NOVEMBER - EFO Rider of the Month: Mary Hayes!
With the Royal all wrapped up and preparations for christmas underway, it is about time we announce our November EFO Rider of the Month.
This woman has been in the equestrian industry since she was a little girl. Developing her passion first undersaddle and then ambitiously pursuing a career as an Equine Massage Therapist . We are so honoured to have been able to chat and meet this amazing lady! Check-out what she had to say!
- How did you enter the Equestrian Industry?
It’s a bit of a fluke to be honest, I had a bad knee injury as a teen from playing sports and not really taking care of my body. I started going to physio and a few other modalities without too much success. My riding coach at the time started seeing a massage therapist and he ended up offering treatments at the farm where I boarded my horse so I started having massages with him. It was the first time in a few years that I had been pain-free and I started thinking, this would be cool if I could do this to horses! I ended up doing some research and found the program in London and moved from NS by myself as a 22-year-old, not a clue where this adventure would be taking me. I have since been practicing on horses for the past 7 years and on people for the past 6.
- What is your first memory you have with horses?
I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where there’s a lesson barn in the middle of the city. My mom used to drive me to daycare when I was about 4 or 5 years old and on the way, we would drive by this barn every day, the Halifax Junior Bengal Lancers, and I would be plastered against the car window watching these horses being ridden. I guess I started harassing my mom to let me ride, eventually she signed me up for lessons and the rest is history.
- Did you always know that you would be working with horses as a profession?
I’ve always known I’ve wanted to have horses in my life but I had no idea that I would end up making a career out of it by massaging them.
- You are a RMT for horses, tell us a little bit about your work!
I have a pretty incredible job, I get paid to spend time with horses and to make them feel better! It’s extremely rewarding and it also has taught me so much about horses outside of just riding and showing them. Horses are incredibly honest animals and are sometimes so much smarter than we are when it comes to their bodies and what they need. People always ask me if I ever get kicked or bitten and I answer, occasionally there are attempts but I have learned to realize that is how they are able to communicate with us, so instead of looking at that as a bad reaction I look at it as them telling me that the area I am working on is painful or I’m not using the right amount of pressure for them.
I mostly massage jumping or dressage horses, but I have a few western horses as well. My job also has me traveling around Ontario, which is also great because I get to see so many places I’ve never been before and so many beautiful barns.
- What does an average day look like for you?
I practice as a Registered Massage Therapist as well as a Registered Equine Massage Therapist, which means that I massage people and horses. An average day for me is massaging a few of my human clients, then heading to the barn to ride my horse and then either massaging a few horses or coming back home and massaging a few more people. I can’t say that my days are ever the same as the previous one, my schedule varies day to day and it’s pretty much like playing Tetris, trying to figure out where to fit everyone in.
- What are the most common challenges you face?
My biggest challenge is giving myself down time. It’s something that I’m really working on this year, having more ’self-care’ time. I’ve found with owning my own business, I’m solely responsible for my success in my career which tends to make me a bit of a work horse! I always like to be as available as possible to my client’s needs so I tend to put myself on the back burner. But this year, my mantra has been “2018 is the year of self-care!”
- Do you have any suggestions for young riders looking to enter the RMT field?
My biggest advice is to consider the education that you’re receiving from any program that you are researching. I went to D’arcy Lane, it’s a two-year program for equine massage therapy, and it’s the only program that allows you to write board exams to become registered. The program is tough and takes a lot of commitment but looking back, I wouldn’t have gone any other route. Starting up your business is hard as well because you are your own advertisement, so if you are someone that is disciplined and passionate, you will thrive in this career! It’s an incredibly rewarding job and I have had so many opportunities because of it.
- What are some of the most common challenges you face with your riding?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, which has it’s pro’s and con’s. I struggle with things not always going exactly as I have planned them in my head. I’m sure every rider can relate to that, we are riding these huge animals that have minds of their own. My horse has taught me a lot about accepting that things can’t always be perfect and that’s ok. I’ve had to learn that even when I set a goal for us, that he may chose a different way to accomplish it.
- If you could spend a day doing a different sport, what would it be?
Is it terrible that the only sport that keeps coming to mind is Polo? I’ve really wanted to learn how to play the last few years. If I really had to choose a non-horsey sport, I would play soccer, it’s my second passion.
- If you weren’t in the Equestrian Industry, what do you think you would be doing instead and why?
My answer to this question is totally weird, I recently have thought about this question a lot, I would want to be a coroner, I know, freaky! But I have a huge fascination with how the human body works, and equine as well. I was lucky enough when I was in school to be able to attend cadaver labs as well as a equine dissection and it really blew me away.
- What accomplishment are you most proud of within the Equestrian Industry? (Does not have to be based on show results) also, you have qualified for the Royal this year! What are you most excited for!
I think seeing all of my clients accomplish their own goals has been pretty amazing to watch. Seeing horses come back from injuries and getting back into the ring is really rewarding. Qualifying for the Royal this year is my other biggest accomplishment, it was a bit of a rollercoaster ride to get it done but it has been worth it.
I’m probably the most excited to eat all the food, haha. I love food, especially the Royal food. You’ll most likely find me in the food court eating perogies, a potato rosti or one those grilled cheeses from Angelstone.
- The most memorable horse which you have owned or ridden is _________ and why?
I think my most memorable horse would have to be my current horse, Kasey. I’ve had him for 12 years, which I never thought I would when I bought him. I’ve been able to do so much with him, from starting him in hunters as a 3-year-old, qualifying for the Royal when he was 5 in the Adults, switching over to the jumper ring, having another person show him in the equitation’s, being able to learn to do dressage with him. He’s allowed me to jump some of the biggest jumps I have ever jumped. He’s also taught me that I really enjoy being involved in every aspect of his care, from feeding, to shoeing, to his vet work and his training.
- What is the one thing you can never go to a horse-show without? (i.e. Lucky socks)
Food. lol. This is a random one, but I really like getting even numbers for my ring number. I literally have no idea why but it started as a kid.
- Do you have any horse-show rituals? (other than getting Tim’s at 4am)
I think my ritual would be listening to some pump-up music and singing to myself on the way to the show.
- What is your favourite post-horseshow thing to do? (i.e. relax with a glass of wine, unpack the trailer etc.)
I like unpacking everything and putting it away as soon as I get home and then having a bath and watching shows on Netflix.
- Does your horse have a favourite treat? If so, what is it?
He’s obsessed with carrots. He recently escaped from him stall, this is a common theme in his life, and he was found on the other side of the barn stealing carrots from another horse’s tack trunk. He had to walk through the smallest aisle to get to them too!
- What do you like to do when you manage to get some time off and away from the barn?
I really love live music and going to concerts. I probably go to a few every year. I also spend time playing rec soccer every week. I practice yoga and like spending time with friends.
- Describe your dream vacation (does not have to be horse related).
Well my dream vacation is somewhat in the works right now, I want to go backpacking in Thailand and volunteer at an elephant orphanage, this has been my dream for probably 10 years now!
- What are you most grateful for at your barn?
I’m grateful for the way my horse is cared for, he’s 15 now and has started to become more high maintenance and they do everything they can to accommodate his demands!
- Describe the funniest wardrobe malfunction that you have had when riding?
I was schooling at home over some jumps and I ripped the crotch seam of my breeches…. mooned a few people that day.
- What is your go-to late night snack?
My late-night snack would have to be pizza. I wish I could eat pizza for every meal.