Equine Massage & Equine Stretching
Massaging and stretching your horse offers many benefits. Equine Massage is not a standalone technique, but rather it is used along with conventional and complementary health care, proper assessment and proper training techniques, to allow your horse to perform at its optimum level. Equine Stretching is part of the equine massage and is incorporated during the massage routine.
The horse massage and stretching program is specifically tailored to your horse and based on initial assessment. Some horses need more massaging and stretching while others only need basic maintenance. Before we begin to work on your horse we perform an initial assessment, which includes gate evaluation, saddle fit (as applicable), shoeing, dental and overall muscular development. This first session can take from 1 hour to 2 hours depending on the individual case. The average length for massage and stretching session is generally 1 hour.
How can massage and stretching help your horse?
Improving your horse’s stamina
Massage and stretching increases your horses range of motion allowing it to improve its performance and stamina. The better the stamina, the better the balance, resulting in better executed exercises no matter what discipline.
Improving your horse’s disposition
Some horses will not complain and not show discomfort, but others may react to being in discomfort by changing their disposition to an aggressive stands. When asked to do certain exercises, they may refuse to execute or during saddling appear more discontent. Even just being in their stalls, they may behave differently towards their handler. Sometimes we miss the subtle communication of our horses trying to tell us that something is not right. Eliminating discomfort and restoring good health will improve the horse’s disposition.
Providing comfort to muscle injuries
Assisting with massage on existing cases under veterinary care or as part of a rehabilitation program can increase the rate of the healing process. Appropriate time for healing has to be allowed. Horse massage and stretching coupled with the proper exercise will help the process along. Scar tissue will lay down in a better pattern and reducing it as it adheres onto healthy tissue can help restore muscle to a better returning function.
Enhancement of performance and gait quality
Performance and gait quality is directly related to stamina, disposition and range of motion. Just like any athlete, the better condition we are in with well balanced muscular development, the harder we can push to get to the next level, build on this good foundation or simply maintain the best condition possible.
Horse massage gets your horses circulation going, which helps to eliminate waste products in its system. Exercise is generally the best way to increase circulation, but some horses while recovering from injury or illness need help to stimulate the circulation with massage and stretching exercises.
Increasing the range of motion
A short proper horse massage and stretching before exercise can help your horse to be more efficient in his stride; hence, increase its range of motion. The better the horse is able to move, the less wear and tear it will have on joints, ligaments and tendons which equates to a longer performance life.
Reducing tactile defense
Massage and stretching exercises will reduce the horse’s defense and it becomes more excepting to being worked with. Massage and stretching makes the animal feel good and they respond positively and more tense animals become more excepting of being handled. I have worked on many horses who at first are reluctant to be touched everywhere, but quickly come around once they realize it is non-threatening and makes them feel good.
Assessing the physical condition
Many horses, just like people are not fully symmetrical. Asymmetry often leads to a muscle development, which has to support the asymmetry. What does this mean? In short, muscles have to compensate for their less developed counterparts; hence, one side may be stronger build as compared to the other, meaning, increased muscle development on one side leading to asymmetry. Part of the assessment is saddle evaluation, saddle fit, proper shoeing and break-over point, dental issues as these contribute to many muscular problems horses can develop. Owners, Trainers, Veterinarians, Farriers and others in contact with the animal may not notice the subtle changes at the beginning. The Practitioners hands can feel subtle changes in texture, temperature and tension during a bodywork session, including the horse’s response to the touch.
We Train the Trainer and Owner
We love to give you the tools and teach you how to do stretching when we are not around. Stretching of your horse before exercise can help it to be more efficient in its stride and reduce “warm-up” time or help relax after finishing an exercise routine. This approach has been helpful for horses competing in dressage and jumping and other disciplines to help warm up and improve recovery time.
Massage and Stretching is not a substitute for proper veterinary medical care, but rather serves as a compliment. If your horse is ill or injured, seek appropriate medical attention from a qualified veterinary practitioner.