FEBRUARY 2020 THE RIDER /33 From the Corporate Life to Hands-on Horse Woman

Guelph, ON Dec,11,2019 - Bitten by the horse bug as a city kid growing up in Mis- sissauga, Marguerite Old struggled to find ways to pursue her inexplicable, in- nate passion for equines. The unshakable desire to be involved with horses has led her down a path of lifelong learning to become a Regis- tered Equine Massage Ther- apist, starting her own business, Equine Edge Mas- sage Therapy, in 2010. Just 15 minutes from Woodbine racetrack, Marguerite has had her hands on some im- pressive winning athletes. She attributes a good part of her success to continually updating her skills, first through D’al School of Equine Massage therapy and now with online studies at Equine Guelph. “I have always had a

love for horses,” said Mar- guerite, “Equine Massage is a hard job but it’s so reward- ing.” Not everyone gets to combine their passion with their occupation. Marguerite has had the pleasure of being part of the support team for Queen’s Plate win-

ners, Sovereign Award Champions, and Breeder’s Cup World Champion par- ticipants. Inglorious, Amis Gizmo, Amis Mesa and Melmich are just a few of the notable horses Mar- guerite has had a hand in helping. It was not always this

way for Marguerite as her initial career started out as an administrative/executive assistant for a pharmaceuti- cal company. She was drawn to horses as a child and rode whenever she could. As a teen, the oppor- tunity for exposure to the racing industry presented it- self when her family pur- chased a

cottage trained. in

Kincardine, which backed onto the local fairgrounds where


Standardbreds kept

showing up, and the trainer, noticing that she was keen, started giving her odd jobs and soon she was harness- ing, grooming and travelling to the races like a pro. As an adult, with far

fewer opportunities to en- gage in equine activity in

the city, Marguerite found herself doing well in her corporate role but some- thing was missing. In her 30’s, and recently married, Marguerite found her way back to horses with the en- couragement of her husband who cheered her on to fulfill her passions. “Follow your bliss,” he said and the deci- sion to go back to school was made! Since earning her designation as an REMT with the International Feder- ation of Registered Equine Massage Therapists she has not looked back! Currently, Marguerite

is avidly working towards her Diploma in Equine Studies with the University of Guelph. “When racing season starts up, it is all go, but in the off season I’m back to learning as much as I can about horses,” says Old.

“What I love about

the Equine Guelph’s online courses is that I can take one topic at a time and can really focus on getting an in-depth education.” Marguerite is then

quick to share that knowl-

edge with her clients. After all, sharing is caring, and when your explanations are backed by science, it cer- tainly

builds trust.

“Guelph’s courses, have given me a great deal of confidence,” Marguerite states, “You can always be a better horse person.” Marguerite credits her

deeper understanding of stereotypies to the Equine Behaviour course and in the Equine Exercise Physiology course, Old found no short- age of knowledge she could apply on the job. In fact, as part of the course’s major assignment, Marguerite reached out and gained the opportunity to work with forward thinking, thorough- bred trainer Dave Bell and his partner and exercise rider Val Topp. Throughout the assignment, Marguerite measured the training gains of thoroughbred racehorse, Marten River. When talking to oth-

ers looking to make the tran- sition to horse industry pro or to those just looking to become more involved with horses, Marguerite says,

Marguerite Old and Marten River. Photo Credit: David Bell

“Just do it! Take Equine Guelph’s management course first because it is worth its weight in gold. Get involved, there are so many ways to make the knowl- edge gained in these courses work for you!” Where could Equine

Guelph online courses take you? Next session begins January 2020. Early bird

deals until Dec 13!

About Equine Guelph: Equine Guelph is the

horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the Univer- sity of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership ded- icated to the health and well-being of horses, sup- ported and overseen by equine industry groups.

Equine Guelph is the epi- centre for academia, indus- try and government - for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further in- formation,


Story by: Jackie Bellamy- Zions

The Science of how Horses Think & Learn When experienced riders become stuck in a rut.

When experience becomes a rut. A colleague of mine recently called the worn path

around the outside of an arena the “idiot ditch”. Ok, some- what harsh, but I had to chuckle. Riding the rut doesn’t stretch riders to make guiding adjustments or challenge our aids and timing, but it doesn’t involve risk ether. Doing the same thing over and expecting a different

result may count as experience, but experience alone re- sults in a rut. Some riders continue to repeat their novice years, not for lack of talent, but for lack of evaluation.

Problem solving – a rider’s responsibility. When things go wrong in the schooling ring or show ring, it’s my job as a rider or coach to pause, assess, and form a plan to solve the problem. Horses don’t analyze and assess – they instinctively react. Simply by comparing the anatomy of the human and equine brain, we see that horses lack in the area devoted to reasoning and thought processes such as analyzing and strategizing. Beautifully designed as graz- ing, prey animals, they don’t need the same ability to spec- ulate, (“What if?”), plan (“Next time I should…”), or analyze emotion (“sorry, I really overreacted…”).

By Lindsay Grice, Equine Canada certified coach and show judge.

What makes an experienced rider? “Experience is not the best teacher- only

evaluated experience is”. Wise words from pro- fessor and pastor, Dr. Howard Hendricks Horse club banquet season - the end of the

year is a time for reflection. What went well? What would I like to change? Heading into the next year of life, the next show season or riding lesson without evaluation will revisit mistakes like Netflix Auto-play! In 30 years of training and coaching, I’ve

gained a “wealth” of stories and experiences with horses, horse shows and horse-people. But expe- rience’s value is diminished if I fail to take stock - evaluate, educate myself and evolve. If I’ve not changed my mind and modified my methods in the last 10 years, I’m stuck in a rut.

Ask questions. “Is it me or my horse?” Riders often ask me this question. In riding and showing horses, we’re al- ways solving puzzles – searching for the source , not just the fix of a behaviour issue, gait abnormality or rider weakness. I want to find the key to the puzzle. So I eval- uate – what has worked before? What facts do I know about equine learning? Is there another approach?

Get the facts. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not muck around with speculation. I want to sift through the anecdotes and get to the credible evidence . To separate the truth from what someone thinks is true or what I hope might be true. Which solution has the track record of success with

multiple horses time after time? Is there research to back up the theory? Is it a lasting solution or a quick fix?

Practice makes perfect. And that includes practicing mis- takes! “In almost all training, situations, the most effec- tive way to “delete” behaviours is to prevent them from being expressed.” Dr. Andrew Mclean.

Riding the rut doesn’t stretch riders to make guiding adjustments or challenge their aids and timing, but it doesn’t involve risk ether.

Practice the tough stuff.We gravitate toward doing things that come eas- ily, avoiding those which stretch us. And particularly when others are watch- ing. Trotting around an oval in an arena won’t yield the same dividends as asking your horse the tougher questions - specific lines, tighter turns or tricky transitions at designated points.

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates.

in equine behaviour. After 25 years as a competitor and horse trainer, Lindsay enjoys teaching clinics and travelling to Ontario farms as a freelance instruc- tor. She’s taught the science of equine behaviour and learning for horse as- sociations, courses for University of Guelph and therapeutic riding facilities. Lindsay judges many disciplines and breeds and serves on an EC judg-

About Lindsay Grice. A horse show judge and certified riding coach with a special interest

ing committee

Why do horses do what they do? “In the horse world, our traditions and evidence sometimes collide – I love to help riders solve their horse puzzles with logic, patience and equitation science.”


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