Massage is the manipulation of soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia) in order to elicit a physiological response – such as to relieve tension and pain, and improve function.
There are many different types of massage, and I incorporate a variety of techniques into a treatment to accommodate each individual horse. The most frequently utilised modalities in my tool-kit are sports massage, tissue mobilisation (manipulation of soft tissue to improve joint function), and Masterson Method (a light touch method that requires the horse to actively participate in the release of tension).
I approach each session with an ‘it takes as long as it takes’ mentality, with sessions frequently lasting 2 hours if the horse is patient and willing, and hasn’t had any bodywork for some time.
Prevention is always better than a cure, and any type of bodywork works best when used as regular maintenance. This is because horses (and humans too) all carry around ‘baggage’ – their workload, the gear they wear, riders they carry, balance of their feet, postural habits, conformation etc. all have an effect on the way the soft tissue functions. Ideally, a horse in moderate work should receive a massage monthly.