Why massage your horse? It's a question asked by many new and experienced equestrians alike. And while massage therapy has been proven to help horses with injury recovery, it's not just for injured or senior animals! Massage can also be used as part of an overall preventative health plan that includes proper nutrition and exercise.
If you're thinking about getting into massage therapy with your horse but aren't sure where to start, this article will give you some ideas on how massage them in order promote their well-being.
Massage Therapy as a Stress Relief
If you're like most horse owners, you probably think of massaging your horse as a luxury. But they're also an important part of your horse's health and well-being. In this blog post, we'll discuss the reasons why you should massage your horse on a regular basis. We'll also provide some tips for getting started and doing yourself.
The Horse : a Sensitive Animal
One of the most important things to remember when caring for a horse is that they are very sensitive by nature. This means that they regularly experience stressful situations as traumatic. It's important to be understanding and patient when working with them, and to always keep their best interests at heart.
This sensitivity is important to understand because it helps us to find new ways to relate with horses and teach new behaviors without causing them unnecessary discomfort. In horse training, the horse is always aware of your actions and knows when you are putting them in a new or uncomfortable situation . This means that it's important to give the horse at least some warning when asking it to do something new so that it has time to process this information before acting on it.
An example of an event which might cause stress in a horse is being asked to load into a horse trailer. This is often done in an environment which is not familiar or comfortable for the horse, and they are forced to spend time in a confined space with people who are strangers, loud noises, and who tend to be very quick.
Signs to Watch for in Stressed Horses:
Horses under stress release hormones that affect the horse's digestive system. By being able to recognize these signs, horse owners can intervene before a horse's health is affected.
The horse may refuse to eat its feed and become more aggressive in general by kicking out when approached. Horse teeth grinding when the horse is trying to rest or sleep is also a sign of stress in horses. Even though this behavior seems like the horse is relaxed, it's actually an indication that the horse is experiencing stress.
Horses use their tails to express themselves and when a horse feels stressed, its tail will swish more often than it did before. A horse's ears may also prick up or shift back in response to something that has spooked it or made it nervous.
Massage as a Relaxation Therapy
There is no horse who isn't under stress, because stress is an essential part of the horse's life. However, just like humans, some horses are more sensitive than others and need a deeper relaxation method to clear their minds.
There's a reason why massage is often called "the hands-on therapy." Massage has been shown to have a profound effect on the nervous system, which in turn can lead to all sorts of benefits for the horse. Some of the benefits of equine massage therapy, to name just a few, are pain relief, stimulation of the motor nerves, relief from restlessness and sleep disturbance, and improved proprioception. Massage is also thought to help calm nervous horses or horses in unfamiliar surroundings and/or stressful conditions. So if you're looking for a way to help your horse relax and recover from stress injuries or tension build-up, consider giving them a massage!
Caring daily for your horse wellness allows you to quickly pick up on any abnormal behavior or symptoms. Your caring massage will even detect abnormalities much earlier than by sight allowing you to take immediate action. Regular stretching will also provide you direct feedback on your horse flexibility, or lack of.
A horse lives in the moment and reacts very fast to changes in the environment and to the horse's emotional state.
Just as people, some horses are calm and quiet, while others are energetic and hyperactive. The more active horse might need a massage more often than the calm horse to help them feel better and release stress. In any case, even a horse who is not very active will benefit from relaxation techniques.
How to Start Massaging your Horse
The benefits of massage for horses are vast and varied. As well as the numerous physiological benefits to the nervous system listed above, equine massage can also improve circulation, hair coat and muscle tone; improve recovery time from workouts; increase flexibility; aide in the recovery from injury; reduce the chance for future injury; support the immune system; and not to mention that it just down right feels good!
Massage and Stretching
No matter what kind of physical activity your horse is engaged in, a massage routine is important for their overall well-being. A regular massage can help relieve stress, ease tension in the muscles, and improve circulation. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of horse massage and give you a step-by-step guide to performing a basic massage routine on your horse.
Use your hands for the massage, and use this horse massage routine at least once a week. Massage with pressure. Apply gentle strokes to help the muscles relax and to increase their elasticity while gently stretching them in all directions (towards head or tail).
Know the horse's anatomy. Like humans, horses have muscles and tendons that need to be taken care of correctly so they do not get injured or strained during riding activities. For example, if your horse has a sore neck because it was ridden too hard on one side then using massage techniques on both sides might help prevent the problem from happening again. You can also use massage to help improve muscle tone and circulation in horses that are not used for riding, such as retired racehorses.
Light massage and gentle stretching help keep the muscles, tendons and ligaments healthy by increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage. This helps remove toxins from the tissues and reduces inflammation. Hydrotherapy can also be beneficial, providing a low-impact exercise that is especially helpful for older horses with joint problems.
You can also focus on specific areas of concern . Applied before and/or after physical activities, the “trouble spots” massage technique allows you to target specific areas that have been worked during physical activity or even on rest days if they are still sore from a previous work-out session.
For you too : Try the horse stretch!
The horse stretch is a great way to warm up the body, and also to use as a cool down after horse riding. It’s another one of those exercises that are just very simple and easy to do, but can be quite effective at helping you loosen up your muscles.
To perform horse stretch, start off by kneeling on all fours with your back flat like a table top (not arched or rounded). Make sure that your knees are directly under your hips, and shoulders over wrists. Keep the abs pulled in tight throughout this exercise. Take some deep breaths here in neutral spine position for about 30 seconds. On an exhale slowly round out through the upper back curving it towards the ceiling as much
Other Stress Relief Therapies that Pair Perfectly with Massage Therapy
Heat and Cold Therapy
Cold therapyCold therapy is very relaxing and can relieve stress on your horse. It's also great after a massage. It can come in many forms, such as gel wraps made specifically for therapy or just the use of ice packs and a towel.
Cold therapy will reduce inflammation, which in turn reduces pain caused by injury or therapy sessions. For example, if you were to work your horse hard, cold therapy would help with soreness and stiffness after strenuous work.
Heat therapy is a popular therapy used in the treatment of chronic conditions such as arthritis, general muscle stiffness and other disorders .
The horse's muscles will then be more flexible and easier to massage. The horse will also be satisfied from the heat of the treatment as it is very soothing for an aching horse, especially after a hard day. In addition, there are also some great benefits from doing this such as improving blood circulation, keeping joints flexible and pain relief.
If you love your horse and want to ensure that they are as healthy and happy as possible, be sure to add regular equine massage to your routine! It's a great way to show your horse how much you care and it's bound to make both of you feel amazing.