A horse’s body is 60 percent muscle so it only makes sense that they can suffer from the same sort of muscle and joint aches and pains that humans experience. Similarly, just like a good massage can work wonders on the human body, equine massage therapy can make a big difference for the horse as well.
Equine massage therapy provides a number of benefits, including:
- Relieving muscle tension and spasms.
- Improving blood circulation, this in turn helps speed the healing of injuries.
- Improves muscle tone.
- Increases range of motion, performance and even endurance.
- Prevention of adhesions by lengthening connective tissue.
- Decreases joint pain by reducing swelling and inflammation
- Relaxes an calms the horse for examination by the vet, dentist or farrier
- Improve disposition since the pain or discomfort has been alleviated
While all horses benefit from regular equine massage therapy, there are certain signs that your horse will exhibit to let you know that massage is needed, including limping or lameness that can’t be explained, shortened stride, difficulty with lateral movements, head tossing and cold back syndrome. However, before jumping headlong into equine massage therapy, it’s always a good idea to have a vet examine the horse to rule out more serious health problems.
Equine massage therapy can be performed by hand, by hiring a professional masseuse, or by using a massage device. As you can imagine, giving a horse a massage by hand can be tiring work that may leave you in need of a massage yourself. Hiring a professional certified in equine massage therapy can be a pricey alternative. While the initial outlay for a quality equine massage device may seem expensive, it will quickly pay for itself.
A full-body massage device both manipulates the muscle tissue and provides soothing heat, which makes the equine massage therapy session much more effective. The combination of heat and massage has been found to increase muscle tone and strength, speed post-operative recovery, and even encourage older horses that have become stiff to put their little-used muscles back to work.
There are a number of leading horse trainers and riders that recommend using a full-body massager to deliver equine massage therapy, including Di Lampard, Nikki Barrett, Marie Burke, John Bowan and Robert Lemieux. Experts have found that just three to five minutes of equine massage therapy per muscle group – both before and after exercise – helps relieve tension in tight muscles and increase blood circulation to the areas receiving the massage. This in turn improves the horse’s performance, attitude or disposition, and helps restore free motion.