So as most of you know, I’m working towards my massage certification through a program in my state for equine massage therapy. And this past weekend was the first!! I also want to apologize for not being able to get this out as fast as I would have liked, I’m in the middle of my finals week and everything hit me like a freight train. My goal was to have it out by monday, but then we went and saw Endgame, and then I had about 17 assignments due on Monday, and Tuesday was a wreck so, here we are, posting at midnight on Wednesday.
So like a doof, I did not take any photos on the first day which I so should have. First off I need to mention something about myself. With the whole major anxiety thing I’ve got going, being any form of late is a major tick/trigger for my anxiety. Even if I’m late to my own set times I lose it. So guess who was 2 hours early to her first class?? This girl!! I ended up wasting some time in a McDonalds down the road before heading back and going in to see if I could find any humans. I got the 10 cent tour, and then got to wait another hour for everyone else to show up!
The first class set started on intros like most first classes that aren’t massive college classes do. There are 8 other women in the class with me, and I am the official baby of the group, being 20. It was fun to meet a range of people, who had either years or minutes of horse experience and basically compare notes of our experiences.
Alright, moving on. The first thing we covered was bones!
The head instructor, Lisa, had two buckets full of bones and had us pull them all out and match them to the correct table where diagrams were. We also had a handout to work on and ID specific lumps, bumps and projections. We also have a lovely mascot to reference, his name is Boneapart. (They’re so punny over there, and yes he is real).
We also went over any and all skeletal projections you can feel on the surface of the horse, like the facial and zygomatic arch. After that, it was a quick intro to the whole internship ideal which I will explain a little more at the end.
Then my favorite, lunch. I was told by one of my classmates who had been certified by the human massage course at the same school that last time she had been there, the soda vending machine did not work. I waited till all the regular massage people left to try the faulty vending machine in case of embarrassment if it failed.
The second set of lectures for the other half of the day was the history of massage and massage techniques. Of course, we breezed through it all, and moved on to practicing! I did appreciate having the ability to practice moves on a living body that can give feedback in English as well as someone observing. Also having a massage was pretty great, I haven’t had one since finals freshman semester. I am a little sore from it but I think it’s just because of how deep they had to go to get a release. I’m a tight kid, what can I say?
Then once that was done, we were dismissed and I zipped my way to the barn. Traffic was miserable but what else can you do during rush hour on a Friday? I got to the barn by 6:30, and was on by 7, but by 7:15 a thunderstorm rolled in so I had to get off. Bently was so confused, but I got to see my boy for a little bit before going home. At least we cantered a little and got some trot work in before it started up bad.
Day 2 seemed a lot easier! The drive wasn’t as hectic as it felt the day before, maybe because it’s a Saturday and who gets up at the ass crack of dawn to go to Worcester? Like before, I was ridiculously early, but I now had a keycard to get in and knew where to park, so I wasn’t as nervous. I also spent a half hour watching a live stream of the Brayton Point cooling tower demolition before I went in, so it ate up some time sitting in a parking lot alone.
Day 2 started with a lecture on myofascial releases, and then we went back to practicing the movements and massage techniques. We spent most of the day practicing, and then we had a practical where we went through a message sequence on the instructors. I was told I had lovely hands that were always warm and sometimes seemed on fire, which I was told was a good thing. My self-heating hands came in handy for something else other than cleaning frozen water buckets in the winter with no gloves. I also earned the nickname Young One, after being the only one who knew how to work a CD player, which I find hilarious that no one but the youngest could figure out the older tech.
All in all, Day 2 was a practice day, so there wasn’t tons on the report back. However, I did get out an hour early for taking my practical first, so I got to the barn at 5:30. Which gave me ample time to ride my boy. Aaaand have a mini photo shoot, I mean look at his butt, its all filled out! I got so many photos but they were either of him right in my face or super far away. My horse is so clingy.
Day 3 was the day I was the most nervous and the most excited for. This was the first day we would be working with real horses, and I was so ready for it. The farm where we were at for this weekend was in Southbridge MA, and it was mainly a carriage driving barn! The lady who owns and runs the whole 158 acres does combined driving and competes in it. The barn itself was an old cow barn with gorgeous stalls. There were only 15 horses there, 9 being her own and the other 6 being boarders. The indoor was massive, mainly for the driving factor.
We started our morning with bones again, this time comparing them to a willing living model. We used two, the picture below was a lovely gelding named Sunny, and another gelding named Jack who didn’t tolerate it for too long. After bone comparing, we felt for all the boney areas that you could feel through skin and went through the whole body twice. At this point, I think my toes were about ready to fall off. Despite being in the 50s, it was wet and windy so it made it feel about 20 degrees colder then it was. I broke out footwarmers it was so bad and passed them out to some people.
After lunch, where we all raced to the closest Big Y for the soup bar, we practiced on three horses with an instructor. My group ended up getting the 8-year-old Dutch Harness horse who still acted like he was 2, and was extremely mouthy. His full blood sister pretty much stalked us the whole time we worked, she was such a cutie.
It was extremely helpful to do movements on the horses, but at the same time, it was discouraging, because I had done so well the day before, and now I was back at square one. I did get a lot of good comments from my instructor, but I wanted more time to just play and figure out my own movements and my own preferences. Everyone does it a little different, and I was getting a lot of compliments on how I never lifted my hands off the horse to keep the flow.
After working on the horses, we ended up going into one of the heated tack rooms and going over a simple massage sequence for horses. I also ended finding out the real reason hamstrings are called that, and I am 100% for changing the name. One of the instructors, the woman who started the whole program, is trying to find a new name for it, and I ended up giving her an acronym to replace it which she was in love with.
I honestly went into this weekend terrified and came out so much more confident. I still have a few chunks of online work to finish, which is all just tissues and organs. I had previously mentioned my internship, which I will be able to start after the May classes. The internship is pretty much all self-monitored, and I have to complete somewhere around 38 to I think 40 hours of work on horses and keep a detailed record book. There are some rules, like only 12 hours can count of friends and family horses, only 3 hours per horse, etc. The whole idea is to get us out into different barns to essentially recruit clients before they have to pay us. So if you live in South Eastern Mass, or within an hour or so of Berkley, wait a month and I’ll be able to give your pony a free massage!