Equine massage for prevention, maintenance, or treatment

by horselover2

Massage in Frankfurt, Germany

Image via Wikipedia


Many people wake up or go to sleep dealing with an ache here or a pain there.  Due to the fact that we have the ability to call the doctor, the chiropractor, or the massage therapist; as humans, we are in charge of our own pain management.   

However, domesticated horses are not so lucky.  Although on the whole, these beautiful animals are well taken care of, it is common for the horse owner to overlook the fact that horses can also be “out of alignment,” or suffer from cramps and muscle aches.  This is not necessarily the horse owner’s fault as these muscular, powerful animals are able to hide their aches and pains better than humans. Because of this, every horse owner should ask themselves, “Is my horse in pain and how should that pain or discomfort be prevented or managed?”  

One significant option for pain prevention or management in horses is the use of massage.  Although, to some, the idea of getting a massage for a horse seems indulgent, in reality, massage has been used on horses for approximately 3000 years.  Massage can be used as the sole treatment for minor aches and pains or in addition to chiropractic or acupuncture when the problem is more severe.  

Just as with humans, using massage can relax muscle spasms, relieve tension, enhance muscle tone, and increase range of motion.  Using massage as a tool for relaxation and treatment is beneficial if the horse is suffering from muscle aches, soreness, or stress. 

Using massage as a preventative method is also beneficial.  Why wait until it is obvious that the horse is in pain?  Is it not true that prevention is better than treatment? Horses, even those in prime condition, often develop small injuries that can go unnoticed. If left untreated,  minor damage can lead to a larger, more serious injury due to muscle weakening or failure. 

In addition, if a horse is suffering from a major injury, massage can help increase circulation and help break down scar tissue.  This allows the horse to heal faster and minimize scaring.  Increased circulation is extremely important to the healing process. Many horse owners know what it means to “hydro” a wound.  However, they are not aware that the use of water is not only to clean the wound, but to increase the circulation within and around the injury using water pressure.  If a steady stream of water can help a wound heal faster, the possible benefits of the pressure caused by massage are extensive.   

Horses can benefit from massage whether it is being used preventively, to maintain muscle health, or to aid in healing. Massage can relieve muscle pain and/or spasms; support the skeletal system; protect against or treat joint issues; and aid in the repair of serious injury.  

The bottom line is that massage is beneficial whether it is being used to relax a horse or to treat a sore back, lameness, a torn muscle, or ligament damage. Just remember to be responsible and as with any type of alternative treatment, when finding a massage therapist, make sure each practitioner is certified.  In addition, check with the horse’s veterinarian for treatment approval.