“Trying to earn the horse’s trust must always be one of the main training guidelines.”– Alois Podhajsky, the director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria as well as an Olympic medal-winner in dressage.
Trying to earn the horse’s trust must also be one of the main guidelines during massage and bodywork.
I hear a surprising number of stories from new clients about their horses’ negative experiences with former bodyworkers – how their horse was far more sore after their session, how their horse was forced to defend itself from their former bodyworker, becoming tense and agitated, wouldn’t be caught the next day, even sometimes kicking the bodyworker. And we’re not talking about wild, rough horses here, these are kind, gentle souls, regularly handled and in consistent exercise programs.
One of your main goals as a bodyworker should be to do develop a high level of trust between you and the horse you are working with. Please notice that I said “with” and not “on”. I want the horse to develop a trust that I am there to help it feel better, that it will be safe in my hands. Surely the owner will surely be more impressed by that than some fancy maneuver you want to try that shocks, irritates or hurts their animal.
Go slowly, let your horse understand where you’re working, what sort of touch you’re going to use, adapt to the horse in your hands, avoid surprises.
Horses want to feel better and they want to trust their people. Let them.