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Equine Massage:

The use of massage in the treatment of horses.

Books on Equine Massage

Equine Massage

Equine Massage is massage therapy for horses and is commonly used to enhance performance levels and endurance, to prevent injury and to aid the rate of recovery when injury has occurred.

The claimed benefits of horse massage include:
  • Faster healing through the increased flow of blood to the muscles and improved dispersal of excess fluids and toxins.
  • Enhanced muscle tone and range of motion.
  • Aids in the removal of tension thereby reducing the likelihood of injury.
  • Stimulates circulation and releases endorphins the body's natural painkillers.
  • Reduction in inflammation and swelling of joints.
Equine Massage Practitioners advise the use of shorter regular sessions rather than infrequent longer sessions.

Massage of Horses can be beneficial in the following situations:
  • Pre-event : As part of a training and injury prevention program by loosening and warming muscles prior to competition.
  • Post-event : As part of the cooling down and recovery process by reducing soreness and stiffness in the muscles.
  • Maintenance : As a regular part of the horse exercise program to keep the muscles in tune and to aid in the prevention of injury.
  • Rehabilitation : As part of the recovery program to facilitate faster healing through increased blood flow and to prevent compensatory lameness.

There are situations where massage is not recommended, for example where there is acute inflammation of the skin, soft tissue and joints, where bones have been fractured, where circulatory disorders persist, where there is the presence or danger of haemorrhage or tumours and in the event of sprains.

However, veterinary surgeons are divided as to the efficacy of claims made by massage practitioners.

There is a body of opinion that says that prospective students of equine massage should qualify in human massage as an entry requirement. Indeed this is the case in Holland where a two year course in human massage is a pre-requisite to undertaking training in horse massage.

In the less regulated US, many equine massage courses last 5 days or less which is little time to acquire an in-depth knowledge of physiology and anatomy which would be desirable prior to obtaining certification as a specialist in horse massage.

Undoubtedly, the field of human massage has been much better researched and the widespread use of massage as an integral part of the training program of professional athletes is sufficient evidence for many that their competitive horses would also benefit from this form of therapy.

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