Tuesday, August 21, 2012
This morning in the barn, a whole new world opened up for me.
I'm learning the art of the healing touch, otherwise known as equine massage therapy. I had the workbook, "Beyond Horse Massage," by Jim Masterson for a number of weeks before the backordered companion DVD arrived. Once both were in my hands, I began my study.
I decided I would concentrate on learning and applying one technique at a time, to attempt a bit of proficiency before building on that knowledge.
So it began at the beginning, or in Mastersonese, "The Bladder Meridian Technique." This technique involves moving the flat part of your fingertips over the horse along a major accupuncture meridian with the barest whisper of contact. It involves what he calls, "search, response, stay, release." As I watched him demonstrate the technique on DVD, I was thrilled at the response he was getting from his horse. Jim Masterson's gentle touch really resonated with me, and it was obviously producing results.
I couldn't wait to get to the barn this morning and apply my new-found knowledge.
I chose a mellow gelding for my first attempt. My eyes grew wide watching him release his tension under the guide of my fingertips. His responses were mirroring what I had seen demonstrated, so I knew I was on the right track. Something that makes so much sense with Mr. Masterson's approach is the concept of working with the horse, as opposed to working on the horse. I was so pleased to find success on the first try.
The second horse I approached with my gentle touch was one of my favourite mares who has never been happy getting her right front foot cleaned. In truth, I have never been able to get her to give me that foot long enough to clean it, as she always kicks her leg forward as soon as I try to bring it towards me. I have always had to call in mi maestro (my teacher/groom) to clean that foot, and she gives him all sorts of problems, too. If I tried to clean her front feet before cleaning her back feet, I couldn't get her back feet cleaned, either, as she would start dancing in the stall, nervously unfurling from her tie chain.
Imagine my satisfaction when she gave me that right foot to clean without any hesitation and in the most relaxed state after I had completed the bladder meridian technique on her. She was my highest of highs today. I can't begin to tell you what that meant to me. It made me feel like I had learned a great secret of the ages to share with my equine friends.
I had horses blinking, twitching, licking, chewing, yawning, shaking their heads, putting their head on my shoulder, looking into my eyes and searching my soul.
Not all was peaches and cream, however. In my last attempt of the day, I tried to help one of our difficult mares unspool under the guide of my
ever-so-soft touch. This mare spends most of her day with her ears pinned back, and while she gives a meanacing appearance, she really isn't as aggressive as she looks. However, the second I tried to approach her poll (top of head), she made it very clear she wanted none of that at all. At that point, I put my hand over her withers and used that as my starting point.
Then it came time to try her right side, as the bladder meridian runs parallel on the left and right side of the horse. It was a big mistake trying to approach her head on the right side. Her head spun around and she bit me in a place I would never show in public. The pain I felt was more in my mind than my body, because I felt so bad I couldn't help her. Reviewing the technique later via DVD, I saw my errors with her. I have hope I'll be able to find the right approach for her, to help her unlock that massive tension. I need to listen to her and approach her from where she is least resistant, not where she is the most resistant.
All in all, it was a very satisfying morning. I later found my eyes welling up, feeling such a sense of satisfaction and purpose. My goal is to make a real difference in the lives of the horses in our care.
Today, I crossed the wire a winner.