July 24, 2011

Passing The Time

Might as well be useful, right?  I always love a project and we have jumps that always need to be maintained so every once in a while the bug strikes and BO and I attack unsuspecting wood with a vengeance.  Our latest project:  a ten gazillion pound lattice gate that had some rotten bits and a broken top board.  This is what it looked like after I spent about an hour and a half ravaging it with a paint scraper (through at least five or six layers of old paint) and ripping off rotten bits.  Amazing that after ten years, there is still good wood under there on most of the pieces!

Stripped and scraped.
 Then the fun part:  putting it back together and repainting.  BO's horse has just informed us that he is not a fan of black and white jumps.  So we made this gate into a present just for him.

Finished product!

He's going to learn to like them now!

In Solo news, there is little to report.  I am working my arm muscles to exhaustion massaging his giant orange butt, I guess it keeps my shoulders toned.  You haven't felt an ache until 1200 lbs of horse leans on your finger.  On the plus side, it has been very useful to really explore the feel of his muscles and I am getting very good at finding knots of tissue that need attention.  I would encourage all of you to get out there and start digging around in the muscles and getting to know what the baseline is for your horse -- equine massage is NOT rocket science and I always say, why pay someone to do something you can learn yourself!  Your horse will let you know what feels good and what doesn't (if you own a mare, may I suggest knee pads?).

We did do a teeny jump school today.  I convince myself that Solo is feeling a little better; he feels more willing to use his back stepping up into trot and canter and he held his rhythm well even when stretching down in the canter.  This has also given us an opportunity to firm up some holes in our basics; I am really focusing on keeping an equal weight in both reins, in making Solo keep an ACTIVE walk in the arena, in keeping his back up and hind end under himself during transitions down to walk, all the little things that we sometimes let slide when we are focusing on bigger goals.

It's hard to say where we really are on the injury curve.  On one hand, I feel like he is moving better.  On the other hand, I can feel allllll the places in his gluteal muscles that are tight, scarred, and sore.  On the other hand (there's an unlimited number of hands here), I don't know what those muscles felt like before the injury.  All horses in work have tight spots and knots, so how many are new?  On the other hand, he's quite willing to jump, even tucked up to the base of the jump, although these jumps max out around two feet.  I ran through the bottle of Robaxin so now he is on nothing but the occasional gram of bute.  So I guess I'll just keep both hands digging in to those muscles and see what tomorrow brings. 


  1. It's progress... and that is good... keep on churnin'. He's gonna take care of you all the more because of it!

  2. As a certified equine massage therapist myself, I am totally for people knowing how to poke and prod the right places on their horses themselves, but I would NOT recommend just trying it without first having a certified therapist either come show you what to do, or taking a course/doing some serious research yourself.

    No, it's not rocket science, it's just a lotlotlot of anatomy, memorizing muscles, learning strokes, recognizing feedback signals, being able to tell what muscle you're hitting, what manipulations can be done to it, etc. It's a lot of work, and not something I'd tell people to just go ahead and try.

    Yes, you can absolutely use basic strokes and probably make your horse feel a little more at ease, but I've actually seen people try things on their own and start themselves on the path to doing damage. For example, a lady whose mare I started working on recently had tried to massage her mare to help wake her muscles up a little before riding. She's been using effleurage, a basic, sweeping stroke on her upper leg muscles. BAD idea. She was essentially going against the countercurrent blood flow exchange system in the horse's legs, and had encouraged blood to flow and pool in her horse's legs, causing them to stock up. She had no idea that the fill she'd been seeing for days was being caused by her.

    Another short story: a friend of mine discovered something similar to what you did, Solo, about the way that nerves run through the connective tissue and muscles and what happens when you work muscles the wrong way. She was trying to massage a sore hindquarter, went against the muscle grain, and got such a strong negative reaction from the horse (probably both from pain and thoroughly irritated nerves) that the horse bucked out, nailed her in the leg (fracturing her femur), and failed to recover his balance in time, collapsing on the crossties and tearing up his hocks and lower legs pretty nicely.

    Again, not advocating people don't explore and learn what they can do to help their horses, but please, find a professional who can show you a thing or two, or have a work-up done on your horse first so you can see what they see and ask what you can do yourself. There are some things only someone who has been trained in the field will be able to fix, but you can do a lot as long as you know what you're doing! :)

  3. You make a very good point, Abbie, and thanks for chiming in! I always forget to type enough disclaimers!

    I'm sort of have a cheat too, because I am a biologist and have studied a lot of physiology and have a very good understanding how it all works. I also know equine body language and am very attentive to the beast my hands are on. Safety first!!

    So do be careful out there, folks, and thanks again, Abbie -- I certainly don't want to say massage therapists are not valuable b/c I very much benefit from one myself and he does things that I could never accomplish on my own!

  4. Nice job on the lattice gate. I bet a few horses will look a little bug eyed at it. Glad Solo is feeling better.