Equine Message Therapy
Equine massage therapy is a very safe, non-invasive type of therapy. It is even safe enough to be used on pregnant mares and foals and can benefit most any horse. Massage therapy involves learning the horse's skeletal and muscular systems. In includes kinesiology, the study of movement and the parts of the body that are responsible for a specific motion, as well as the relevant safety and ethical issues. It is not something that a person can learn in a few hours or a day.
There are a number of benefits to equine massage, both physical & psychological.
The benefits include increasing the horse's range of motion, increasing circulation, improving digestion, decreasing muscle recovery time after exertion, improving the animal's disposition, and improving the horse-human bond.
I'd like to elaborate a little on what increased circulation means for your horse. By increasing circulation, the amount of nutrients that the bloodstream carries to muscles is increased. And at the same time as circulation is increased, waste products in the muscle tissue, such as toxins and excess fluid are removed at a greater rate.
In addition to increased circulation and its accompanying benefits, massage therapy addresses muscle problems, such as stress points, muscle spasms, and trigger points which interfere w/a horse's movement. Some of the ways these movement problems manifest are uneven hips, head bobbing, stumbling, bucking, being short strided, to name a few. People sometimes think their horse is being stubborn when it could be due to muscle problems such as tension, spasms, even scar tissue or adhesions from past injuries.
The body is always striving to maintain homeostasis, to heal, repair and maintain itself, from the cellular level on up to the complex systems within the body. In order for this to occur the proper conditions need to be present. Massage therapy assists the body in getting back to a state of health. When this happens, the horse is more resilient. When a horse feels better and moves more freely and without pain, it performs better!
Massage therapy is not a substitute for veterinary care for your horse, but a great way to enhance their horse's performance, well being, and overall quality of life. If people give it a chance they will see results!
It is amazing how much massage therapy benefits horse psychologically. Even horses that have experienced severe abuse. Horses are affected both physically & mentally by how they are trained, treated, and handled. When they are abused they loose their ability to trust people and to interact with people in a relaxed manner. Massage therapy is effective in strengthening the horse/human bond. Touch is a very powerful form of communication, especially for social animals, such as the horse. Massage therapy tells the horse that humans can be trusted, that there is good touch, and that a good relationship with a person is possible. In this way, massage therapy can play powerful role in an abused/neglected horse's healing and rehabilitation.
Massage therapy also can improve a horse's disposition. Just as in people, the mind and body are interconnected. In order for a horse to function at its best it needs to be balanced and healthy, both physically & mentally.
The most common misconception is that this type of therapy is frivolous pampering-that it is "spoiling" a horse. Massage therapy is at least 3,000 years old and offers benefits that have been documented. I liken it to regular maintenance on your care. Your car runs better and has fewer breakdowns if it is serviced regularly. What massage therapy does for horses is enhance their health and enable them to achieve more of their potential and perform better.