It’s been 2 days since Liam’s massage, and I absolutely cannot believe the improvement! To begin with, he let me brush him. It may not sound like much, but it’s HUGE!!!! He hated to be brushed so much that he would pin his ears as soon as he saw a brush in my hand. The whole process was horrible, as I tried to only get the really-too-dirty-to-ignore spots, he would pin his ears and snap his teeth and hold up a back leg (and on very rare occasion, actually kick out). The whole time I’d be going, “Liam, quit it! Put your foot down!” and he’d quit momentarily and then start again. So much for bonding time while grooming. Well, yesterday he let me brush him. He never fussed, never chomped, never swished. He just stood there like a normal horse. I was amazed, and so grateful! What a wonderful experience to truly appreciate such a simple thing.
Then today it got even better. When I rode him right after the massage and yesterday, he felt looser and freer. He trotted off with an easy swing to his back, instead of needing a few rounds to warm up. I had awesome stretching trot circles going. Well, today he added the icing to the cake. We *started* our trot in a long and low stretchy frame, his back up and really swinging, his neck softly arched and a gentle, supple contact on the bit. Around and around, circles, figure 8’s, it didn’t matter, he was so content to stretch. Then I gathered him up and had awesome working trot, then put it together even more into an awesome canter.
Well, then my trainer upped the ante on us. Usually when we go from canter to trot, he falls apart just a little. He is getting good about doing the transition when I ask, and he is staying on the bit, and maybe if you watched you wouldn’t even notice, but he falls through the transition just a touch and the hind end doesn’t reach up underneath in the transition, so he lands in a big trot that is a touch off balance and I can reorganize quickly, but that moment is still there. Today my trainer instructs me to take him from our good, quality canter straight to collected trot. The first time I ride him like I’ve ridden him, and he lands in big trot, but it’s more organized than usual, and I’m able to take it straight back to canter. The next time, I plan ahead better and the canter gets smaller… smaller… smaller… until all I do is hold with my seat (where did THOSE muscles come from!??! I swear they weren’t there last week!) and *POOF!* he shifts into collected trot!
I couldn’t believe it happened so easily! It was like all of the sudden I was capable of riding it, and he was comfortable and right there on my aids so he just gave it to me. The best part? Then we were told go back to canter. And we did. And then back to collected trot. So we did. He needs to sit in the canter transition. So we did. And now sit into the collected trot. So we did. It was magical. He was actually starting to work with real collection! So we quit there. I was quite amazed by my pony!!!!
So I guess I learned the value of a massage, and the importance of having all the back, shoulder, and neck muscles loose and relaxed and feeling good. Yes, these horses will give us their all, and it’s just up to us to keep them as healthy and happy as we can so that “their all” covers everything we are asking for. Good boy today Liam!