Saturday, April 16, 2011

Horseflesh and Hayfever

Today was the longest day I have ever spent massaging horses. We arrived at the first barn at 10 am and were pretty much massaging half tonne animals until 3:30 pm. I worked with a calm, gentle soul known as Picasso, or Pico for short, in the morning. He is a jumper with tight illiopsoas muscles. He was a very mannerly gentleman in his stall, and never made me feel uncomfortable. His dam has been dead for nearly 25 years, though he is only 7. How is that you ask? Pico was a frozen embryo, made by his dam, a thoroughbred, and sire, a hanoverian, and carried to term years later inside of a Quarter horse mare. How's that for technology? I didn't know they had the technology to deal with embryo transplants 25 years ago... this horse is still young by many horse people standards, though he was conceived before I was. Awesome, right? That's his handsome mug in the pic.

The second horse was a firecracker of a dressage mount by the name of Versace. He on the other hand is what's known as a barn manager. He likes to think that he rules the world from his stall at the highest point in the barn, with a good view. He was mischievous and high strung on his own turf, but once I brought him out into cross ties he settled right down to the serious work. He's got some big nasty trigger points in his neck that make him reluctant to do gait and lead changes, and some tight areas in his abdominals. Maybe they cause his upset stomach, or maybe the upset stomach causes the tight muscles, but either way, it should help his digestion. This is a horse that could benefit from regular massage, so naturally I gave his owners my contact info when they asked. He could end up being my first client once I graduate. How cool is that? It's very cool, let me tell you!

We also saw a dressage demo by a student, lead by the owner of the barn, who taught us all about the complex movements they were illiciting from the horse. It's breathtaking to see that kind of complicated communication between horse and rider. The movements are so subtle, but the results are nothing short of amazing. Most impressive was the piaffe. In a piaffe the horse is asked to walk on the spot. How exactly do you teach a horse that it's productive to walk but not get any further ahead for it? I don't know, but I don't think knowing would make it any less mind blowing.

And now, I am so exhausted that I can hardly stand up. I'm still feeling a bit under the weather, and I also forgot to take my allergy meds this morning, so my eyes are red and puffy, my nose is drippy, and my throat is raw. I'm so tired that earlier my legs shook when I was standing. Now, I'm not sure I could stand. So I won't. I'll go to bed. Reluctant as I am to end this magical day.

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