As I get older, I have to pay more attention to my body, my muscles and my recovery time after exercise. Stretching before and after a work out is essential to keeping my body free from soreness and pulled muscles. I’ve also grown to love a good massage.
During my last session, an hour long massage with some sweet smelling essential oils, my masseuse asked me how my legs got so cramped. I told her how a few days before I had ridden my horse for the first time in a few weeks and that I wasn’t used to it. My body was tense while I was riding, especially during the first 20 minutes when I felt almost like I was learning to ride all over again.
“And the horse,” my masseuse asked, “how was he feeling?” I sheepishly admitted that I was too focused on my own pain to notice. But, I reassured her, horses are strong, solid animals and my horse was used to having a rider. She proceed to tell me that a horse and a human weren’t all that different when it came to proper exercise and that stretching and massaging are beneficial to muscles on all creatures. She pointed out that my horse could benefit from a massage, just like I do.
Equine Massage Therapy, she informed me, is growing in popularity, although its been around in some form for awhile. It doesn’t just apply to horses, she noted, but also to dogs, cats and other domesticated animals.
I decided to do a little research. I learned that Equine Massage therapy will reduce your horse’s risk of pulling or tearing muscles. Just like in my own body, a good massage in a horse will help with tired muscles and even muscle spasms. This form of therapy is often used for race and show horses. “Professional and recreational horse owners use it to improve performance, increase mobility and range of motion, and free up the horse’s poll, neck, shoulders and back to improve jumping, bending, turning, and stopping.” says Belinda Albracht, Certified EMST.
I also learned that Equine Massage Therapy has other benefits to a horse besides the physical aspect. Just as I feel calmer after a massage, a horse will also benefit mentally from his own massage. Tracie Shannon, Equine Sports Massage Therapist at Equine Massage Therapy of Northwestern Connecticut, says that a good massage can “help your horse be more relaxed by relieving tension and reducing the risk of over using other muscles that compensate for any discomfort. Equine massage therapy can also help improve circulation and reduce inflammation in joints and muscles while allowing them to move more freely.”
If you’re a rider and/or horse owner, you’re probably pretty in-tuned to your horse’s well being, both mentally and physically. If you notice that your horse does a lot of head tossing, has difficulty with lateral movements or unexplained lameness, consider a massage for your equine friend.
A horse massage might seem like a luxury for your horse that you’re not sure you can afford. You might be considering doing a massage on your horse yourself. While it is ok to lightly massage your horse’s muscles on your own, keep it on the surface and don’t mess around with a deep massage unless you are really comfortable with your horse’s anatomy. It’s best to leave that to the experts.
If you do massage or gently rub your horse, try using Mane ‘n Tail’s Mineral Ice as you work. It reduces muscle and joint pain associated with arthritis, injuries, sprains, strains and bruises. It will also relieve minor soreness and stiffness from exercise and performing activities.
You and your horse are a lot more alike than you might think. Take care of yourself and your horse for a long, loving and healthy friendship.