Did you know that massage can not only relieve sore and stiff spots on your horse’s body. It can actually change his shape! Here’s how!
1 – Massaging the horses muscle helps the blood circulate around the horses body getting vital nutrients and oxygen to the muscle and remove all the waste products that can store in the muscle itself! It can also help hydrate the skin! See how this thoroughbred above looks in the top picture tucked in and tight and then at the bottom after the massage when the body looks more relaxed and full!
2 – Massage helps relieve tension! Tension is caused when a muscle is over worked which can then lead to pain! This is the beginning of what we call the pain cycle. There are multiple stages to the pain cycle starting with tension, pain is then created when the tension to the muscle becomes overloaded, the muscle then recruits other muscles in the area to help with the work load that the tension muscle cannot cope with. This then causes a restriction causing the muscles to be less mobilised, the muscles then become weak and lose the normality of their function which can lead to frustration and pain in the horse. Look at the tension in this young event horses face on the top picture and see how the eyes are uneven and the bottom how when the face is massaged they relax back to their normal position.
3 – As the muscle relaxes it helps take tension away from the skeleton that has been placed by the muscles releasing impingements to the spine and other areas. This is important when we think about riding and keeping a healthy back and creating a topline. Check out this picture of back tension before on the left see how the spine has a slight curve caused by the muscle tension and tightness and after massage how straight the spine looks!
4 – Massage relaxes your horse which can help lower the heart rate and can help reduce stereotypical behaviour such as windsucking, crib biting as the horse calms. Making the horse feel better and more refreshed for riding and a happy horse leads to a happy owner and rider. Look who’s sleepy after massage!
5 – Last but not least! Is that massage can help prevent injuries and boost the immune system! Making sure the horses is relaxed, nice and loose and free from tensions can help the horse to improve performance and lower the risk of injuries to itself! As massage helps encourages the circulatory system it also simulated the lymph which helps get rid of all the waste toxins in the horse’s system making the horse immune system stronger!
With thanks to Karen Allott of Allott RT Equine Massage