A great investment

Officially introducing: Chevy, the 16 year old Hanoverian that recently stole my heart.

The story of how we came to meet is a long one and starts long before I started my lease earlier this month. But everything changed this past Monday. A couple people participating in an instructor’s clinic at the barn said, “Judy wants to talk to you.” Judy, I found out right away, is a very special lady who was convinced my horse had a headache.

After a brief conversation I decided that I should bear the expense of her giving Chevy a massage. It turns out it was no expense at all, but a great investment.

For well over an hour I watched her work through sore spots all over Chevy’s head, face, and back. And it wasn’t just watching. She was so great about explaining what she was doing, and why. I learned about the “hooded eyes,” his lids drooping heavily over his eyes, that initially indicated to her he was in pain. I learned how to relax some of the tension in his neck before and after our work in the arena. I learned how to help him stretch.

Judy also gave me a plan: a couple of months of rehab rides for a middle aged horse that had been worked hard for years, and probably not cared for as hard as he was worked. In a short riding lesson she taught me that I could slowly help him come out of years of pain, and actually enjoy the work he was trained to do.

The best part of Monday wasn’t even all the massage-related things I learned to do, but what I saw and subsequently learned about Chevy and myself.

What a wonderful, sweet, and forgiving horse! Each time Judy found a muscle spasm or the location of an old muscle injury I would watch his eyes go into a squint as he stood still through the pain and allowed her to help him. Whenever given a little time to feel the eased tension, he would reach over and gently hold her hand between his lips. His message to her was simple and clear: thank you. It was a mission not to cry as I realized that he’d been letting me ride/work him for over two months, while in tremendous pain, without ever so much as a mean look. It all made me feel infinitely silly for ever copping an attitude and blaming it on P.M.S.

As for me: I felt sheer joy and excitement at finding out there was finally something I could do for him! He does tons for me just by letting me hang out with him, and definitely by letting me ride him. I always thank him after rides, and even before my lease began I bought him things like treats and a new halter. But he’s a horse. Does he really understand my verbal expression of appreciation? I doubt he gives a hoot about the color or newness of his halter. So there’s what I learned about me. I think I’m turning into my mother and find it hard to feel complete unless I’m “giving to” or “doing for” the beings I love.

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  1. Judy Cross Strehlke January 24, 2013 @ 8:14 AM

    Dear Miry thank you so much for your insightful message. My hope is that horse owners take the time to recognize what body language and expressions mean instead of calling it a bad behavior if the horse cannot go forward and move smoothly and easily. Find the reason. They try so hard. Thank you for giving me the gift of helping Chevy. Bless you for being willing to help!

    • Sheril Peters January 24, 2013 @ 9:51 PM

      Another successful massage Judy. You are awesome and another equine got to feel better. All of ours thank you. Enjoy the rest of your trip and get back real soon.

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