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Sports massage for horses

Nobody will contradict the beneficial effect of massage for sportspeople. Horses are also often used competitively, which increases their muscular demands. That’s why they also earn it that enough attention is given to their muscle problems.

The muscles of the horse

Trauma, stress of heavy exercises can causes muscle cramps. This can then cause overload to the articulations and tendons which increases the chance of pain and injury. The horse will compensate by using more other muscles, by decrease mobility or by resistance to the requested movement.

The function of a muscle is to contract and relax, which brings the articulation connected to the muscle in movement. This process is conducted by the nervous system. A muscle problem appears when the muscle can’t fully relax and losses therefore his flexibility.

When nothing is done to stop this process, the problem will not remain isolated to one spot. Due to compensation, the problem will expand from one muscle group to the other.

Origin of problem?

  • Trauma: these are all situations in which the horse overloads his muscles by force. We think about a fall in the field or during training, lying firm in the box, slipping, …
  • Insufficient warming up
  • Too short cooling down after training or competition
  • Bad fitting saddle

Jack Meagher, sports massage for horses

As mentioned before, muscles problems originate in the relaxation process. Tightening is followed by the development of a spasm at the exact spot, the rigid knot. This rigid knot is broken by deep pressure on the correct spot. In the JM massage it is very important to find the correct spot where the rigid knot is located. The key to success lies in accuracy. So what makes Jack Meagher sportsmassage so inique, is the deep pressure on the right spot.

The whole horse is being massaged at both sides. Whit regular massages, there will be no rigid knotw anymore and the horse will be fully loose in his body. Due to the accuracy of this method, starting problems can be detected in an early stage and resolved.

Advantages

  • Better blood circulation
  • Better transport of different tissue fluids
  • Better metabolism
  • Better functioning of the muscle and broader movements
  • Amelioration in the general wellbeing

Complaints for a JM sports massage

Here is a list with examples of which kind of complaints can be caused by muscle problems in the horse.

    • Not like being brushed
    • Difficult to bend the neck
    • Difficult to bend the body
    • Forelegs not straight under the body
    • Not able to ride forwards downwards
    • Difficult to start the gallop
    • Shorter movements
    • Long warming up
    • Treatment sports massage

How does a sports massage on a horse take place?

The first treatment consists of a short interview to obtain all relevant information concerning the horse (age, medical data, what is the horse used for, ….)

It is possible that I ask to see the horse in movement, but this is not indispensable.

Then the massage is started. The whole body of the horse will be palpated. I prefer doing this in box, when the horse is being hold. Given deep pressures on rigid knots is accompanied with pain, which can give heavy reactions from the horse. That’s why I count on the help of the owner of the horse to control the horse. The first treatment is the most painful. The second treatment is mostly less painful because the blood circulation is already better. Normally I do 3 massages in a couple of weeks time. For a horse with heavy muscle problems it is recommended to do another massage after more or less 6 weeks. If requested it can be decide to do regular massages.

What can you expect?

For an experienced rider, result can already be noted after the massage.

Maximum 2 hours after the treatment, the horse must move during at least 30 minutes (walk, trot, gallop). This can be under the saddle or with a longe. When the horse is recuperating from an injury, the movement scheme will of course be adapted accordingly. Massage is an addition to the normal care (veterinary, osteopath,…) and not as replacement of veterinary care.

As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”, it would be good to check the horse once or twice a year by an equine osteopath. This way you get the best out of your horse!

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