Monday, September 2, 2013

Blessi Explains How to Do Equine Massage

Blessi is an honorary Tennessee Walker.  A few years ago, Blessi and I attended a play day set up by the Pleasure Walkers Club of Washington.   I had to leave early but left Blessi for some of the club members to ride in the afternoon games.  At the end of the day, Blessi was invited to join the club--I still think I was an afterthought on the invitation.

The club set up a "Learn Equine Massage" clinic taught by Ashley Bowen, Stride N' Balance Massage for Horse and Rider.  Ashley asked if the club would provide a horse that a) had been through equine massage before, b) was good with a whole bunch of people standing around, and c) would permit several people to work on him at once.  And like just about any time somebody comes up with a strange idea for a horse activity, Blessi gets volunteered.  Actually, Ashley had worked on Blessi before and he likes both Ashley and massage so he was a good choice--mostly--as you shall see. 

So the day of the clinic arrives and Ashley starts demonstrating how to massage an equine.  Everything is going well until Blessi decides to provide commentary.  When Ashley concentrates on the massage, Blessi lifts his upper lip and "Smiles" or makes a face.  

As soon as Ashley looks at his head and addresses the audience, Blessi stops the behavior.  Within minutes, Blessi has the audience in stitches.  Ashley thinks she is very witty.  She never catches Blessi as he continues to provide commentary behind her back. 

The Club President forwarded pictures to Ashley the next day and explained what happened.  Ashley now uses those pictures on her business card.  Oh, and I have Ashely to thank for "carrot stretches."  She showed the audience how you can use carrots to get your horse to stretch to either side or make a bow to stretch out those neck muscles.  Blessi thinks earning a carrot is a wonderful thing.  When bored, he will start doing carrot stretches and bows unprompted.  This unusual behavior has provided some interesting moments in subsequent non-massage clinics.

Let me make a personal testimony.  Ashely really knows her stuff.  Blessi took a tumble one time in the arena.  He was playing like a colt and made a sudden turn in some uncertain footing and went down.  He got up and continued to play but the next day he had a weird limp.  I had the vet out and he could not pinpoint a cause but suggested pasture rest.  A few weeks later, Blessi was still limping so I had Ashley come out.  She led him limping into the stall for a massage and led him out an hour later limp free.  He had pulled some sort of muscle during his tumble but had gotten used to holding his neck and back in an out-of-balanced way.  Ashley was able to make the adjustment and get him back to normal.

Ashley Bowen's business card

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