Before engaging in any form of massage, the therapist will perform a thorough evaluation to determine the specific needs of the horse. This normally involves consultation with the owner or trainer, observation of the horse at rest and while walking or trotting, and a physical examination of the horse.
The massage techniques used will vary depending on the unique needs of the horse and the therapist’s particular approach to massage. However, all therapists are likely to employ a series of hand movements designed to manipulate soft tissues, particularly muscles. These might include stroking, rubbing, kneading, pounding, clapping, and other application of pressure. In addition to using one or both hands, therapists may also use their fingers, knuckles, elbows, or vibrating equipment to stimulate body tissues.
Equine massage sessions typically last 1-2 hours and can be conducted outdoors or in a barn or stable. The horse might be secured with cross ties during the massage. After each session, the therapist may suggest exercises the owner or trainer can perform to further assist the horse. Significant benefits can often be gained from a single session, but regular treatments are usually needed to promote and maintain optimum performance.