Frequently Asked Questions
Is my horse a good candidate? Why should my horse get bodywork?
Horses of all ages can benefit from bodywork! Young horses may still be experiencing growing pains or be sensitive to the ever increasing demands of learning to be bridled, saddled and carrying a rider. Adult horses are constantly challenged by muscle fatigue and tightness from a rigorous training program. Older horses may be dealing with pain from arthritis or previous injuries. Receiving bodywork at regular intervals can also greatly reduce the risk of future injury as well as promote a faster recovery.
How long does it last? What happens?
Most sessions are done in 90 minutes and will take place in the horse’s stall. The sequence will move over the horse’s whole body, targeting all major muscle groups. Stretching and relaxation techniques will be applied throughout the session. Owners will be given “homework” to help encourage lasting benefits from massage. You may notice positive outcomes immediately; or it may take a few days. Some horses will require a few sessions to see the benefits, particularly if they have a complicated medical history.
When is the best time for an appointment? How often should they receive work?
The best time for an appointment is a time of day that your horse can relax more easily (ie. NOT during peak barn activity hours or before feeding time, however, having hay available to them during the session can help put some horses more at ease). Depending on your horse’s training program, the frequency of sessions may vary. Once a month is a good guideline for most horses, though weekly may be more appropriate for a sport horse in competition season. Ideally, you should have a regular massage schedule established well before the first show or race of the season, or allow at least one week between the massage and the competition.
What should I expect?
Every horse is different. Expect to give your horse a light hack or hand walk after the massage, but allow for an easy day. You may notice your horse seems more relaxed and mellow, or he may have more energy. His posture may improve, or he may seem less grumpy. For every breed and personality, the results will be a little different. Because massage and bodywork is essentially like hitting a "reset" button on the muscular system, some horses may move drastically differently in the days following a session. This is why it is very important to allow time between bodywork and competition, as you want to be familiar with how his body has adapted to these effects before entering the show ring!
My horse is under veterinary care. Should he receive work?
Always check with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your horse’s health before receiving bodywork. Most horses will benefit greatly, but a horse that is presenting any symptom or gait abnormality that is new or unusual should not receive work until cleared by the vet. Heat and swelling, dehydration, skin lesions from fungal, bacterial or viral infections, a new lameness or injury less than 7 days old or elevated vital signs are all contraindications for treatment. If the horse seems unusually lethargic or stopped eating, he needs to see the vet first. Massage and bodywork are never a substitute for medical care.
How do I prepare for a treatment? What should I do after?
Please DO NOT bathe your horse before bodywork! A wet horse is too sticky to work on. It’s ok if he’s a little dirty, as long as he’s been brushed lightly. I am happy to do a once-over with the brush if you leave it out for me. Just make sure he’s not wet or caked in mud. After the treatment, your horse should be hand walked or taken out for a light hack. He will need an opportunity to move around and stretch, but you will want to avoid any high speeds or demanding collection exercises for the rest of the day. In addition to following the recommended homework exercises, be sure to schedule your next appointment--not only for your horse, but for yourself! As an experienced human massage therapist, I can help you to overcome the physical challenges that may be hindering your time in the saddle.
This is our first appointment. What do I need to do?
Be sure to fill out your intake form completely and bring it with for your horse's first appointment. Click here to download. You do not need to be present for the session, however, if you are available before and/or after we can compare how your horse was moving before to see if there are immediate changes of note. Additionally, I can personally show you stretches, massage moves and muscle activation techniques to help the effects of the treatment last longer. You are welcome to observe the session, but conversation must be kept to a minimum to allow me to focus on your horse and how he’s responding to treatment.
What CAN i DO BETWEEN SESSIONS TO MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS?
Based on your horse's response to each treatment, I will recommend stretches, muscle activation techniques, and some massage moves to help you maintain the benefits achieved from the session. In addition to these, you will want to schedule a massage for yourself, as well as a saddle fit evaluation for yourself and your horse. Poorly-fitting equipment and a sore, injured, or otherwise imbalanced rider are without question the most common reason why the horse would need bodywork in the first place. Behavioral problems, soundness issues and recurring injuries can never be fully addressed without taking a close look at what is causing them, and quite often the issue may be stemming from tack the doesn't fit, or a rider who (consciously or unconsciously) is creating imbalance in the horse.
WHAT DO OTHER PEOPLE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT EQUINE BODYWORK?
Please click on the Testimonials tab!