of Equine Therapy
One way massage helps achieve this is by
increasing circulation. This increase in
circulation helps in multiple ways:
Massage improves cardiovascular
circulation which increases oxygen and
nutrition to the muscles.
Massage also increase the lymphatic
system's circulation which removes the
toxins and waste build up from the body.
This increase in circulation not only helps
the horse's muscles, it helps boost the
immune system. This makes for a
Another way massage helps relieve tension is by making changes in the Connective Tissue. Under stress,
hormones are produced that cause the connective tissue to thicken. This is the body's attempt at protecting
itself from traumatic injury. Unfortunately the body sometimes overreacts and tries to protect itself and actually
causes tension when there is no real physical danger.
If your horse was injured but is in recovery, you can use massage to break up any compensation patterns
that are forming to prevent there from being further problems. Or you can use massage to break up any scar
tissue - but, only after the area has healed. Be sure that your horse has been cleared by your vet first, and
then you can use the rolling and kneading movements of massage to help soften the tissue to reduce the
tightness and tension that are forming.
Another benefit of using equine massage and alternative equine therapies to relieve tension in connective
tissues is that it results in a reduction of pressure on sensitive nerve endings. And who doesn't want a
reduction in pressure on their nerve endings? I know I do.
Massage also helps to stimulate proprioceptors. This stimulation helps to "reset" the proprioceptors getting
rid of non-productive or over-stimulated nerve pathways. "Resetting" the proprioceptors allows the body to return
to a healthier state - allowing the horse to relax and release built up tension.
One of the biggest benefits of massage is it's ability to influence the Autonomic Nervous System. Massage
will move the body from a stressed state in the Sympathetic Nervous System to the more relaxed state of the
Parasympathetic Nervous System. This is known as a "Relaxation Response".
The Relaxation Response is what you will be trying to achieve in many of the alternative equine therapies.