Thoughts and studies

Thoughts that have been knocking around my head this month: 

1) To run a good small business, be nice to people. They’ll be nice back. Everyone’s happy. 

2) If you want to change a behaviour or habit, change the environment so that the new behaviour/habit happens by accident. Far easier (and more effective) than relying on willpower or coercion.  


My friend Glo visited the studio on Friday, always lovely to get the three of us together. She’s lamenting the impending sales of all our remaining shiny things. I’m excited by it though. It’s always good to have a clear out of stuff, you feel lighter for it.  

Saturday was stables as ever, and though we had some fearsome rain at the start of the day it turned out nice. Got loads done and the girls all washed ponies for going to a show the folloing day. I’m currently using any opportunity I can to practice very basic equine massage. What’s especially nice is that I’m doing this mostly with Buster (who I interact with a lot) and Pablo (who is our newest recruit and a bit of a rehab project as he’s had laminitis, bless him). And of course, when you have examples like that you can see more clearly what’s going on. What they like or dislike, where they’re sore or tight, what they resist or ask for more of. First couple of times, Buster wasn’t especially bothered. Now he seems to have twigged that it actually feels nice afterwards and he seems to especially respond to skin-rolling at the shoulder. And though he’s a cob with a little layer of fat to work through, he does actually seem to have quite supple muscles (especially the cutaneous trunci, which they reckon now is connected to lateral bend) which is good. Pablo, by contrast, felt very very tight the first time. He’s tight in general and although I can’t know for sure I imagine it stems from being sore and stiff in his movement from months of laminitis. Very bulky muscles around his abdomen and bum, like he’s gotten used to bracing against discomfort. Second session, much better. Third and fourth, feeling tight again. And you know, he’s getting fitter and coming into work, so that’s no surprise. But it’s nice to do a few massage strokes and feel as though it might help him to find more looseness as time goes on. Anyway, he’s quite resistant to the whole thing, but especially around his right-hand side (which he’s protective of in general). They’re like puzzles. You want to figure them out but – without being able to rely on verbal communication – it takes some time and observation and learning. They’re fascinating. 

I’ve been learning about fascial kinetic lines, courtesy of and various googling/reading. So interesting. Short version: the muscles are wrapped in fascia and so you get connected chains of muscles. Dorsal (topline), ventral, and two lateral lines per side (one superficial, one deep). Each of these lines connects in the masseter (jaw muscle). Tension in one part of the chain can create tension further down the chain (eg: you could have hind limb lameness from tension in the neck). The jaw, being so emotional, is super-important in this regard. Therefore, relaxation of the jaw/poll is crucial to a healthy body. And thus, the apparent holy grail of riding (relaxed, passive, poll flexion) makes perfect sense. Learning why and how stuff works (or doesn’t) is so interesting to me. 

In related news, there’s an equine dissection next Spring that I’m hoping to attend! Three days of super-exciting travel through all the muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints, to learn more about how they work. But alas, there’s also a BHS event coming up next week that we wanted to attend and it’s sold out! I’m pleased for the organisers, but I hadn’t expected it. That’ll teach me to wait. 

Popped along to the Iberian Performance Horse Show yesterday. Sadly, the class I was most interested in (side saddle) didn’t happen! It was never mentioned, so presumably no-one entered and it was cancelled. Then the High School class only had two entries. But even so, saw many beautiful animals and some lovely examples of light riding and correct movement/muscling. Felt like the judging (that I saw) was largely correct. It just made sense. Perhaps people in the Iberian tradition judge on a different criteria? Often at shows, I can’t pick the winner and am sometimes surprised by the placings. But here, I picked every class correctly. Am definitely interested in learning more about the Porteugese and Spanish traditions. 

A horsey friend visited today, always lovely. A friend of hers has just moved to a yard 40mins hacking from a quiet bit of beach. How lush does that sound? Temptation to move back into the countryside is growing stronger… 

Studio tomorrow, going to be a busy week. Studio Party next Monday! Lord, I need to sort through our books and that, going to sell a bunch of stuff cheap to those students and seamstresses who visit. Oh, I also need to proof-read something important. Busy busy. But I’m making myself have proper days off at the moment, which is helping no end. 

Right, chat later!  

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