Equine Body Work

Equine body workers provide massage, acupressure, cold laser remedies, and other practices that help sustain the well-being of horses. I began my education about this work during the summer of 2011 when, at the suggestion of a friend, I attended a lengthy and exhausting class in equine massage. My learning continues through questions to and answers from horse people, farriers, veterinarians, other bodyworkers, reading, seminars, and DVDs, but mostly through what the horses themselves tell me.

9/30/17 - Snakebite and a Broken Heart

 

8/9/12 - Two Layers of Onion

I met a quarter horse mare several weeks ago. Laurie and I took Thunder down to the veterinary office on the highway for his spring immunizations. As we were about to pull out of the parking lot, I saw Heather, a volunteer at the End of the Road Ranch, standing at a horse trailer with Carol, who owns the horse-rescue operation. Laurie and I went over to say hello.

Onion's hoofThe horse was well-fed, well-built, and muscular, but she didn't look good. Fresh avulsions on her flanks, back, and shoulders told of a recent unpleasant breeding episode. Her chipped and cracked hooves flared and she didn't stand on any one of them for long. She looked miserable. After the vet examined her and treated her wounds, the mare would not re-enter the trailer, even though she had done so readily when Carol and Heather picked her up. I whispered to her and she listened, but she didn't hop on board. Laurie tapped her with a training stick. The mare still didn't load.

The vet came out to the parking lot to assist. He urged the mare forward into the trailer by tapping on her ankles. The mare let fly with a kick that knocked off the good doctor's hat and glasses; Silver City came within an inch of losing one of its four large-animal veterinarians. Carol then called Scott, one of the area's horse trainers, for help. While we waited for Scott's arrival, Carol told the mare's story.

Carol and Heather had just picked up the mare at the request of her owner. They made a stop at the veterinarian before taking her to the ranch. The mare's owner had taken possession of the mare about a year prior. She did so because she is a good woman and this horse needed a home, having been turned loose in the desert to fend for herself with a couple of other abandoned equiidae. None of the horses thrived under those conditions. They were reported to the local livestock inspector, who had one of them euthanized and placed the others temporarily with a rancher. The rancher, whose facilities were already taxed by too many horses, subsequently turned the mare over to Kathy.

Kathy soon discovered that the mare was hard to handle. She had to be sedated to undergo farriery and she mercilessly bossed Kathy's two other horses around. Her feet were so sore that she was downright grumpy and couldn't be worked. Kathy took the best care she could, but eventually her resources grew thin and the mare's behavior toward Kathy's blind gelding was a source of concern. Kathy's delusional other gelding had taken to mounting the mare when she was in season, hence the mare's torn-up skin. Kathy called Carol and asked her to take the mare.

Scott arrived and persuaded the mare to load. I offered to work on her once she settled in at Carol's ranch.