What is Equine Sport Therapy?

"Equine Sports Massage Therapy is the therapeutic application of hands-on massage techniques for the purpose of increasing circulation, relaxing muscle spasms, relieving tension, enhancing muscle tone, and increasing range of motion in high performance horses."

Image by Philippe Oursel

Equine sport therapy comprises of modalities and massage techniques to help balance the body and induce the bodies innate healing ability. I use a combination of stretching, massage, energy work and joint mobilization to facilitate change in the horses troubled areas. This results in increased flexibility, movement and aids in healing and rehabilitation. Complementary therapies, in this case Sports Therapy, have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and have proven helpful in reducing the chances of musculoskeletal imbalances or injuries. Until recently, our western culture made us susceptible to viewing these therapies as nonsense, but they are fast becoming a fundamental part of caring for the equine athlete, from competition to leisure to retirees. 

Remember that every horse is unique, and therefore sessions should always be individualized to that horse. It may take several sessions before the body starts to take on the new changes within the system that have been treated. There may be crossovers in types of treatment. In addition to massage, I may incorporate cranial-sacral therapy, herbs nad flower essences, nutritional testing, saddle fitting, Acupressure, Kinesiology, and positional releases and stretching. But a practitioner’s approach should never stop at the horse. There is often a larger environmental picture at play, and making a commitment to change requires a team effort.

Tradition and experience should never prevent us from continually learning and exploring possibilities to further understand our approach of the care and training of the horse. After-all, we make every decision for them, so prevention is the best protection.

Training of Foals

When Equine Sport therapy can benefit:

Your horse may be showing signs of pain or discomfort if he displays any of the following symptoms, equine massage therapy might help with these problems: (this list is not exhaustive)

  • preference to one rein

  • lateral stiffness

  • reluctant to canter on one lead

  • high head carriage/ hollow back

  • bucking / rearing

  • head shaking

  • dislikes being groomed

  • uneven stride length

  • holding the head to one side / lack of bend and flexion at the poll

  • carrying the tail to one side

  • cold backed

  • girthing issues

Benefits of Equine Sport Therapy!

  • Pain Relief

  • Injury prevention

  • Stress Relief

  • Increased flexibility & freedom of movement

  • Increased / Improved circulation

  • Improved coat

  • Improved muscle tone

  • Improved posture

  • Improved immune system support

  • Influence of the Autonomic Nervous System – massage can move the body from a stressed state in the Sympathetic Nervous System to a more relaxed state of the Parasympathetic Nervous System – known as the “Relaxation Respone”.

  • Trust and a better connection with your horse on a mental and emotional level. You can take a massage course, that can teach you to massage your own horse. Please note you will only be allowed to work on your own horse during and after the course, you will not be qualified to treat your horse from a medical / remedial perspective. These types of courses are designed to enable you to connect with your horse on an emotional level – i.e. such as a nice grooming session with your horse.

  • Your Equine Sport Therapist may show you some exercises or stretches to do with your horse to enable you to help maintain the work that they have done. Again this for your horse only and a qualified therapist would not provide you with any tools / skills that could damage your horse.

Horse Whisperer

Contraindications

There are times when you absolutely should not use equine massage therapy, the effects of it should be not be underestimated, below are some examples: (again, list is not exhaustive)

  • heart conditions

  • malignant cancer

  • raised temperature

  • pregnancy

  • skin conditions

  • nervous conditions

  • broken bones

  • infection

Any qualified Equine Sport Therapist or will ask you for this information before commencing treatment, it is important that they are made aware of these conditions before treatment is started!

*New client intake forms will be provided to be filled out prior to sessions*