Massage therapy is the systematic manipulation of soft tissues to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function or relieve pain. Equine massage is a non-invasive approach that utilizes hands-on manual therapy, and may also incorporate hydrotherapy and remedial exercise.
Benefits and Use
Equine massage therapy can be a valuable part of a horse’s ongoing health maintenance plan. It can be used to relieve muscular tension, to help detect signs of strain early on, encourage a more supple and balanced way of going, and can provide important mental down time, particularly for those with demanding competitive schedules.
For older horses or those with chronic musculoskeletal conditions, massage can be valuable in maintaining mobility and relieving discomfort.
Equine massage can also be applied in the rehabilitation process, during a horse’s recovery from injury (*with veterinary approval*). With a whole body approach, massage can also help address secondary and compensatory issues that may arise as a consequence of the primary injury.
It is important to recognize that massage can have an effect on many of the body’s systems, and may not be an appropriate therapy if certain conditions exist..
Before treatment begins a Registered Equine Massage Therapist (REMT) will take a thorough case history to ensure there are no contraindications to massage. It is important that the REMT, horse-owner and veterinarian have an open line of communication so that any issues can be discussed and handled in the most appropriate way.
The approach and focus of a massage session will be influenced by the goals of the treatment, stage of healing (with respect to cases of rehabilitation), the horse’s condition, response to treatment, and any other factors that may influence the horse’s state or outcome of the massage.
Equine massage therapy is never a substitute for veterinary care.