Equine massage benefits on sport horses

Sport horses are athletes, who are training towards a certain goal. They are in training approximately 6 days a week, and attend shows that can last multiple days. Intense training is hard on the muscles, and they require proper recovery in order to keep performing on the top level. For instance, equine massage and body work, such as stretching and PEMF, can provide excellent benefits for recovery and performance.

A top performing horse is not at the top by chance. Getting to the top requires excellent training, proper nutrition, and sufficient recovery.

What are the benefits of equine massage?

Equine massage therapy is a popular form of recovery on sport horses as well as leisure horses. In fact, regular massage sessions are a simple and a fairly inexpensive way to help your horse to recover from hard work. In addition to recovery, equine massage can help in injury prevention.

The only way a muscle grows is by breaking of the muscle tissue. The breaking of it happens when resistance training is performed. This causes micro-tears in muscles, that are then repaired by protein that the horse received from nutrition. In this process, the horse can experience stiffness, lactic acid build-up, tension, and tender muscles. Equine massage and other body work are wonderful ways to help relieve these symptoms.

The benefits of equine massage include, for instance:

  • Increased blood flow

  • Softer and more supple muscle tissue

  • Relief of muscle tension and stiffness

  • Improved joint flexibility

  • Improved range of motion

Additionally, regular equine massage sessions help you to notice possible problem areas before they result in bigger issues.

Equine massage sessions paired with PEMF

While many competitive riders provide their horses with regular massage sessions, some also combine the sessions with PEMF treatments. PEMF, or Pulsed Electromagnetic Field, is a form of magnetic therapy that emits electromagnetic waves at different frequencies in order to stimulate and encourage your body's natural recovery process.

In fact, over 2000 studies have shown that PEMF treatments on horses can help to ease stiffness, prevent injuries, and encourage the natural healing process on horses. For instance, while equine massage therapy helps in recovery of the muscles, PEMF can help encourage the recovery process of joint and tendon issues, wounds, and visible injuries.

Massage therapy and PEMF can be combined while you are dealing with a healthy horse (no fever, no wounds, no injuries). However, PEMF on its own can be performed even when your horse is healing from surgery or injuries (such as cuts and wounds). In fact, PEMF can even help with hoof abscess and other issues.

What do riders say?

Arvi Martikainen, an aspiring eventing rider from Finland, says he treats his horse Sessa at least once a month with equine massage therapy sessions.

- A horse is a big animal with a lot of muscle mass. When a horse trains nearly every day, it is inevitable that they will experience muscle stiffness. Also, I believe that when you treat your horse regularly with massage therapy and chiropractic sessions, it prevents injuries and bigger issues in the future. It may help you to save some money in a long run too, Martikainen says.

According to Dressage Today, Charlotte DuJardin's Mount St John Freestyle also gets treated with equine massage therapy regularly. In addition, he gets to enjoy a massage rug daily.

Other forms of equine body work

In addition to equine massage therapy and PEMF, many riders stretch their horses daily before and/or after riding. Also, chiropractic treatments and acupuncture have become increasingly popular among riders in the past years. Simply put, the attention paid to preventative care has increased, which ultimately results in happier and healthier, better performing horses.