hands of her business, Cutter’s Edge Equine Massage Therapy. Based out of Alvarado, Texas, she travels the Dallas/Fort Worth area to bring a healing touch to her equine clients, who range everywhere from the beloved backyard companion to the fiery barrel racer, hardy eventer, and the kind-hearted therapy horse.
Originally from Ohio, Lori graduated from University of Toledo with a degree in finance and moved to Texas for work. But as a lover of horses from childhood, she wanted to keep them in her life and continued her education. This time her classroom was the corral, and she put in several hundred hours of training, case studies, and tests to complete the first of her certifications in 2014. Now a plant controller for a big manufacturing company with a 40-hour work week, Lori still organizes her schedule to work on at least 30 horses a month, often in conjunction with veterinarians and equine chiropractors. On weekends, she travels to barrel races such as the BRAT Association and KP Productions and makes herself available to anyone whose horse needs help. She doesn’t sit still for long—her skills in basic massage, kinesiology taping, cranial and neural myofascial release, and laser therapy give her the opportunity to help nearly anyone.
Except for her laser, activator, and tape, all of Lori’s tools reside in her hands and keen eyes for reading the horses’ body language. “I may start with a massage, or someone may tell me their horse is sore somewhere,” she says of watching for relaxation or pain. “I watch the horse’s eye, and I watch for signs of licking and chewing, yawning. If a muscle is tense in an area, it will spasm, but you can also feel tight muscles. And you have to watch for biting and kicking, or they’ll pin their ears or turn and look at you. You get warning signs, so you just have to pay attention.” Watching the horses relax and grow more comfortable is her favorite part, however. “I’ve had such a drive for horses since I was little, so when I got into massage therapy, I got to help horses, and have a closer bond with them. I have such a passion to watch these horses feel better—that’s what keeps me going. Right now, I’m working on a 27-year-old horse, and the owners keep telling me they don’t think he’d be alive anymore if I wasn’t helping him. I’m doing laser, activator, and massage therapy on him every other week. They’ll have him for a few more years and that makes me happy. I don’t charge much—I feel if I can see someone consistently, it helps the horse.”
Lori also believes in the healing power of horses, and enjoys donating massages each month to Wings of Hope Equitherapy, a horseback riding center for those with disabilities in Cleburne, Texas. “Lori comes in once a month to provide laser and massage therapy for our horses. It not only helps them physically, but mentally, so they are happier, and that makes them better for our riders,” says Julie Rivard, the director of operations at Wings of Hope. “Lori’s been coming since 2017, so she’s had her hands on every one of our horses several times and always checks in with issues or problems. And she always sends a text or email for what to keep an eye on. She is a very wonderful lady—a wonderful horsewoman and a wonderful human being all around.”
When Lori’s hands aren’t feeling for where it hurts, they’re on the reins. Her pleasure riding includes dressage lessons and trail riding with Rooster, her 17-year-old Arab-Quarter Horse, and Dusty, her 15-year-old Hanoverian-Quarter Horse. She enjoys the chance to get into the saddle and off her feet, which she finds hurt the most after hours of therapy. “I’ve learned to do more ergonomic movements for my hands, but I’m on concrete and always walking and standing.”
Lori’s long-term goal is to expand her therapy to include aquatherapy. “I’ve always wanted to open up a therapy place where I have all my services. Horses could come swim or do the water treadmill. Even though there’s a lot of horses in the area, there’s nothing like aquatherapy here.” Ultimately, she looks forward to wherever her love of horses and learning takes her healing hands next.
About the Author
Lillian Landreth is a freelance writer and editor. She particularly enjoys writing about rodeo and the extraordinary people and animals who make the lifestyle fascinating. The author of more than 1,000 stories, her writing has appeared in the Rodeo News; The Ketchpen, published by the Rodeo Historical Society and National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; and local newspapers. She is also working on her first novel. When she’s not writing, Lily enjoys riding with the Snake River Stampeders night light drill team, coaching the EhCapa Bareback Riders, a PRCA specialty act, and teaching horseback riding lessons. She makes her home in Southwest Idaho with her entrepreneurial husband, their dog, horse, and cows.