One of the greatest joys that one can ever hope to find and experience in life is one that includes living out a dream in the profession that one ultimately ends up in.
And for the last 29 years, that’s exactly what Minford native Dianne Bond Volz has been able to experience.
Volz, who co-founded and currently runs the Louisville, Ky.-based Equine Therapy 502, parlayed the education that she obtained from Minford and a post-secondary equine science degree at Morehead State University into a career as a thriving equine therapist across Florida, Kentucky, and New York.
This year, Volz, under the Equine Therapy 502 banner, has been the head therapist for eight horses that are participating in the 144th Annual Kentucky Derby, which will take place on Saturday at the esteemed Churchill Downs facility in Louisville.
Due to privacy reasons, Volz could not comment on the exact horses that she is working on, but the Minford native considers it an honor to work with horses — the very horses that she believes are “the top professional athletes in the world.”
“It is wonderful,” Volz said. “I have the best job in the world. All professional athletes have their team of people that keep them happy and sound; we just happen to be part of the horses team of keeping them happy and sound.”
Equine Therapy 502 — the latter part of the name being derived from the Louisville, Ky. area code that is part of the city and the surrounding counties of the area — has been running strong for 29 years.
In addition to being the team therapist for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, which were held at the esteemed Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., Volz has been the primary therapist for four past Kentucky Derby winners — Fusaichi Pegasus, Monarchos, Always Dreaming, and Super Saver. Always Dreaming is the reigning champion of the event, while Fusaichi Pegasus and Monarchos went back-to-back in the Kentucky Derby in 2000 and 2001. Super Saver, who won the event in 2010, gives Volz two Derby winners that the Minford native has worked with in each of the past two decades.
So how has Volz developed these winners, you ask? Consistency. For each of her clients, Volz uses a series of products, including electric muscle stimulation, infrasound therapy, and ultrasound technology, along with stretching exercises, to get the horses that she cares for in tip-top shape by performing these tactics once or twice a week.
“We use a lot of different machines,” Volz said. “We go in the horse’s stall, put them on the wall with a bungee cord, and we use theraputic ultrasound, electric muscle stems, and all of these additional machines that we use to evaluate the muscle structure and see where there are problems or imbalances. At that point, we’ll decide what machines to use and set up a protocol. We work on our regular clients once or twice a week.”
Initially, however, equine therapy wasn’t widely accepted.
“In a lot of ways, (the horse racing business) has changed a lot, and in other ways, the horse racing business hasn’t changed at all,” Volz said. “When I first started, people were skeptical of equine therapy, but at certain points, people, especially trainers that have been athletes in the past, saw the value in doing those kind of things for the horses as opposed to just doing Western medicine and giving them anti-inflammtory shots and that kind of thing. People are more familiar with it now because we’ve all been around for so long. We’ve kind of gotten it out there, and it’s become a recognized profession now.”
And as a result, Volz has been able to establish a lifestyle that has been nothing short of enjoyable — considering the nature of the animals that she holds near and dear to her heart.
“It’s a very rewarding career, but it has its challenges as far as education and licensing are concerned,” Volz said. “There are challenges that we’ve faced with those points over the years, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Just hanging out with horses all day long is the best.”