History & Benefits
Massage has been used as a therapeutic technique for thousands of years, with evidence of its use dating back to ancient civilizations such as China, Egypt, and Greece. These cultures recognized the healing benefits of touch and developed various massage techniques to treat a wide range of ailments.
Over time, massage therapy evolved and spread to different parts of the world, with different cultures developing their own unique styles and approaches. In the Western world, massage therapy was largely viewed as a luxury or spa treatment until the 19th century when it began to gain recognition as a legitimate form of medical treatment.
The use of massage therapy on animals can be traced back to ancient civilizations as well. In fact, Chinese medical texts from over 2,000 years ago mention the use of massage to treat horses. However, it wasn't until the early 20th century that massage therapy for animals began to gain widespread recognition.
One of the pioneers of equine massage therapy was Jack Meagher, a former Olympic equestrian coach who developed a specific technique known as sports massage. Meagher's technique involved using deep tissue massage to improve the performance of racehorses and other high-level athletes.
Since then, equine massage therapy has become increasingly popular as a means of promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and improving athletic performance in horses. Today, there are many different schools of equine massage therapy, each with their own techniques and approaches.
The use of massage therapy on animals, including horses, has gained popularity because it can provide many of the same benefits as it does for humans. Massage therapy can help to relieve tension, reduce pain and inflammation, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. For horses specifically, massage therapy can also help to prevent injuries, enhance recovery from injury, and improve overall performance.
In summary, massage therapy has a rich history as a therapeutic technique that has been used for thousands of years by different cultures around the world. Its use on animals, including horses, has become increasingly popular due to its many potential benefits for improving their physical and emotional well-being.
Range of Motion
The muscular system is what is responsible for moving the skeletal system. Blockages and tension within the muscle tissue will greatly affect the horse's mobility. It is so common to immediately assume joint or structural issues when mobility is lost, but without the muscular system there would be no mobility at all.
Disposition & Trust
When a horse is in pain they cannot tell us with words, they speak through their bodies. Often this goes unnoticed or they are written off as behavioral issues. Biting, tail swishing, kicking, etc. can all be attempted communication to express pain. They may want to avoid being brushed or tacked because it is physically uncomfortable. If this expressed pain is muscular, you can help reduce or eliminate the pain that is generating the undesired behavior. Through the use of proper massage, you are able to help the horse associate human touch with something positive. Many horses may be used to experiencing physical and emotional discomfort when humans are around.
Relaxes Spasms, Adhesions, and Relieves Tension
Spasms, adhesions, and tension all create pain within the body. These painful bodily responses are caused by muscle fatigue, overuse, dehydration, and lack of proper minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Through proper massage and stretching exercises, we are able to return the tissue to its natural and healthy state.
Improves Circulation & Stimulates the Lymphatic System
Massage actually has a similar effect on the body as light exercise, without the concussion on the joints. Proper massage stimulates the lymphatic system, which is complementary to the circulatory system. Blood flow increases significantly during a session, to the point that a horse's body temperature will rise and you will feel increased warmth under your hands. This increased blood flow promotes healing, reduces inflammation, excretes toxins (some horses will sweat or even break out in hives!), and also releases endorphins - the body's natural painkillers.
Enhances Muscle Tone
Massage helps the body maintain natural harmony and balance. When the body is in this more natural state, the muscular system is able to perform the way it was intended to and develop natural, healthy, strong muscle tone.
Reduces Risk of Injury
Massage helps the body maintain health and overall balance and reduces the risk of over compensation. By improving overall harmony, the body is able to move in a natural way, decreasing the risk of injury.