Equine massage therapy is a method used by many horse owners to improve their horse’s overall health and wellbeing. In recent years, it’s become increasingly popular due to the fact that it provides non-intrusive and natural treatments for horses.
So, does equine massage therapy actually work? Equine massage has many of the same benefits for the horses that massage has on humans. Here are a few of the ways that equine massage can benefit horses:
- Increases Circulation
- Increases Flexibility
- Builds Muscle
- Relieves Stress
- Establishes Trust
As an equine massage therapist, I’ve seen many horses benefit from massage, both physically and mentally. In addition to the health benefits, equine massage can also be a great tool to use in training. Keep reading to learn how equine massage therapy works, and whether or not you should add it to your horse care and training routine.
Equine Massage Increases Circulation
Just like humans, horses have fluids, toxins, and nutrients traveling through their bodies. When a horse has poor circulation, toxins won’t be able to flow out of their muscles and the proper nutrients and blood flow won’t be able to get into them.
When a muscle is massaged or worked, the pressure from the massage encourages circulation throughout the muscle, letting the bad things out and the good things in.
If your horse gets stocked-up legs, then it may have bad circulation. Toxins aren’t able to circulate properly, so they come to rest in the horse’s legs. An equine massage can help to alleviate the buildup and help the toxins move on as they should.
Equine Massage Increases Flexibility
Another benefit of equine massage therapy is that a horse’s natural response is to stretch. In addition to the natural stretching that occurs, most equine massage therapists will delegate time after each massage to stretch the muscles that have just been worked.
Equine massage helps release tension not only in the muscles of the horse but the ligaments and tendons as well. As these parts of the horse start to relax, they will become more flexible.
High-level performance horses tend to become injured due to strenuous exercise. Their muscles aren’t given much time to relax. An equine massage, along with a day off, can help release the tension in those muscles and equip the horse to be able to deal with their training routine.
Equine Massage Builds Muscle
Believe it or not, but equine massage is considered an anaerobic exercise for your horse. The massage works their muscles just as a short but hard workout would. It can be compared to a quick gallop in the pasture or a speedy jumping round.
Equine massage can help your horse to build and maintain muscle. If you have an older horse or one lacking muscle, massage is a great way to help them safely build the fundamental muscles they need.
If your horse was injured and requires stall rest, a massage can maintain their muscle mass and also help them burn some energy.
Equine Massage Relieves Stress
Massage is known to be a stress reliever for both horses and humans alike. When your horse is stressed, it will naturally carry tension in its muscles.
A massage will help to release this tension and encourage your horse to relax. By changing the physical state of your horse, you can affect their mental state as well.
You can visibly see the massage release tension in your horse as they will chew, stretch, get sleepy, and even fart.
Equine massage releases endorphins in your horse that act as a painkiller. This will help your horse to relax and enjoy the massage. If your horse was recently moved to a new location or they seem stressed, they may greatly benefit from an equine massage.
Equine Massage Establishes Trust
Another thing you can use equine massage for is training. With young horses or horses who have a hard time trusting, equine massage can help get them used to human touch as well as different levels of pressure.
Equine massage can help your horse correlate the human touch with a good feeling that relieves stress and releases tension. The horse will learn that they can trust human attention and interaction.
For these reasons, equine massage can be a great benefit to young horses and rescue horses. It will help show them that human touch isn’t a bad thing. It will also get them used to being touched all over and help in the desensitization process.
Carmella Abel from Equine Helper
Carmella Abel is a certified equine massage therapist and lifelong horse trainer and rider. Her passion for horses encouraged her to start equinehelper.com, a website dedicated to helping beginner and experienced horse owners provide the best possible care for their horses.