How can I get the most out of my horse's massage?

Six tips, pared down, for ensuring your horse receives the maximum benefit from every massage:

  1. Learn your horse's "normal."  When you know how your horse operates in his usual state of being, you've also honed the awareness to perceive when something's off.  With your input, your horse's massage can be more finely tuned in order to guide him towards his optimal state of equilibrium.
  2. Schedule during barn down-time.  With fewer stimuli to distract him, your horse will be better primed to achieve the state of relaxation that enhances the global healing properties of his massage.
  3. Have him cool and dry.  If you ride your horse before his session, please allow him ample time to cool down and dry off before his massage.  It is difficult to assess the varied layers of tissue on a hot, damp horse, which could mean I miss important aspects of his condition that day.
  4. Take your horse through the motions.  Following your horse's massage, get him moving–gently!  The time immediately following bodywork is a valuable period of recalibration.  An easy workout or hand walk will assist in helping your horse to repattern the musculoskeletal changes facilitated by his massage.  Strenuous activity should be avoided for at least 24 hours.
  5. Do your homework.  Between sessions, I provide a customized follow-up plan for you explore with your horse.  This plan may include a targeted massage technique or a gentle stretching routine and is designed to complement your training goals.  Working with your horse between sessions will extend the benefits of his massage exponentially.
  6. Think prevention before cure.  Benjamin Franklin famously stated that "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  Like all health adjuncts, massage is most effective as a preventative- and maintenance-oriented therapy.  Think of it this way: if your horse's massage regimen makes him resilient to injury, you've gained months or even years of progressive training time that may otherwise have been spent rehabbing.  Schedule regularly before issues arise to ensure that your horse is always at the top of his game.