Walking among giants… who are five feet tall

Tuesday before the Kentucky Derby- You know the ‘MOST EXCITING TWO MINUTES IN SPORTS” that lasts for two WEEKS here in Louisville, KY? I was asked to come to Churchill Downs to do a demonstration of Kinesio Tex Tape for the jockeys. This all started with a friend, veterinarian Dr. Nancy Brennan. I’ve been taping Nancy for years for all kinds of ailments stemming from the incredibly intense hands-on work she does with race horses. (Nancy’s a ‘Giant’ too… at only about 5’4″ she adjusts, does acupuncture and much more on animals standing way above her head).

One day Nancy and I began to talk about the possibilites for using Kinesio Tex Tape on the horses. I mentioned I’d heard a great case study about a massage therapist in AR taping a horse’s SI joint and getting great results. Nancy was excited and took a roll with her. She’s since taken a KT1 and 2 course with me and learned proper muscle and corrective techniques. Her use of Kinesio Tex Tape with the horses has exploded. One success in particular has been a fole with altered biomechanics that was basically causing him not to stand fully on his legs. Apparently horses have a normal progression of change from standing on bent legs to fully standing upright with all weight on their tiny feet. Well, this little one didn’t do that. He hadn’t progressed to normal standing and Nancy thought Kinesio Tex Tape might help. Using a little ‘crazy glue’ to help tack the ends of tape onto itself as she had applied a mechanical type correction around the fole’s lower legs, Nancy was able to see a huge change in the animal’s gait. She has videos to show it!

One thing lead to another and soon Nancy was finding more and more uses for Kinesio Tex Tape on her four-legged patients. Soon some jockeys began to notice and ask questions. Sure enough, many of the jockeys had seen Kinesio Tex Tape on ‘that girl in the Olympics wearing a bikini, right?’ As it turns out, Nancy’s assistant is friends’ with Jon Court’s son. (This is how connections happen, isn’t it?)

Jon Court is a 49-year-old jockey who seems to be one of the world’s nicest guys and serves as an unofficial mentor to some of the less seasoned jocks. Jon escorted us into the jockey quarters, which Nancy says, “No one gets to go to.” Over the course of the next two hours I taped six of the jockeys – four of which went out immediately and WON their races.

I taped Jon’s wrist and hand – primarily radius/ulna and thenar pad. He had pain there and quite the history of falls. Calvin Borel was next with another wrist problem. Calvin has scars on both wrists and ‘plates in them’ from multiple falls off mounts onto outstretched hands. He told me he had ‘sharp, jarring pains’ in his wrist, mostly the right, when he rides. He was just dashing out to ride, so I had little time for assessment or application, but I applied a space correction type application lenthwise over the approx. 4″ scar on his right lower forearm and a space correction over the wrist, wrapping around the full width of the wrist. Out he went to the track and darn if he didn’t WIN on a 30-1 shot horse!!

He came back to the jockey quarters screaming like an excited kid. “I wanna buy a case of that stuff!” he said.
“I can feel my fingers! And look I got blood in my finger tips now!,” he exclaimed pointing to his thumb where indeed color was apparent where it hadn’t been before. He was so excited in only the way Calvin Borel can be with his grown-up, yet still so wonderfully, joyfully kid-like way that has made him a local and burgeoning national hero. Anyone that saw footage of his win at the Kentucky Derby knows what I mean.

I taped four other jockeys with wrist, shoulder and knee injuries. All went out and placed in the money on their horses!

The great thing about this experience was not only seeing the success and need for Kinesio Tex Tape on these athletes, but also getting a tiny glimpse into the life of a jockey. I’ve been back out to the track to check on the guys and see about retaping, etc. Unfortunately, on that visit, most of the jockeys were still ‘in the box’ sweating out a few pounds in prep for their next race. But, it turns out Churchill Downs employs a full-time chiropractor who spends at least four hours a day working on the jockeys when racing is in season. Merle Barnett, DC has been in this position since 1999 and seems to truly enjoy his work. He was vaguely familiar with Kinesio Tex Tape before I appeared in the jockey quarters and hopefully in the future he’ll be able to adopt more of the Kinesio Taping Method than I was able to demonstrate in a short visit. Perhaps I’ll continue to help him as a taping consultant! Sounds good to me! Goodness knows the jockeys can use it.

Thing is. . . this racing is more than just a job for these jockeys. It’s their life. Weighing in at less than 120 pounds, they all appear to be nothing but limb and muscle. They all had stories to tell of fractures and surgeries and falls and yet they all had an enthusiasm about their ‘work’ that surprised me. Every day they come out and strap themselves to a virtual freight train and go flying around a track that some come to watch just for mere pleasure.

Leaving the jockey quarters to go trackside and watch as they mounted in the paddock, I was startled to see the sharp contrast of world’s that collide at a race track. I left one world of Giant men to walk among people wearing diamonds and smoking cigars who were betting big money on a ‘sport’ – a sport of kings perhaps, or in my mind now . . . a world of Giants who are 5′ feet tall.

Tracy Barnes DC DICCP CKTI
Lousville, KY


2 thoughts on “Walking among giants… who are five feet tall

  1. What a great piece. You should be very proud of such accomplished work. Every day in my practice I get to marvel in not just what the tape can do, but the often immediate reaction of the patient when they feel the result of what was just done.

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