An Overview Of Equine Massage
The techniques and benefits of massage can be described in words but a great way to understand the effects is to try the real thing. If you are not sure whether massage will help your horse or if your pony will enjoy massage, find a good massage therapist and experience the effects for yourself to give you an idea of the effects on your horse. (Debbie can offer massage for people at your yard/home or her treatment room in Deeside). If this idea doesn't appeal to you in any way but your horse likes being groomed and stroked it might be better to go straight for an equine massage!
Massage involves the rhythmic movement of tissues, such as muscles, and can be done slowly and lightly to relax and soothe, or faster to invigorate and stimulate. Depending on the type and position of the muscle it can be pressed, squeezed or kneaded using the whole hand, fingers or thumbs. I use a holistic head-to-toe sequence including work on those muscles which can be reached by touch, mobilising and gentle articulation of joints and some stretches of limbs, neck and back. I adapt the sequence to the individual horse following assessment.
The techniques I use include effleurage, petrissage, friction and tapotement, and these are described in more detail on the 'techniques' page. These terms all originate in Swedish Massage.
Some areas of the body are not massaged. Abdominal massage is not used on horses as it is not beneficial and can disturb digestion, although it can be therapeutic for people.
Massage must also be timed correctly. For example it is not done during the acute stage of an injury, sprain or strain when emergency or first aid treatments are in use.