A client shared this video of a painted horse working the treadmill at The Equine Therapy Centre, Hartpury. She remarked that it helped her visualize her horse’s musculature better (which made the heart of her horse’s massage therapist swell). Pretty neat, right? Notice anything that changes the way you visualize your own horse’s musculature?
Here’s a confession from my early days as a green equine anatomy aficionado and massage therapist: the first time someone pointed out the location of the cervical spine on a horse we were about to work on, I was incredulous. You mean to tell me the neck bones don’t arch across the cresty tippy-top of the neck like a roof ridge? I’ll be darned. All those hours studying the equine skeleton on flat, white, 8.5"x11" sheets of paper couldn't make the functionality of the actual skeletal system compute. Nor, might I add, had a lifetime of playing and working with horses.
There you have it. Your equine massage therapist used to believe that everything south of the mane was muscle. If you learn one thing today, let it be this: your anatomy books are not kidding! The cervical spine really does swoop through the middle of your horse’s neck. (Stand by your horse’s shoulder and take a long view up his neck. See that bulge about two-thirds down? Cup your palm over it. That’s C5 you've got there, the fifth of seven cervical vertebrae that comprise the spine of your horse’s neck. Ta da!)
We know that a comprehensive and accurate understanding of our horse’s anatomy requires more than books, binders, or a lifetime or two in the barn. It requires our thoughtful integration of the information we encounter and seek, as well as a humble reckoning with assumption and fact. Above all, the ongoing quest for understanding seems to require community–sharing, discussing, and listening between people who love and strive to know more about horses, for the benefit of the horses themselves.
In that spirit, I'm curious to know the sources you consult when challenging yourself to better understand and serve your horse. What books, videos, and trainers? What are your favorite horsey infographics, Facebook pages, or websites? Please post them! I'd love to gather an HHH-client-approved list of educational resources.
For you, here's one of my favorite photosets on the internet. It's a collaboration between Manolo Mendez Dressage and Debranne Pattillo of Equinology INC. Their model "Clint" brings Pattillo's famed "Painted Horse" technique to life, and the overlay of bones along Clint's painted form illustrates the dimensionality of the horse within. Awesome.
Okay, your turn! Thank you to my clients, Griffin and Tesla, for today's inspiration to share.