I am certified in Equine Myo-Manipulative Functional Therapy (CEMFT). This includes several techniques such as swedish massage, myofascial release & gua sha as well as stretching (positional release) to reduce tension and increase range of motion.
I am also certified in Equine Sports Massage Therapy (CESMT) - Equissage Texas. This certification includes a specific sequence using several techniques to increase blood flow into ischemic tissue, separate muscle fibers and reduce or eliminate adhesions and fibrosis.
Massage can be tailored for the performance or pleasure horse, including retired horses and those on layup, and can be used a day or two before an event to prepare, post class for recovery and as a general maintenance program. Depending on your horse’s needs, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly sessions would be recommended.
Some benefits of Equine Massage:
Relaxation & Stress Reduction
Increased Flexibility of Soft Tissue
Reduction of Edema
Enhancement of Waste & Toxin Elimination
Maintenance of Good Posture & Body Balance
Prevention of Atrophy in Inactive Muscles
Improvement in Athletic Performance
Loosening & Softening of Scar Tissue
Release of Endorphins (pain reduction)
Why massage a horse?
Horses are the premier athletes of the animal kingdom. Their size and power means it is unavoidable that in a lifetime of work, play, and occasional inactivity, most horses encounter obstacles that hinder their best movement and comfort. Competent care means that minor injury itself should not be of great concern to the average horse owner. But once tissue has been compromised, how to head off the associated patterns of compensation and imbalance?
Simultaneously preventative, maintenance oriented, and restorative in nature, massage can be instrumental not only in restoring normalcy to areas of tension and asymmetry, but also in ensuring that tissues are more resilient to future insult. Horses who receive massage enjoy a noninvasive method to promote a wide array of benefits that include reduction of tension, inflammation & pain, increased range of motion, and relaxation. Owners enjoy the resultant improvements to disposition, performance, and career longevity.
Just as humans athletes know that achievement depends upon appropriate preparation, horse owners respect that their horse's greatest success is fostered within a finely-tuned balance of challenge and comfort. For any athlete, massage presents a proactive and empowering adjunct to a lifelong training plan. Maintenance of "wellness" and homeostasis in the equine body can help to prevent "illness" and disease. Bodywork is a small part in this process alongside adequate preventative veterinary care, timely veterinary attention in times of injury or illness, nutrition, training, correctly fitting tack and good management of the environment in which your horse is stabled.
How does massage work?
Touch promotes a cascade of positive physiological, chemical, and psychological changes which benefit the whole horse. Superficial techniques influence nerve endings to interrupt muscle spasm and the transmission of pain impulses, and can selectively sedate or invigorate. Deeper strokes stimulate circulation to oxygenate blood, hydrate muscles, lubricate joints, and support lymphatic drainage. Targeted work releases adhesions and remodels irregular muscle fibers to restore mobility. Massage ensures optimal comfort and freedom of movement, maximum muscular efficiency, reduced recovery time after injury.
Techniques related to energy do not always require "hands-on" or a lot of physical pressure on your horse's body tissues, but can have equally positive effects on his nervous system, and the function of his musculoskeletal system.
How long will my horse's massage take?
An average appointment lasts approximately one hour total, from arrival to departure.
This time includes roughly 45 minutes of hands-on work, plus allowance for observation, discussion, and note taking.
A MagnaWave treatment without massage typically lasts 40-45 minutes for a full body session.
This can be extended to an hour if you require additional work on the legs or a specific injury.
Please allow an additional 15 to 30 minutes for your horse's first session, which includes an in-depth discussion of your horse's health history, as well as a series of initial dynamic observations and assessments.
How often should my horse be massaged? (also applies to PEMF)
While regularly scheduled sessions yield the greatest benefit for any horse, specific indications for massage depend upon your horse’s workload and your goals for his performance. The following is a guideline for horses of varying levels of activity:
Elite athletes (horses in specialized training programs and/or regular competition): Horses trained 5-6 days a week and those who participate monthly in high-intensity activities (e.g. clinics or competition) benefit from massage 2-4 times a month. Frequent massage ensures regular muscle development, maximum efficiency, and shorter recovery time after exertion. Just as importantly, a consistent massage regimen keeps you and your horse’s wellness team informed of any irregularities in your horse's musculoskeletal system. In this way, adjustments can be made so that your horse may safely perform at his highest athletic potential and enjoy a long and comfortable career.
Athletes (horses in moderate training programs and/or periodic competition): Horses ridden 4-5 days a week and those who participate in monthly clinics or events will benefit from massage 1-2 times a month.
Pleasure horses and weekend warriors. Horses ridden lightly 2-4 days a week benefit from massage on a monthly basis, and may benefit from an extra session surrounding particularly rigorous events.
Horses resuming work after time off. If your horse is coming back to work after a period of inactivity, regular massage serves as a wonderful circulatory aid as he gets those creaky joints working again! After vet clearance, plan to schedule your horse’s first massage about a week into his new training program, and continue with regular massage once every two weeks for three months. Once a work routine has been established, continue with massage based upon need and workload.
Horses on medical lay-up, stall rest, or in rehab. Ask your vet if massage/PEMF Therapy is appropriate for your rehabbing horse! For horses who are unable (or not allowed) to move freely, gentle, weekly massage provides a vital service by stimulating circulation to help reduce fluid retention, support the lymph system, and deliver vital nutrients to tissues. Above all, massaging your horse during his downtime will help reduce the anxiety and depression that often afflicts stall-bound horses, as well as help him feel engaged and especially well-attended to during his convalescence. Providing bodywork for your rehabbing horse will help to ensure that his transition back into work is as comfortable and positive as possible.
The short answer: sometimes immediately, sometimes imperceptibly over time—and in most cases, both! You will almost always notice visible improvement in the tone of your horse's musculature, overall posture, and ease of movement by the end of every massage.
Horses who are seen for the restoration of mobility after old injuries will, understandably, require a gradual course of therapy before significant change is noticed. The tissues of horses coming back after acute issues often respond rapidly with massage to facilitate the healing. Your horse's age, general health, receptiveness, and the goal of the treatment all play into to the result of each massage.
Because the benefits of massage are holistic and cumulative, a regular, ongoing regimen will yield the most stable results over time. Massage also works best as part of an overall wellness program for your horse, that includes other equine professionals. You're veterinarian and farrier and incredibly important in your horses overall health, and can offer you advice, support and information to keep your horse functioning at the best of his ability. Therapeutic modalities such as chiropractics, acupuncture, massage, PEMF, and laser are cumulative in their ability to assist in maintaining your horse's wellness and each individual horse responds better to some modalities than others. It is important to have the right balance of tools for your specific horse's needs which may include combining many of the above techniques, especially if your horse is in rehab or in heavy training and competing regularly.
How can I get the most out of my horse's massage?
Learn your horse's "normal." When you know how your horse operates in his usual state of being, you've also honed the awareness to perceive when something's off. With your input, your horse's massage can be more finely tuned in order to guide him towards his optimal state of equilibrium.
Schedule during barn down-time. With fewer stimuli to distract him, your horse will be better primed to achieve the state of relaxation that enhances the global healing properties of his massage.
Have him cool and dry. If you ride your horse before his session, please allow him ample time to cool down and dry off before his massage. It is difficult to assess the varied layers of tissue on a hot, damp horse, which could mean I miss important aspects of his condition that day. It is wise to schedule your first appointment so I can see your horse "cold".
Take your horse through the motions. Following your horse's massage, get him moving! The time immediately following bodywork is a valuable period of recalibration. An easy workout or hand walk will assist in helping your horse to repattern the musculoskeletal changes facilitated by his massage. Turnout works too - movement of some kind is better than them return to a static position in their stall.
Think prevention before cure: if your horse's massage/PEMF regimen makes him resilient to injury, you've gained months or even years of progressive training time that may otherwise have been spent rehabbing. Schedule regularly before issues arise to ensure that your horse is always at the top of his game.