Behind the Tack Room Door
If you don’t know Cheryl Morgan I highly recommend you get to know her. She is one very accomplished Dressage Rider, Dental Hygienist, Wife, Mother and Equine Massage Therapist. Quite frankly I don’t know how she does it all, but let’s go back to when it all started. Cheryl’s love of horses started when she was 11 on a swaybacked rescue pony that she leased in exchange for cleaning stalls. Fast forward a decade and she found herself riding an OTTB who had an extremely sore back. He exhibited all the signs of the classic “cold back” syndrome. She recalls, he was labelled as naughty, but she knew he wasn’t bad by nature. Her gut told her he was uncomfortable and in pain. Not giving up on him she researched online and found some sites on equine massage therapy. What she learned online she started applying to him. He started to improve; he became happy to jump and stopped bucking! Cheryl never said this but I am sure that particular OTTB helped her develop her now strong dressage seat. One thing I notice about Cheryl, when I see her ride, is her ability to always be sitting in the middle of her horse – no matter what her horse seems to be doing under her – but more on this later. All that research online led her to a certification program in Loveland, Colorado. Cheryl has now been practicing equine massage for 20 years and loving it! One of the most frequent issues she encounters in her practice is asymmetry in the horse’s top-lines. Bending from left to right is not always the same and tension is common through the poll, neck, shoulders, back and hindquarters. Cheryl goes on to explain this tension can cause compensation throughout the horse. The horse may start to take a shorter stride with one limb, they may become crocked or they may brace through their back.
There are over 700 skeletal muscles in the horse and I get the impression Cheryl could name every one of them. I know for a fact Ferro would like each one massaged when Cheryl shows up for his appointment. It amazes me as she works her way over his body and points out areas where he is stiff or tight, he always confirms what she suspects by stretching his neck out or looking at the exact spot she is massaging. If he could talk I know he would be saying “Yes, right there! That is the spot!” For most horses the highlight of the massage session is the carrot stretch at the end. Cheryl is very good at ensuring the owners gain some knowledge as well during her visits. She gives you homework to do with your horse to keep up with the stretching and continuing to improve your horse’s flexibility.
Over this past year, when Cheryl was not taking care of client’s horses she had the opportunity to work with a young dressage prospect named Faberge LS (Grace) owned by Christine and Sheryl Williams. Under Sheryl’s watchful eye, Grace and Cheryl blossomed into a spectacular partnership. It was only their first year out in the show ring together and they scored consistently in the 70s. Cheryl describes Grace as a big cuddly puppy that can turn on a dime – remember that strong dressage seat I mentioned earlier – well, Cheryl is right there in balance at all times. She never seems to get flustered or unseated giving young horses all the confidence they need to succeed. The highlight of the year for Cheryl was riding with Stephen Clarke. Cheryl looks forward to watching Grace debut at First Level as she hands the reins back over to Sheryl Williams.
And if you are wondering where to find Cheryl when she is not massaging, riding or dental assisting – well that is easy, she would be having a glass of wine with her Bestie watching The Black Stallion.
It is easy to get a hold of Cheryl, just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your horse will love ❤ you for it!