Massage is an important component of equine therapy. I’ve put together a series of videos showcasing how, and why, we massage certain areas of the horse’s body. In this week’s video, I show you how to massage the head of a sensitive young mare.
In my introductory sore horse workshops, I talk a lot about the importance of regularly running your hands over your horse’s body to feel for any sore areas, muscle spasms, flinching or tenderness. The earlier you identify and start treating a sore horse, the better.
Equine massage therapy is an easy and effective way to do this. It’s also a great method of pain or stress relief, and it increases your horse’s range of motion. Plus, once your horse relaxes into a massage, it can be a very pleasant and enjoyable experience – much like it is for us.
I believe anyone can massage. That’s why I’ve put together a short series of massage videos showcasing where to massage, how to massage and why massage is important for particular areas. I will be posting these weekly for the next six weeks. Here’s the first in the series.
Head Massage for a Sensitive Mare
In this video, I massage the head of a young mare using NPC liniment, which is available on my website.
This mare is a little bit sensitive and head-shy. A head-shy horse will be reactive during a massage and try to block you. The key is continuous movement: slowly but surely the horse will begin to relax into the massage which is what we need to really get into those main muscle groups and reach the deeper layers of connective tissue. It also means your horse understands that we’re here to help and to make them comfortable.
You’ll see in this video that the young mare starts to relax. She gradually starts to lower her head, and we begin to see the licking of the lips, blinking, shutting of the eyes and headshaking.
The halter and the bridle sit on some important muscles and ligaments on the horse. We want to ensure this area is completely free, and that the muscles, skin and fascia are running smoothly. Using the palm of your hand and your fingers, focus on the area between ear and halter. Do this by getting right alongside the forelock and the ear. Massage through the top of the head too. This is where your horse carries lots of stress and tension.
For this mare, I will do this for two to five minutes a day for approximately two weeks and then three or four times a week from there.
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