A massage, while grooming or simply whilst enjoying time with your four-legged friend, has many benefits for your horse: It increases its well-being and strengthens the bond between you two. But how do you massage your horse and what aspects should you consider whilst massaging?
Massages are simply beautiful. Don't you just love being kneaded, caressed and touched? Horses are no different. Usually.
At a glance: The benefits of massage
Can be integrated into your grooming routine
They show your horse that you are "fun" and don't just come for "work" or riding.
Increase general well-being
Help you to understand the horse's body better - you recognize problems earlier.
You can release muscle pains or fasciae.
As a responsible horse owner, this last point is especially important. If you are gently touching or massaging your horse on a regular basis, you will notice temperature differences and start to feel where tensions lie in the body. This will help you prevent injuries and makes it possible to address problems before your horse actually goes lame.
A good massage affects skin, connective tissue and muscles. In addition, it stimulates the whole organism and increases blood circulation, thus increasing the function of the metabolism and immune system. This is especially important during coat changing.
Massages: What do you need to know ?
We would like to emphasize the fact that every muscle is connected to the spinal cord and the brain. Therefore, it is important to know the basic anatomy of the horse. Get also familiar with the basics of massage. However, the most important indicator of a good massage is the horse itself and how it reacts to your touch.
Important massage facts
Do not massage your horse
before and during feeding
Or if it shows any of the following symptoms:
When to massage your horse
Before a training session: A massage loosens the horse and keeps the muscles flexible.
For relaxation purposes after a tough session or a show day.
As an additional "pampering program" for your horse if you are "only" taking your horse for a walk.
While massaging, you will find out whether your horse likes soft touches or more pressure. Ask yourself: How does it react to different pressures and techniques? If you are paying attention to your horse, you will not only get to know your companion better but also be able to use your newly gained knowledge to train your horse in a better way.
Horse-massaging: Basic rules
Start slowly and with gentle touches: See how your horse reacts to the different techniques you are using.
Take your time: Your horse should be able to relax. If you are bouncing around like a rubber ball and have an agitated energy, your horse is unlikely to relax.
Even if your horse is usually bomb-proof: keep a distance to the danger zones and remember that your horse can get frightened. Pay especially attention when massaging the hindquarters.
Keep in mind that your massage may animate your horse to want to "massage" you back. Wear appropriate clothing and show your horse that it doesn't have to massage you back.
Rule of thumb: Gentle pressure is relaxing; more pressure is stimulating.
You can massage only parts of your horse (head, legs) or the whole body. Adjust your timing.
Would you like to get to know some massage techniques? This Youtube-Video shows your 6 bodywork techniques for your horse.
We also recommend the Trigger Point Massage according to Jack Meagher. You can find more information here.
Have fun trying, until next week, Nicole