FAQs for Equine Bodywork

How often does my horse need Equine Bodywork?

This really does depend on the work level of the horse and how they respond to it.

In an ideal world:

  •  A leisure horse or senior/retired horse would benefit every 8-12 weeks
  • A horse in training and low level competition would benefit every 6-8 weeks
  • A horse in moderate training and mid level competition would benefit every 4-6
  • If competing and training intensively they will benefit every 2-4 weeks
  • And a Grand Prix/top level horse will benefit every 1-2 weeks during periods when peak performance is expected

Of course these are ideal world scenarios and in reality it really does depend on your schedule and budget.

You will learn what works best for your horse depending on how they respond.

Incorporating bodywork as part of the regular maintenance routine is great for injury preventioin, so a little investment could keep your training more consistent and those vet visits less regular.

How long does an Equine Bodywork session last?

An initial consultation takes between 1 ½ – 2 hours, as a full postural, conformation and movement analysis will take place before beginning a full bodywork session.

Follow ups take between 1-1 ½ hours

Will my horse be sore after an Equine Bodywork session?

When massaging, it causes the same level of micro-tears to the muscles as experienced during intense exercise. So your horse may well feel like they’ve really hit the gym for a couple of days afterwards, especially if they are new to massage.

This will vary depending on how much deep tissue work has been needed in the session

The more used to massage the horse gets, the quicker they will recover and also the less intensive massage they would need.

Can I ride afterward my Equine Bodywork session?

Movement is good after a session to help reprogram muscle memory and to flush out toxins to prevent lactic acid build up, thus helping them to feel freer the next day and recover quicker.

Light exercise, ie. a short walking hack or a gently stretchy schooling session of roughly 1/3 the intensity you would usually work them.

If you know the horse won’t recreate the grand national, then turnout is the most ideal form of movement post massage.

You will get to know what works best for your horse, as some horses are stuffy for a couple of days, whilst others feel quite fresh or wobbly, before rebalancing.

I’d advise leaving at least 3-4 days before competition after a massage

What will the Equine Bodywork session entail?

After taking a full history of the horse and discussing their current routine and lifestyle, an analysis of posture, conformation and movement will take place. Sometimes I will ask to see the horse on the lunge or ridden and sometimes a look at tack fit too. I will then perform a full bodywork session which combines sports massage, myofascial release. As well as range of motion techniques, passive and active stretching, pressure. Finally trigger point work to release areas of tension, increase stride length, relax and relieve tight sensitive muscles and reduce asymmetries by allowing the horse to work more freely and evenly.

I will then advise on stretches, massage techniques and exercises that you as the owner/rider can perform. To further release areas of tension, increase suppleness and improve the horse’s symmetry by strengthening their weaker areas between sessions.

Do I need to be there?

For an initial session it is advisable and helpful for you to be there to discuss the history and your goals, however, if you can’t be there this discussion can be done over the phone and a trusted handler can be there in your place.

What if my horse isn’t any better post treatment?

Sometimes it can take a few, close together massages to peel back the layers of compensation muscle and release the route cause.

It can also take a couple of days for the horse to recover and adapt to the new range of motion available to them after the bodywork session.

I often advise for tack to be seen by a master saddler in the weeks after starting to have bodywork for your horse, as they will start to change shape and so the tack may need tweaking. In addition, the horse can only move as well as the tack fits.

I like to work as part of a team and often work in conjunction with a McTimoney Chiropractor as the two treatments work well together. If I feel my sessions are not making a difference then I would refer you to a different form of treatment as well.