Story by: Jackie Bellamy Zions
Bitten by the horse bug as a city kid growing up in Mississauga, Marguerite Old struggled to find ways to pursue her inexplicable, innate passion for equines. The unshakable desire to be involved with horses has led her down a path of lifelong learning to become a Registered Equine Massage Therapist, starting her own business, Equine Edge Massage Therapy, in 2010. Just 15 minutes from Woodbine racetrack, Marguerite has had her hands on some impressive 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 Marguerite, “Equine Massage is a hard job but it’s so rewarding.” 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 winners, Sovereign Award Champions, and Breeder’s Cup World Champion participants. Inglorious, Amis Gizmo, Amis Mesa and Melmich are just a few of the notable horses Marguerite 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 pharmaceutical company. She was drawn to horses as a child and rode whenever she could. As a teen, the opportunity for exposure to the racing industry presented itself when her family purchased a cottage in Kincardine, which backed onto the local fairgrounds where Standardbreds trained.
Marguerite kept showing up, and the trainer, noticing that she was keen, started giving her odd jobs and soon she was harnessing, grooming and travelling to the races like a pro.
As an adult, with far fewer opportunities to engage in equine activity in the city, Marguerite found herself doing well in her corporate role but something was missing. In her 30s, and recently married, Marguerite found her way back to horses with the encouragement of her husband who cheered her on to fulfill her passions. “Follow your bliss,” he said and the decision to go back to school was made! Since earning her designation as an REMT with the International Federation 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 knowledge with her clients. After all, sharing is caring, and when your explanations are backed by science, it certainly 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 Behavior course and in the Equine Exercise Physiology course, Old found no shortage 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, thoroughbred 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 others looking to make the transition to horse industry pro or to those just looking to become more involved with horses, Marguerite says, “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 knowledge gained in these courses work for you!”
Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit EquineGuelph.ca.
Open Learning and Educational Support provides expertise and leadership to the University of Guelph community and our partners in the following: the scholarship and practice of teaching, technology-enhanced education, open learning and professional development. We provide support for teaching and learning that is evidence-based, responsive, developmental and based on best practices.