Friday, October 12, 2012

Massage Mirror

Some of you know that my horses get massages but I never do. It recently occurred to me that loosening up my own body might help Calabar's way of going--or at very least, help me stay out of his way better. To be fair, I scheduled massages for both of us this week. Calabar is not good at massages and it turns out, I'm only marginally better at talking myself into holding still.

Calabar was first and Karen came out Wednesday morning to work on him. As always, she began by watching him move in the round pen and gave me some good news--he is stiff, yes, but he is stiff evenly on both sides which is actually good progress! She also commented after his massage that his hind end feels pretty good and that means we're doing well together, my brown horse and me.

Bar thinking about biting Karen the last time  he had work done
Calabar was not overly cooperative the last time Karen did body work on him, so we specifically picked a non-meal time and set up in his paddock, rather than putting him in the cross-ties. Though normally the last step, Karen started with her laser device first in case we couldn't get to any massage. She let him walk in circles around her while she rested the paddle on the various areas on his body--neck, shoulder, withers, back, etc. He did stand still for some of it, but giving him the option to move helped with his inherent claustrophobia so he didn't fight and Karen ended up getting more actual laser-to-horse time. There was some comment about his owner not holding still well, either, but that was surely about Bar's other owner.

Next she did some massage on his left side and showed me a few specific techniques to use on his shoulders and neck on a regular basis. He still moved away several times, but he was pretty good at letting her dig into that side.

Not so much the right side. He would not hold still at all, but curiously enough, he would circle back to her and put his head in her chest. It was like he was saying, "Yes, it hurts and I know you're trying to help but I just can't release that junk right there quite yet."

I knew just how he felt the very next day when I got my massage. "Oh, wow. That's tighter than I thought it was." There was a spot in my right hip that felt like maybe if I could stand just a little more pressure than the good amount being applied, it might let go. Maybe. It was so tender, though, that holding still was nearly impossible.There was another spot at the base of my skull--also on the right--that created an internal war between pushing into the pressure and jumping up from the table. I stayed put but only because I can tell myself this will make things better.

Calabar does not have built-in assurances that this will help the way I do, but the way Karen worked with him yesterday--giving him time and space and freedom--moved him towards at least thinking about it.

I went to the barn last night, still not sure I could ride with my Forrest-bruised thighs, but determined to at least lunge Calabar to see how he was moving. He looked fantastic--beautiful, rhythmic movement and longer, looser strides, too.

So of course I got on for a minute, bruises and all, and he was actually easier to ride! I mentioned to Karen that I couldn't tell if it was him or me and she said a lot of it was him. I still wasn't sure, but the difference last night was undeniable. Less wonky, both of us.

Bar says I should get massages more often and that he is actually fine, but could I gently rub that spot right there? NO, not too much and not too hard and definitely stop when he tells me to. Ah, that's the ticket.

And indeed it may be just the ticket for both of us, though I should probably spend more time relaxing during my massage versus trying to map my sore spots to where they would be on him and seeing if they match. Maybe next time.

1 comment:

lmel said...

Man, I'd could use one right now! I'll bet it really does feel good. I've wondered about it for the horses too, but not sure who in the area does equine massage--something to look into.
Hope you're healing up from Forrest!