Most people will think of calling a massage therapist when their horse has a major problem. While massage is a wonderful treatment for many strains and injuries, what about the times in between when the horse appears fine? Your horse doesn't need to have an obvious existing problem in order to benefit from massage. In fact, the most effective use of massage therapy is actually applied in a maintenance program.

Though all horses can benefit from massage, it is those which are subjected to high stress training and performance that reap the greatest reward from a regular maintenance schedule. Through the rigors of training and competing, stress and strain can slowly build up in the muscles fibres until the breaking point is reached. At this point, a great deal of time and money are needed to help the horse recuperate and return to previous levels of training. But what if we could prevent the injuries from occurring?

As the name implies, the purpose of maintenance massage is to maintain the horse's current level of performance through maintaining the elasticity and suppleness of the muscles themselves. Through continuous training and performance, horses are asked to perform the same action or movement over and over again, thus predisposing them to repetitive strain injuries. An area of tension left unaddressed can also encourage the horse to compensate for their lack of full mobility in that area. This compensation can result in further areas of stress and the cycle continues. Regular massage sessions allow the therapist to locate and address areas of stress and/or tension before they become major issues. By addressing areas of tension immediately as they occur, we can maintain the elasticity of the muscle fibres which can help to decrease the occurrence of strain related injuries. The decreased tension and stress results in increased flexibility and range of motion which in turn can lead to increased performance.

When it comes to preparing a maintenance schedule, the frequency of the massages is dependent upon the activity of the horse. For the average riding horse, one massage per month would be the minimum recommended. As the training level increases, so must the frequency of massage. For race horses, as well as top-level competition horses, weekly sessions are recommended to maintain optimum performance.

Regular monthly massages are an excellent investment in the health and competitive productivity of your horse. With all the time and effort spent keeping the horse fit for competition, don't forget to keep the musculoskeletal system itself fit!

For more information on massage, visit our website:

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Tags: equestrian, equestrian blog, equine, equine massage, health, horse, horse blog, horse care, horse health, horse massage, More…maintenance, massage, rider blog, training


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Comment by Sharon McMaster on June 29, 2009 at 12:24am
Good point - massage and chiropractic treatments definitely compliment each other! The use of massage can aid the chiropractor in loosening muscles prior to the adjustment. The massage can also help the chiropractic adjustment last longer by reducing tension in the muscles which may otherwise pull the alignment off once again. And of course, massage can only help so much when the skeletal system is out of alignment!
Comment by Lesley Danko on June 27, 2009 at 10:27pm
Our distance horses get regular massages as well as chiro treatments. We feel one compliments the other. Money well spent!
Comment by Catherine Chamberlain on June 19, 2009 at 3:18pm
I agree. My seven year old Dutch Warmblood gets massages every month. He is currently showing third level and learning fourth level. I feel it really helps him stay loose and balanced while he is learning new things that could lead to tension. My massage therapist is also really good about telling me about his tight spots and showing me where he needs to develop more muscles. I'm pretty sure my horse enjoys them, too!
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