I’m super excited to welcome my friend, Carol Grant, to the farmhouse kitchen this week.
Carol is an Equine Massage and Bodywork Therapist and also a holder of the British Horse Society Assistant Instructor Certificate. She lives in Saffron Walden with her partner James, teenage children Archie and Milly, Coco the terrier and Onion the Border Collie. She owns two horses and two retired ponies.
That sounds like a busy life! So a big thank you to Carol for taking time out of her hectic schedule to come and chat to us about horses, healing and hotpod yoga!
I’ll warm the hot cross buns while the rest of you read and enjoy.
For the Love of Horses
I am writing this as I approach my first anniversary as ‘Carol Grant – Equine Massage and Bodywork Therapist’. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my journey over the last 12 months. Just over a year ago I attended my first yoga class. Now it wasn’t any old yoga class it was Hotpod yoga! The class takes place in an inflated pod heated to 37 degrees with low-level lighting. Even after just one class I felt amazing, it had such a profound affect on my health and wellbeing that I wondered how something similar could be of benefit to the horses in my life.
At this point I had worked in sales for five years and was ready to try something new so I handed in my notice and bravely embarked on a number of training courses resulting in qualifications in Equine Massage and Bodywork. A year on and I treat between 2 and 6 horses every day and I have treated well over 100 horses in and around North Essex.
I have had a lifelong love of horses as I was extremely lucky as a child to get my first pony at the age of 10. She was a New Forest Pony called Flash also 10 years old and together we shared our many adventures until we were 32 when she was put to sleep in my arms. She was the first horse I loved and there have been many more over the years.
This love of horses remains and has in fact been strengthened by working with so many different horses. I generally have two types of clients, some that I see on a very regular basis every four weeks or so and others that will call me in when their equine doesn’t feel quite right. I always get great results with the horses I see occasionally, but I get far better results with my regulars. When I treat a horse I respond to subtle clues such as a change in breathing, eye shape, blinking, head nodding, chewing, swallowing and yawning. If I see a horse on a regular basis they begin to open up to me much quicker and will often show me what’s wrong.
For example one of my very first clients was Alfie. Now Alfie is a very handsome Irish Sports Horse who is accomplished when it comes to dressage. This season he will be competing with his owner Tracy at Medium Level and has already shown his face at the regional championships. To begin with Alfie was slightly aloof with me but as time went on he began to trust me and soon I found when I arrived to treat him he would present to me whichever part of his body that was sore. He would also yawn when he saw me in anticipation of the release that was about to happen. Sometimes this yawning will be non-stop throughout the treatment. I swear if I asked him to jump up onto a treatment table he would!
Then there is Mabel, now, without a doubt, Mabel is a Princess. Mabel is an Eventer and with fingers crossed she will climb the ranks and compete in a 1-star event before the end of the season. When I treat horses I get to know them and get a picture of their personality. As mentioned before Alfie has a touch of the Irish rogue about him, he is a gentleman but there is a naughty roguish side to him as well. Mabel, however, is beautiful, she’s leggy and lean with a coquettish look in her eye. She is extremely talented and she knows it, we have made friends over time and now she allows me to work on her and does lots of yawning when she thinks I’m not looking.
Another one of my talented regulars is schoolmaster pony club pony ‘Super Sid’. He is worth his weight in gold. Whilst the wrong side of 20 Sid has been there, done it, got the t-shirt several times over. He is talented and wise and is showing his current rider the ropes, giving her the most invaluable training only these wonderful older horses can. Whilst not a push button ride when the right buttons are pushed he performs to the best of his ability. He certainly enjoys his sessions with me and as I would expect is always textbook in his responses.
Charlie is a gorgeous cob who was originally Sid’s stablemate, he then was sold to one of my clients who had very sadly lost her pony in a freak accident. Ponies like Charlie are sometimes overlooked, in my eyes he’s gorgeous but others may see a slightly tubby hairy piebald cob. However he is brilliant and will turn his hand to anything; dressage, showjumping, cross country and more. He will never be a world beater but he will try his heart out and god forbid you should fall off he would be mortified. If he were human I would imagine him as a slightly portly gentlemen with a kind heart who will always be first in line to open a door for you. When his owner gets married later this year Charlie will be in attendance with a garland of flowers round his neck.
Turpin was the first horse I saw that had to wear a muzzle when being treated as he is a prolific biter. He is a very tricky horse to handle and on my first visit I struggled to touch much beyond his neck and shoulders without him rearing or bashing me with his muzzled nose. Luckily his owners were impressed with how I handled him and by his third treatment he was unmuzzled and totally relaxed allowing me to work through his whole body. Once he understood I wasn’t going to force him to do something he didn’t want to he relaxed. With horses like him who have a lot of anxiety you just need to let them know you are in charge of the situation and they have nothing to worry about. Horses like Turpin are sometimes the most rewarding as they are so difficult to get through to.
So I’m a year in and I still go to yoga three times a week, I love my job and can’t help but fall a little bit in love with every horse I treat.