Equine massage is both restorative and preventative.
It assists in restoring functions lost due to strain or injury so the horse can function optimally while also helping to develop and maintain the physical health of the horse to prevent future injuries from occurring.
Specifically, it produces these effects in the following ways:
- The physical manipulation of muscle tissue reduces pain and tension, allowing the horse to move with greater ease and fluidity. Massage also stimulates the release of endorphins which reduce the perception of pain. Since massage helps to keep muscles relaxed and supple, it lowers the risk of injury significantly.
- Equine massage improves muscle tone and elongates connective tissue. This results in an expanded range of motion—longer strides, faster speeds and increased endurance, all of which enhance the athletic capability of a horse. Massage also helps to prevent muscle atrophy during long periods of inactivity resulting from illness.
- By increasing the flow of nutrient-rich blood to muscles, massage helps to speed up the healing process after an injury, reduces recovery time after competition or strenuous exercise, and flushes out toxins as well as excess fluids that have accumulated in muscle tissues. Massage also stimulates the lymphatic system, which is essential for fighting disease.
Horse owners often note an improvement in the emotional health and behavior of horses following massage, in addition to the physical benefits massage often yields. For example, massage therapy can induce relaxation in stressed, agitated and anxious horses, including those with a history of abuse. A reduction in muscular pain, stiffness, and discomfort also means the horse may be less fearful and more willing to perform.
Equine massage may help improve learning and training, the mental relaxation induced by the massage can help the horse to get into the correct frame of mind to learn. Horse that are relaxed can focus and learn far better than distracted and nervous horses..