So before I got my own horse I thought all those people who got fancy treatments for their horses were nuts. Saddle fitting? No way, correct pads can make any saddle work. Acupuncture for horses? Like little needles can do anything. And equine massage? If I am not spending money on my own massages there is no way I am getting them for my horses. Obviously Gennyral has changed my mind. In the past few years I have learned that my horse needs some “extras” in order to feel better, and one of those is massage.
Gennyral’s massage therapist has known Gen for longer than I have. She is the one who gave me pictures of Gen as a four year old off the track when he was still nice and dark. The first year I had Gen I was not to be dissuaded from my old school thinking self. I rode in my hunt seat saddle which did not fit him at all, and he certainly did not get any special treatments. My first year with Gen I lived in the northern part of my state. He was at a back yard farm on the side of a mountain. When I moved him back to the area where he was from so I could go to grad school a lot of people saw my new calm pony and were super impressed.
One day, Gen’s massage therapist came to the barn while I was there. I used to lease her horse so we were chatting and catching up when Gen did something I had never seen him do. He nudged me until I gave him his head and promptly turned so that his left hip was right in front of the massage therapist. He then wouldn’t move anywhere else and just stood there looking at her until she went ahead and worked on the sore point. Gennyral’s massage therapist pointed out that maybe Gen would like massage. After this little display I had to agree, so I made an appointment for her to come out and give my pony a rub down.
I had never had a massage myself at that point (I have had two since then, both gift certificates because I could never afford such pampering for myself :P) so I had no idea what to expect. It was very interesting. Gen is very expressive, so it was cool to be able to see what he liked and what he didn’t like. Gennyral’s massage therapist would point out reactions and explain why my horse was doing them.
When Gen’s massage therapist gets a spot where the muscle is hard and works on it, I know Gen feels better. How do I know? Gen will lick and chew (pictured above), or “release” other good things like gas, etc. Not only that, but look at all these pictures. Gen has his eyes closed for most of them. Not because he was sleeping but because he was thoroughly enjoying himself and so in to it. I can also tell it works because he walks better afterwards. Gen’s bad leg is the left front. I know he is not 100% sound and I know it is not normal because he will drag that foot. His shoulder takes the brunt of that ouchiness and becomes so tense that he wont extend it very far after a while. Getting him a message helps him move that leg, which makes him more even all over.
I am sure that some of you think “that’s nice, but my horse doesn’t need that”. Some of you might be right. Some of you though are missing out on something good. When Gen was in work he got a massage every month. These days he only gets a few massages a year, but let me tell you he loves every single one of them. Not only do they help his body, but for my horse they help his mind. I have noticed that a lot of people will pay $100 or more for a vet visit when the vet will just tell them that it is a muscle issue, yet so few people are willing to call a massage therapist for their horses. I have learned to stop thinking of it as a luxury for Gen and more as a therapy. If it helps him walk better for a bit it is worth every penny to me!