The anatomy of pride?

Of course, the busy week continued… 

Wednesday/Thursday was volunteering as usual and was lovely (also as usual). We’ve another new addition! Diego is a nice, solid-looking, horse and seems a confident character who’ll take everything in his stride.  

His presence, amongst other things, was a nice opportunity to watch the posturing and muscle engagement of horses that are either mildly startled or showing off to one another. One of our little mares (Rosa) instantly started, ahem, “winking” at him as they do. She’s a flirt. Then on day two when we turned one of our geldings (Buster) out with him there was a lot of posturing and squealing. But it was less a disagreement, and more our gelding seeming affronted that he wasn’t worthy of more response. Diego was too busy looking over the fence at the aforementioned flirt (who, by the way, is kind of the other gelding’s girlfriend) and so Buster put on all his best posturing and movement. Withers lifted, neck long and arched, then some very impressive bits of Spanish walk, pawing the ground, lovely elevated trotting… Having an interloper in his field, looking at his girl, and somewhat ignoring his existence was apparently motivation enough to bust out a few of the “I’m a mighty stallion, my mama told me so!” moves. Diego was unmoved by Buster’s display, completely disinterested except when pushed, which was the only time he really reacted in kind. 

Things overlap, don’t they? I suppose this is what we mean by “coincidence”, that you notice connections because your field of vision is primed for them. Buster had the donkey tied up outside his stable this week. Now, most of the horses are still a bit unsure about the donkey, including this one. And so he craned and arched his neck over the stable door, reaching as far as possible to get a closer look. So that’s two examples of a particular type of engagement, brought on both times by a certain type of inherent pride and showiness. “Who dares be near my stable?!” And what should I end up reading today but an article by Deb Bennett in which her sketch of a similar moment (a stallion whose interest has been captured) deftly showed the exact same shapes in the neck. The accentuated wing of atlas, the slackened under-neck, the lovely long arch of the crest. It does make you wonder if considering inherent motivation would give a good route into training philosophy, which is I suppose why the people at Intrinzen have ended up taking that path. 

Her article also discussed the longus colli and scalenus, which is good timing following the Sharon May-Davis dissection and lecture a couple of weeks ago. Whilst Sharon had talked about what can be done to tone those muscles with little effort (management, feeding, etc.) Deb’s article pointed out the difference in size and distance and thus leverage/power between those deep ventral muscles and the big topline muscles. If the rhomboid and trapezius get involved, for example, the longus colli and scalenus have no chance of overpowering them. So until they’re developed to give that crucial, continuous, ventral support, the topline muscles have to be allowed to largely relax. But alas, so much harder to develop muscles that you can’t see. 

Speaking of that, I’ve continued working on my anatomy boards this week. I’m now onto the fun bit of drawing some of the stick-on pictures. Along with the fun stuff like tack options (and lord, I’m trying to show nearly everything the kids might encounter or need to learn about for their exams, plus pretty things that I just want to draw, so that’s a lot of stuff), I’ve roughed out the internal organs and neatly drawn out the superficial muscles. Am burning through my marker pens! I’m trying to think of ways of making these boards and stick-on details as useful as possible for the teachers and the kids. Turn it into a game? Combine it with a smaller print-out for colouring in? I need to check my BHS book again as I’m wondering how much information they really expect to have about the superficial muscles. Indeed, why teach those first at all? I suppose because they’re the big “movement” muscles and can be easily seen from the outside? Seems to me it would make more sense to start deep with the ligaments since that’s what we’re relying on when we sit on a horse (especially an undeveloped one), but who knows. 

Ros, who founded the stables, had the idea of trying to get something like my boards made in plastics and kind of 3D. Not like a full anatomical model, but a board that projects outwards with all the pieces interlocking. It’s an ambitious idea, got to love her spirit! Again, who knows. It could technically be done. I could sculpt in clay and get all the components cast somehow (vacuum forming? Or plaster casts then filled with latex or rubber?). But I’ve not got enough knowledge at my fingertips to know the best way or whether it would be a worthwhile endeavour.

One thing at a time. Sort of. My brain is already a bit overloaded right now, too much in the “I almost know it” bracket at the moment, need to focus and shift a few things onto the “oh yeah, I know that” category before cramming anything new or challenging in there. But hey, as with corsetry before, part of the challenge is that the small area that I do know in detail is also the area I’m most interested in knowing more about! I’m having to re-learn the digestive system, etc. for these boards, but I’m wanting to learn ever more about the spine. So I guess the overloaded brain will have to continue for a while. It’s a wonderful thing really, to be learning something in detail. Happy times! 

 

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