As in humans, massaging your horse can be a complimentary treatment for their wellbeing. We can now recognise the physiologic effects of equine massage therapy that impact not only the muscular system but also numerous other body systems, including the skeletal system, digestive system and nervous system. Today’s equine massage practices most often focus on techniques including various “point therapies” such as stress point therapy, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release techniques. Sports massage involves the application of compression or friction at the musculotendinous junction of the origin of the muscle, or the “anchored” area. The practical therapeutic goals of many massage therapists may be to make the animal feel good and relax, perform better, lessen the likelihood of injury, increase flexibility and range of motion, or aid in rehabilitation.
Massage should not be performed on horses in a variety of situations, and a qualified therapist will be aware of the inappropriateness of massage in these conditions. Some contraindications to equine massage include tumors, lacerations, unhealed scar tissue, heat, swelling, infectious conditions, fever, shock (shock lowers blood pressure and massage may cause further lowering of blood pressure), skin conditions (eg ringworm), ruptures, or contusions.
Our veterinarians regularly prescribe massage to patients during recovery and as part of a controlled rehabilitation program. We also use massage regularly on our equine athletes to keep them in top form.