Equine massage is a form of massage which is customized for horses. Equine massage is also sometimes referred to as equimassage, equitouch, or equine sports massage, and it is used by a wide variety of equestrians around the world. As is the case with massage in humans, equine massage has a number of benefits, and it can be used both to treat specific conditions and to maintain general health and well being.
Horses have unique physical needs which are addressed by equine massage, which is basically a form of deep tissue massage on steroids. Practitioners who offer equine massage take extensive training in equine anatomy and physiology so that they understand the complex muscular system of the horse, and they learn a variety of techniques which can be used to release pain and tension in horses. The goal of an equine massage session is to free up stiff joints and muscles, extending the horse's range of motion and allowing it to move without pain or stress.
Equine massage can be offered on a regular maintenance basis, with the idea of identifying and addressing any emerging problems early, and it can also be used to treat specific situations, like leg and joint pain. In addition to easing pain, touch also tends to make horses calmer, happier, and more reliable, and many owners like to use equine massage to treat their mounts before competitions, as a happy, flexible horse will tend to perform to best advantage.
While equine massage might raise a few eyebrows among people who are not familiar with complementary medicine, it does have some distinct benefits. Horses who receive regular massage tend to move more freely and act in a more natural, relaxed fashion which makes them less prone to injury. They also enjoy their massages immensely; many horses groan with happiness or fall asleep during massage sessions, and some horses grow quite attached to their massage therapists.
A reputable equine massage therapist will stress that he or she cannot diagnose conditions or offer medical advice, unless he or she is also a veterinarian. Many nations have laws which prohibit the practice of veterinary medicine without a license, with the goal of protecting animals from unscrupulous practitioners. As a result, equine massage therapists are very careful about the kind of work that they do, and they typically encourage the use of routine veterinary care in addition to equine massage to treat and care for horses.
To find an equine massage therapist in your area, a good place to start is with veterinarians and farriers, who may be familiar with a particularly talented therapist. If your horse has not received massage before, you may want to get the advice of a veterinarian first before pursuing massage therapy, to make sure that it is not contraindicated for your horse. You can also find therapists through listings provided by professional organizations; as with any health practitioner, ask about the therapist's treatment philosophy and qualifications before booking an appointment.