What is equine massage?
Equine Massage is a form of physical therapy for the horse. We know that a body will strive to heal, repair and maintain itself – but the way we keep horses can prevent this. Massage and hands-on physical therapy can help redress the balance as part of a holistic approach to management and care.
Muscles that are tight or in a contracted state put pressure on surrounding tissues. This causes a decrease in blood circulation, restricted movement, nerve irritation and pain. If not relieved and loosened this tightness can cause more problems and will continue to worsen.
Equine Massage is specifically designed for the horse.
It is the manipulation of the soft tissues in a prescribed manner, utilising a variety of specific hand movements. Alex uses a variety of massage and manipulation techniques to help the horse either regain, or maintain optimum performance and comfort.
/image/ Tapotement — hacking
What can massage do for horses?
- Improved performance
- It contributes to relaxing the nervous system from stress
- Improved muscle and coat tone
- It can relax or stimulate as needed
- Improves joint and back mobility
- Contributes to damage prevention
- Improves circulation
- Can increase range of motion
- Helps dispel toxins and waste products, for a better metabolism
- Immediate recognition of changes with familiar horses e.g. swelling or heat.
- Quicker recovery from injuries
- Balances energy and moves on stagnant energy
- Increases our bonding with the horse
- Promotes certain constructive chemicals – dopamine and serotonin
When might your horse need massage?
A massage therapist is not a vet. and cannot offer any diagnosis or veterinary treatment. However, all horses can benefit from massage and physical therapy at any time. It may be that your horse will benefit in particular if you feel any of the following apply:
- Stiffness or pain, in the back
- He is competing or in other hard work
- Not enough turnout for some reason (box rest, lack of grazing etc)
- Recovering from illness or injury
- Your mare can sometimes be “hormonal” during her cycle
- Inability to canter on a particular lead, and obvious stiffness in that direction
- Tightness through jaw and poll/ tail held to one side
- Difficulty rounding through back, or in swaying through back
- Stiff neck, one side more developed than the other
- Suggested by your vet
Massage can also increase your bonding with your horse as well as help you recognise any changes BEFORE they might become an issue. Horses communicate by touch (as well as through body language) and massage can be a rewarding way of “talking” to your horse.
There are some safe and learnable methods that can be taught to the horse-owner — I have been running Massage Workshops since 2003. If you are interested in learning some basic techniques, you can attend one – details on the Demonstrations and Workshops page.