Massage is the manipulation, planned pressure, friction and kneading of the muscles. It’s a non-invasive technique used to enhance equine performance and reduce the risk of injury. It stimulates the nervous system and muscle tone, increases flexibility, improves blood flow to help eliminate lactic acid and toxins, encourages balance and relaxes muscles to promote body ease and emotional well-being.

If you horse has shown signs like kicking, bucking, resisting leads, attitude problems, head tossing, difficult lateral bending or a lack of enthusiasm he may benefit from massage. Many riding disciplines and everyday life can create tension in the muscles. Weakness, excessive use, poor conformation, injury, muscle compensation, putting horses up before they’re properly cooled and placing too many demands on the body before a sufficient warm up can lead to strain and injury.

At today’s meeting I will be demonstrating and then helping 4-Hers practice some basic stretches with horses that help maintain flexibility in muscles, ligaments and tendons. I will also introduce them to some basic massage techniques that they can do with their own horses to help promote well-being and improve their bond. Deep body work and therapeutic massage should only be done by trained professionals and under the guidance of a veterinarian and thus will not be covered today.

I learned sports massage therapy and pressure point therapy by attending a certification school in Colorado and then apprenticed in a top hunter/jumper barn.  While in Australia I worked extensively on race thoroughbreds and our schooling horses while working on my equine science degree. One of my favorite clients was the 1999 Australian horse of the year. As a jumper he often exhibited soreness in his neck and shoulders and would often enjoy his massage so much he'd fall asleep (and nearly over!).

 

    Author

    Lindsey Blaine is the leader of the Phantom Riders 4-H Club and has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in biological science with emphasis in equine science. She trains horses and instructs riders in all-around disciplines and volunteers with multiple organizations. Her goal is to share years of knowledge and experience with others. Have a question about your project, from a meeting or in general? Ask!

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