Spa day for Johnny

Yesterday I had the equine massage therapist out. I suppose I should add another to my “10 Signs You Might Be an Eventer.” #11 Your horse has his very own massage therapist, but your own aching body hasn’t been worked on in years.
My theory, though, is where I can down a couple ibuprofen before a ride, Johnny doesn’t always tell me he’s ‘just not feeling it today.’ Cara, from Stride Right Equine Massage Therapy, picks up on all the subtle nuances of each muscle twitch as she runs her hands along Johnny. A little shameless hubs promotion here: my husband (whom I think is a very talented graphic design artist) recently designed her new logo.

Da-Vinci inspired logo created by the hubs

Da-Vinci inspired logo created by the hubs

Anywho, the vet/chiro/acupuncturist is coming out again Thursday to follow up and further investigate Johnny’s stifles, so I wanted Cara to pinpoint any sore spots on Johnny. Both his shoulders, previously super-tight, were much freer. She commented that she wouldn’t even have mentioned them if she hadn’t known how tight they were her last visit. Unfortunately, it was another uncharacteristically cold low-country day, which meant Johnny was a little…odd. I wanted to take pictures of her working, but he was too busy being a nut job. We conferred that perhaps I’ve been pushing him too hard to quickly. His soreness was again mainly isolated to his back. I’m aware that my dressage saddle’s gullet isn’t as wide as it should be, so we discussed how much of an impact that could be having. As she continued to work over him, Johnny continued to pretend he was a stud colt, rolling his tongue around and gnashing his teeth–biting at any inanimate object he could grab. I’d say it was because she was working on him, but he started it the minute I put him in the cross-ties before she even got there. As someone with significant arthritis (in my hip of all places), I know how much the cold can impact joints–ESPECIALLY when it’s a super-wet cold like we get in the low country. I imagine he spent most of his session worrying that he was going to have to work. (Sad momma face here)
The funny part was when Cara moved to his butt. A light switch flipped, and Johnny stood there, immobile, with a glazed-over look in his eyes. A little horsey heaven. Cara joked that perhaps she should start with his butt next time.
The takeaway lesson from his bodywork session is that I need to go back to bodybuilding 101. Because he’s fitter cardiovascularly, I’ve been pushing him as I would myself in the gym. He simply doesn’t tell me when he hits a threshold. He’s a bit too much like me in that he’ll push through whatever pain to get the job done. I’m going back to lots of stretchy walking with limited trot sets until he builds more back muscle–a slower process, but better for the pony. On a good note, I can tell he’s been building some back muscle lately, so at least we’ve made some progress.



  1. Shelby · March 6, 2014

    I love that the moral of this post is that even if it is slower for your training process, you are slowing down for his sake. That is true horsemanship, and it is nice to see!

    • justjump3day · March 7, 2014

      It’s been a struggle–he’s got upper-level potential, but we’ve had to take it slow: his previous training had major gaps and now his joints need preservation and care. I’d rather have him for the long haul than get what I can out of him while the getting’s good. That’s a lesson that came with maturity, though. I’ve made a lot of mistakes over a lifetime to get where I am now!

      • Shelby · March 7, 2014

        It says a lot for your character that you learned from the previous mistakes; and I know he will appreciate it too! I am excited to see your progress!

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