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What is equine massage therapy?

What is equine massage therapy and how can it help the horse?

To start at the beginning, massage therapy is an ancient and honoured complementary therapy used with humans. More recently it has become recognised as a therapy which helps to keep our horses performing at their best. After all our horses are athletes with many being asked to perform tasks which are very unnatural to them.

Massage therapy also aids rehabilitation after illness or injury and eases emotional discomfort.

Equine massage therapy is the intellectual manipulation of the various soft tissue structures which lay below the horse’s skin, using a variety of gentle techniques. Each technique works alone and in conjunction with others to detect, resolve and heal any muscular problems present within the horse’s body.

Each equine massage treatment is as unique as the horse being treated and will work on the horse both physiologically and psychologically to restore the


Equine massage therapy can be split into several categories, a couple of which I have mentioned below:

Maintenance massage: used to maintain the horses existing performance level. Repetitive actions carried out by a horse who regularly performs tasks of a similar nature will make the horse vulnerable to muscular malfunctions forming in certain areas of the body. E.g. a horse who regularly pulls a carriage will develop tension within the muscles in the shoulders and chest.

Rehabilitation massage: used to assist in the bodies recovery following illness or injury. Rehabilitation massage treatments will focus on increasing circulation to a previously injured area. This will help with the reduction of swelling, pain and tension by the removal of toxins. Once the injured area has been treated the therapist will treat the rest of the body to halt the negative effects of compensatory stance and movement, adopted by the horse when trying to ease the discomfort of the injured area.

Following on from studying and gaining an in-depth knowledge of the horse’s anatomy, traditional massage techniques and how these can benefit the working systems, a therapist can extend their knowledge by going on to train in and offer a wide range of other therapies, which complement their massage treatments. These therapies include such things as acupressure, kinesiology taping, laser therapy, myofascial release therapy, red light therapy and cranio-sacral therapy.

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