Equine massage courses focus on health of students
By Damon Arthur, Record Searchlight
June 8, 2004
Learning about yourself was not on the course outline. When Lisa Hartley saw Geary Whiting’s horse massage courses advertised online, she saw that they included classes on equine anatomy, technique, saddle fitting, and marketing.
There wasn’t anything on the syllabus about Eastern philosophy, passion, holistic health, or having a “zest for life.” Hartley traveled from her home in Mobile, Alabama to Whiting’s ranch in Douglas City anyway.
She was all set to learn horse massage. But during the course Hartley took last month she found out Whiting has a not-so-hidden agenda to get his students to examine their values, as well as their physical and emotional well-being.
OK. But what does finding yourself have to do with horse massage? Whiting said that his students need to straighten out their own priorities before they can heal an aching animal.
“If you are unsure of yourself, you cannot expect your horse to give in to you and have confidence in you,” Whiting said.
“A lot of people are disenchanted with their lives,” he said. “It is my job to put fire in their veins, put passion in their lives.”
He does that by taking up to six students at a time through five-day courses. The classes cost $1,300, which includes meals and lodging. During the week students live in cabins on his ranch situated along Reading Creek in the mountains of Trinity County.
Whiting said that there is plenty of demand for those who can massage performance horses, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Whiting’s course outline may not list classes on setting personal priorities, but it does include dinner on the town in Weaverville, two-hour lunches, campfire talks, and techniques on easing a headache.
Life slows down among the pines. Two-hour lunches are mandatory. Whiting has a hammock set up in the shade of the dogwoods for naps after lunch. If a student is using it he will fall asleep on a picnic table by the creek.
In addition to Hartley, who just finished up a course in human massage, the students in Whiting’s May class included a tax accountant and software consultant from Dallas, a lawyer who recently moved from New York City to Southern California, a nurse from Mount Shasta, and an 11-year-old girl from Cayucos.
Bennie Davidson of Mount Shasta said that she took a massage course prior to enrolling in Whiting's, but she was not happy with it.
Whiting’s course is “not just horse massage. It is a whole concept of living,” Davidson said.