Bar sort of relaxing under Karen's ministrations. Only sort of.
Bar allowed about 2/3 of a massage but told us what we needed to know.
Basically, more massage work is needed (which I can do), along with some stretching and saddle pad changes. My saddle is actually okay fit-wise, we just need to work on making sure the pad isn't adding wither pressure.
We are also going to look into acupuncture. No, really, and here's why.
Karen has worked on Bar a lot. (Yes, he is spoiled, hush.) All performance horses can benefit from massage, just like any professional athlete. Only most professional athletes don't have to carry flopping weight around. Horses do, and racehorses do it at tremendous speeds (though jockeys don't flop much).
Every other time she's worked on him, she can work all the way around (despite Thoroughbred dancing) and get him to finally relax. This time, she worked the left side and he was fine. Feisty, a little impatient, but fine. The second she touched the top of his neck on the right side, he very nearly turned into a horse I didn't recognize. He didn't bite, but he either pulled completely away and acted like he might bite, or rammed his big brown side into Karen, all the while kicking out with his hind legs. Not at us, but behind him and into objects. He also got increasingly agitated, and not in a "I'm bored and want dinner" way. We corrected him, of course, but he still made it very clear that while some areas were okay to rub, that spot up high on the right side was OFF limits. Off. No touchy.
This is not the first time Karen has worked on Bar. It is the first time she recommended acupuncture, so I'm listening. She described the sensations she was feeling while she worked on him in a couple ways, both equally plausible based on the things I've felt in my own body. Massage is a great tool, but if something--an energy pathway, a nerve pathway shooting pain messages, whatever--is stuck in the "on" position, massage backfires by basically pouring hot water on it. The other thing that could happen is that the massage awakened something that had been shut down to deaden the pain. Either way, Bar was not letting her monkey with it. Nope. No way.
Yes, I know. This sounds new age and hokey. But. I'm a firm believer in the healing properties of massage and acupressure. I've used both on myself and on my animals (cats, horses, dogs) and seen clear and obvious physical results.
I also saw the same energy level change that I've seen in Bar after one of his twitchy episodes. Much agitation and (almost) fear. Prior to this, Karen has always gotten some level of energy discharge and relaxation in Bar. (Lena falls asleep about half-way through, of course.)
So bottom line is--yes--I'm willing to consider acupuncture for Bar. Why not for myself? Well, here's the thing. I know when my back/neck/hips hurt, I can (and do) stretch, do yoga, go for a walk. I can manage my own pain and reason about where it came from and what I can do about it. Bar can't. All he can do is get grumpy about doing work, or worse--buck me off because I don't pay attention to him hurting.
Is the price of body work worth my own safety? Oh, I'd say yes, yes indeed it is.