Thursday, 30 July 2009

Massage benefits

One of the first things I do in the morning is a set of stretching exercises.  I find this helps keep my back strong and my joints supple.  I am usually a bit stiff in my joints first thing in the morning, so it is useful to try and ease this out straight away. 

This morning I had a surprise.  I went into the leg stretch posture – one leg extended and straight, the other bent tightly with the sole of my foot into my thigh, leaning over to reach for my toes.  Usually on the right side I can grab my big toe fairly easily, while on the left side it is a bit more of a struggle but I usually make it in the end.  This morning I stretched across in this posture and found that I could put both my hands right around my foot easily on each side.  Moving to the neck stretches, I discovered that I could turn my neck round much farther than I could previously – or have been able to for quite a while.  This improvement manifested throughout all my stretches.

I can only assume that this benefit is because of the Equissage massage I had yesterday as part of the demo.  I am amazed.  If Red has been feeling this much benefit today from his massage—which was much longer and deeper than mine—I should think he's been skipping round the field like a colt!

At the risk of sounding like an advertisement... if this continues with regular use of the Equissage massager, I will be most satisfied and feel that it was well worth the money.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


I never had my ride last Friday because I started to feel ill on Wednesday evening.  Sigh...  It has been a strange illness – never really developing but staying in my head so I feel a bit top-heavy and off balance.  I think it is probably something like a sinus infection rather than a cold.  I rested up for a few days, but it didn't really seem to help, so I'm just getting on with things as usual now and putting up with feeling a bit odd.

Today Red was booked for a massage.  I was offered this free massage demonstration after entering—but not winning—a competition to win the massage equipment.  It was difficult to decide which horse to give the free session, but decided on Red in the end.  He tends to be rather stiff in his hind quarters and he works more than Dee.

The Equissage massage was quite impressive, and the 'before' and 'after' rides were noticeably different.  Red was reluctant to stay out on the left rein during the 'before' ride and could not give me any flexion.  On the 'after' ride he was staying out without being asked and giving me a good bend.  In fact I felt quite disorientated having him staying out so well on the left rein because both he and Dee are usually hard work to achieve this.  He really enjoyed the massage and was so snuggly and affectionate during it.

The demonstrator did one side of Red's body and I gave him the treatment the other side.  Fortunately having trained as a reflexologist I understood the principles of the treatment and quickly picked up the technique.  I particularly liked that the device has a rubber attachment for working on bony areas so that it was comfortable for him on his legs.  To find out how it felt, I was also given a massage over my back and shoulders, and shown how the unit could be used on my knees.  I think the version of the equipment that is put on like a saddle and left to run automatically would be the most convenient way to regularly massage a horse, but that was nearly twice the cost of the hand-held unit.

So... did you guess... yes I bought one of their hand-held massage devices – for a frightening amount of money.  I haven't told 'ö-Dzin how much it cost!  To try and offset the cost a little I am hoping to offer my services to massage other people's horses with it once I have a little more experience, so if you are a local reader and want an Equissage massage for your horse do get in touch.

I didn't manage to take any photographs today, so I thought you might like to see these caligraphies crafted by my teacher, Ngak'chang Rinpoche.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Attractive chaos

For once chaos is manifesting in an attractive form rather than a form to which I am averse or indifferent.  I rode Red this morning; my Mum has been moved to the Sroke Rehabilitation Unit; my elder son has moved into the house and work is nearly complete; and 42 copies of the book I have been helping prepare for publication arrived.

The book looks perfect – and is more than a month ahead of its deadline.  It is called Moving Being and has been written by my Lama, Khandro Déchen.  It is a manual of sKu-mNyé – a form of Tibetan yoga.  To have a look at it go to the Aro Books worldwide marketplace.

Mum is off the general medicine ward and in a special unit for people recovering from strokes.  She will receive a lot of physio- and occupational therapy in preparation for her going home.  Her speech is much improved, but she is still having some problems with swallowing and her vision is not quite right.  This move is good news however and it will be less boring and more stimulating for her.

Daniel is settling in well in the upstairs half of the house we have been renovating.  The kitchen is now equipped and he is getting along fine with it.  He is still rather surrounded by boxes, but I'm sure he will soon sort himself out.

I rode with a couple of Briwnant friends and Red was happy to be out with his mates, Thomas and Falcon.  I would have to say that he was perfect today.  He rode at the back, in the middle and at the front for parts of the ride and was happy wherever he was.  He was forward going and responded well to leg aids.  He only tried to stop and eat a couple of times and walked on promptly when asked.  It was a gentle ride with a little trotting and just a few short canters, which suited me as I have not been able to ride for a couple of weeks.  Red is such a good boy.  He's looking the roundest I have seen him look since I first bought him—when he was a bit too round—and is like a comfortable armchair to ride.  I believe horses need to have a bit of roundness about them by the end of the summer if they are going to live out at pasture through the winter, but I shall have to make sure he doesn't get any bigger.  He was puffing a bit up some of the steep hills on the Wenallt trail – but then so would I be if I had to climb them.

On Friday I am going to join a hack where a riding school client will be riding Red, so this will be a nice opportunity to take Dee out – and to see how Red behaves while being worked.

It's now nearly time to go and visit Mum.  I must enjoy the relaxation of life running a little smoothly and more easily at the moment, without trying to grasp at it, secure it and make it a reference point.  It's important to embrace and enjoy aversion and indifference as well.  There is always something to appreciate.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Pasture or stabling...?

We spent a lovely morning with the horses today.  We did not ride because the weather is so unsettled: one minute the sun is shining and the next there is torrential rain.  Instead we just groomed them and hung out with them for a while.  Dee is looking rather round – not so surprising with this perfect warm and wet grass-growing weather.  Red was sleepy and relaxed – closing his eyes and letting his bottom lip droop as 'ö-Dzin brushed his tail and I stroked his face.  Then Dee would indicate that it was her turn for a bit more TLC and I'd have to return to her stable to fuss her some more.

I still find it surprising how little mud they have on them even though they are out at pasture in all weather.  At Wyndham they would get ridiculously muddy – it could take an hour to get it out of their coat, and Red would usually have thick clods of mud up to his knees.  I think it was because of the routine at Wyndham that they were stabled for part of every day.  They all knew would be fed when they were brought in, so they all used to congregate around that time, which meant that the area by the gates became like a quagmire and they would all hang around there for quite a while.  At Briwnant they also get a feed if they are brought in, but this does not happen at the same time everyday or even everyday, so they do not hang around the gates in the same way, churning up the mud.

Different yards have different approaches and each have their benefits and drawbacks.  Personally for my lifestyle, and for the irregularity of the work I ask of my horses, it is better that they can be at pasture.  Dee has been living at pasture now for seven months—including her sojourn in Cornwall—and is noticeably fitter than she was when she lived at Wyndham.  I believe this is because she can move all day as she grazes and have a gallop around two or more large fields a couple of times a day with the other horses, rather than being static for half the day or more in a stable.  I simply have too complicated a life to be able to guarantee riding each of my horses several times a week, which is essential to keep them fit when they are stabled a lot, so the style of livery at Briwnant suits us all very well.

PS I have started a new blog about our adventures in Bertie, our new motorhome (well old actually).  It is called Transport of Delight.  I still occasionally muse that we should have bought a horse truck instead...

Friday, 17 July 2009

It never rains but it pours

I had been expected life to be back to something more resembling normality this week as most of the work on the house is finished.  However it never rains but it pours and my life has been thrown into more chaos again because sadly my mother has suffered a stroke.

She is doing well and fortunately it was only a mild stoke, but even so she will be in hospital for a while.  I've been all at sixes and sevens this week and feeling so exhausted, but I am starting to sort myself out and am getting organised around the daily visits to the hospital.

It is such a relief that the horses are where they are and I know they are out in the pasture and well looked after.  We are hoping to spend some time with them on Sunday – and maybe even ride!

Tomorrow we are moving our elder son into the house.  I hope he will be very happy there – and I can start to sort my house out!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Trying to keep cool

It is unusually hot here in Wales, and also very humid. Humidity was 65% today. This means that even the slightest exertion makes one sweat.

The horses are now down in the bottom pastures to allow the other fields to rest. We were not aware of this the first time we visited after their move and walked all the way across to the far field where we were used to them grazing – but no horses!

Eventually we found them all standing under the hawthorn trees. Our two are not in this first group because they are among the group on the other side of the shrubs. They seem to like the hawthorn – even though they can get some nasty scratches from it. It may be just that it is shady there, though we were wondering if the flies did not like this plant and so did not bother them so much when they stood there.

I went up to ride on Wednesday with my younger son, Richard. But by the time we had groomed them we were too sweaty and exhausted to ride. The horses were also already quite sweaty, just standing being groomed. It would have seemed unkind to put saddle pads and saddles on them and make them walk out in this humid heat. So we left them to it. We shall have to ride earlier or later in the day while this heat wave lasts – though it 11.30 pm as I write this and it is still too hot!