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The Lighter Touch and the Horse's Feedback!

The lighter touch and the horse's feedback written by Laura Stickley Holistic Equine Massage Practitioner and Founder of Centaur Equine Massage Training

During a massage treatment as a therapist I will utilise the very light and gentle touch when working with the muscular structure.

Sometimes to the horse’s owner it looks like not much is happening but underneath the horse’s skin I can feel the fascial tissue and muscles releasing their tension and unwinding.

Using a slow and light touch during a massage treatment means the horse will feel relaxed and comfortable in my company which in turn allows the fascial tissue and muscles accept the treatment applied and release their tension.

If I was to become heavy handed during a treatment and apply too much pressure the horse will tense up causing the underlying tissues to ‘fight’ against my treatment and therefore not release and unwind. Furthermore, applying pressure to a muscle which is tensing against my pressure will cause trauma/bruising.

As a therapist I am constantly watching your horses reactions to my treatments to determine if they are happy with the pressure that I am applying, this is something you as an owner can also look for to ensure your horse is happy with the therapist who is treating them.

The reactions to look out for whilst your horse is being treated are:

- Soft/relaxed eye - Slight sideways movements - Lowering of the head - Licking - Chewing - Yawning - Gently shifting their weight around - Moving into the therapist’s pressure

The reactions that mean the horse is feeling uncomfortable with what is happening:

- Worried eye - Raising the head - Moving away from the therapist’s pressure - Ears back - Showing warning signs that proceed an attempt to kick or bite

Interestingly, if a therapist doesn’t read the horse’s feedback and continues to apply pressure when the horse is feeling discomfort the signs given could change from unhappy signs to submissive signs which mirror the ‘good’ signs that we watch for. This is why we need to be very careful to ensure we are reading the horse’s feedback from the very beginning of their treatment to ensure we aren’t missing any signs that they are giving us.

A horse is at its most vulnerable when either eating or drinking so will simulate this stance when being submissive. This includes lowering the head, chewing and licking the lips.


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