What is Massage Therapy?
Massage is the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body including muscles, fascia, tendons, and ligaments.
What are the Benefits of Massage?
Consider that a horse’s body is made up of 60% muscle. Due to the physical and mental demands we put on our horses from trail riding, endurance, jumping, barrel racing, dressage, roping, and many other equine sports and activities - many horses suffer from performance limiting muscular and biomechanical problems and tension.
Equine massage therapy enhances tone, relieves muscular tension, increases range of motion, reduction of soreness and fatigue, assists in balancing the body as a whole, reduces inflammation and swelling in the joints, reduction of trigger point formation, helps to alleviate pain, stimulates blood circulation, performance improvement, relieving colic and intestinal gas, stimulation of digestion, promotion of relaxation, strengthening of respiratory muscles, increasing fluid discharge from the lungs, improvement of pulmonary function, promotion of lymph circulation, and helps to release endorphins (natural pain killers). The main benefit is no harmful side effects like that can occur with certain medications.
What are the Signs of Possible Muscular Pain, Restrictions and Soreness in a Horse?
Horses let us know when something is wrong with physical communication. Each horse is different so knowing your horse helps to determine when they are trying to tell you something. Generally, as the owner you know your horse better than anyone….Go with your instincts if you feel your horse if off. You will usually see signs that are not normal behavior. Below is a list, but are not limited to:
- Shortened strides, restricted range of motion
- Decreased coordination or balance
- General decline in the horse’s performance
- Not picking up the correct canter lead
- Poor disposition or attitude
- Crow hopping, bucking, rearing
- Hollowing back, raising head, throwing head during gait changes
- Trouble bending in one direction
- Head tossing
- General behavioral issues (biting, unwillingness to be ridden/saddled, etc.)
******Please note massage/muscle therapy is NOT a substitute for proper veterinary care. Please call your veterinarian first if your horse appears lame, neurologic, or in pain.******