How Does a Horse React to Treatment?


Below is various comments from people who completed stage two massage course. This was part of the assignment to observe the horses body language during a massage session and to comment on this. As you can see each horse shows different signs due to pain orpleasure.

Ewok, has a really sore chest area, shes a new horse so I massaged her before we tested her out, she comes from a rodeo, sport horse backround finishing easter time. Her signs were very clear, she would lift her back leg and stomp it on the ground, she would also bite the yard rail toshow you her discomfort but not near you on the opposite side you were on, but as I released her tight muscles she started chewing gently (trying to scratch me back) and droping her head to were at one stage it was resting on the ground, I found her problem wasn?t just on her chest butdeep into her wither area and shoulders. It helped knowing her past job to, it gave me a bit of an insight as to where she might be sore.
Penny Bushell, Gisborne

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This horse has never had a massage. He moved a lot at first. There was lifting of the back legs. This is due to sore, tender muscles and maybe lactic acid in the muscles due to over exercise or lack of warm up/down and lack of stretching after exercise. I made sureI was aware of my pressure. I could tell the horse released as he was yawning, licking of the lips and became sleepy.
Adele Watkins, Papamoa

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When treating Jet, particularly when releasing the tight muscles under and in front of the tuber coxae he will often lean into the pressure and relax the muscles by unweighting the leg in order to get the most stretch from my pressure. At first he is rather tenderabout any massage over the top of the biceps femoris but as the medial glutes and the iliac are released he begins to accept more massage over this area. Release is indicated by the general feel of the muscles becoming more supple and pliable. The horse tends to rock as the musclesbecome more elastic and he sometimes spontanteously stretches and\or yarns and shakes.

After releasing the hinquarters and back, if I ask for a lumbar stretch he will hold the stretch for quite a while after removing the prompts to ask him to do it. When working on Jet?s neck, particularly the atlas joint (which has limited mobility) he will yawn vigorously, blinkingexaggeratedly and shake his head vigorously.
Vivien Dostine, Auckland

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When I am treating my horse, the positive signs he gives me are lowering his head, licking his lips and yawning. This shows that he was relaxing as he was being treated and enjoying it. He will also push into me if he wants me to work harder in a certain area. WhenI am stretching him he will push into me if he wants more of a stretch and will hold it there himself. After having his neck worked on, he will move the treated area around more as if he his testing his new range of motion. When I am working on a tight area in his back or hindquarters,his muscles will jump if I put to much pressure through them. After I have massaged these areas and apply the same amount of pressure the muscle shouldn?t jump/spasm, and this is how I know if the area has released well. I can also use range of motion through joints to find out if themuscle has released successfully. Using these range of motion tests and stretches I can compare the quality of movement through the joint before and after treatment.
Emily King, Auckland

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Cass 15.2hh welsh/cob Tbx, about 13 years old used for light showing, dressage and hacking. He is a very sensitive horse and has always been slightly girthy. He holds his tension through his neck. He has had different types of other work done on him with nosignificant changes.
I started working on Cass as taught and on palpation noticed he was a little sore in the back end and really tight in the neck, good through saddle areas.
While working on Cass I noticed especially when doing the rib release how tight he was in this area, he gave lots of signs such as lots of licking and chewing and yawning. Cass was giving me all the signs as indicated when he was getting muscle release and I could feel the change undermy fingers while doing so ...................
Cass was also tight in the chest muscles and up the neck and he very much enjoyed the work on these areas and gave signs as above, he was wary of the poll release and that took a little convincing but I'm not 100% sure I got it right, however he did relax into.
I especially noticed the huge change when I got on two days later for a quiet ride. Cass wasn't girthy like he had been although you could tell he was waiting for some form of pain that if there was any wasn't on any significant level...... While walking him out to girth him up he neverreacted in his "crab like" walk and when mounted he walked out the best he ever had, and he was much softer and suppler in the neck too.
Nicolette Buchanan, Christchurch



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