by Sandi Martinez and Lisa Speaker
Maybe your horse is exhibiting signs of exhaustion, and low energy from years of riding, or tack that wasn’t quite the right fit? Perhaps your horse was wearing the wrong shoes? Your horse may be suffering from soreness, lameness, or isn’t performing like they normally do. You’ve noticed unusual changes in their behavior. Many of these and other reasons might lead you to consider a series of massage therapy sessions for your horse, and whether or not, it is ultimately beneficial.
So, what kinds of massage are performed on horses? Your horse will not ‘just get a massage’, when the equine massage therapist shows up at your barn. A professional, experienced therapist will begin with an over-all assessment of the horse’s body before they start a massage session. The therapist will observe its physical overall form, movements, posture, and more. Once the therapist has completed a full evaluation of the horse, a series of sessions including bodywork and stretching exercises will be integrated into the program designed for your horse. The horse massage therapist may use acupressure points, (using fingers instead of needles) when they are massaging your horse. Depending on the therapists training, other methods may include, deep tissue, light, heat, essential oils, energy work, and other forms of healing touch.
Some therapists will request or require your presence. The presence of the trainer or owner is highly recommended. You will be able to see how the therapist works with your horse, and also how your horse reacts to the therapy sessions. This is also a good opportunity to ask questions!
Expectations of the outcome of the massage sessions should be discussed in full detail. The results can sometimes be dramatic after the first session. For some horses, the results won’t be obvious until after a few days, or group of sessions. As the therapy sessions advance, some benefits you can usually expect to see are relaxation, improved performance and disposition, a better stride and increased willingness. Always request a post-massage evaluation report as this is a good way to track the benefits of massage for your horse, and plan for future massage sessions.