Equine Massage and bodywork can greatly improve performance, wellbeing and movement of any horse. Equine massage and bodywork can aid in eliminating muscle pain, stiffness and tension in muscles and connective tissues, can prevent and disolve painful muscle spasms, soreness, help overcome soft tissue adhesions around joints and vertrebrae and resulting performance issues.
Practiced on race tracks, during international competitions, on the show circuit and in equine rehabilitation centers, equine massage and bodywork has long become an important element of a comprehensive wellness program for horses.
What is the Masterson Method™ and
how is it different from other equine massage methods?
The Masterson Method™ - also called Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork™ - was developed by Jim Masterson, equine massage therapist for the US Equestrian Team (endurance) 2006/2008/2010, specifically to address tensions and restrictions that reside deep inside the horse's anatomy in the three key junctions that most affect performance.
Reaching restrictions that are located in deeper areas of the horse's body, where massaging hands cannot reach, requires an interactive process where the horse enables the practitioner to release soft tissue by practically voluntarily surrendering limbs, for example, to the practitioner. The practitioner then is able to move the joints around their natural range of motion in a relaxed state and address issues in deep seated muscles, for example the psoas muscles.
The key to this method is that the horse will be encouraged to trust the practitioner to an extent that allows this type of work. This type of bodywork is only effective, if the horse is relaxed and doesn't resist. A Masterson Method™ student first learns to overcome the horse's fight or flight instinct and to engage him in this interactive dialogue. This not only yields amazing results in view of performance and physical ability, but also opens the door to an intimate interaction with a horse that creates a level of trust, which spills over into all other activities with the horse.
To find a certified Masterson Method™ practitioner, please visit Jim Masterson's website.
Why and how does bodywork for horses work?
The anatomy in question...
Horses are incredible athletes. About 60% of a horses body weight is muscle. The horse actually uses just about EVERY muscle in its body with every step! The horse is one of natures most effective athletes and optimally designed for its natural environment as a forager and prey animal, who walks great distances grazing and runs and sprints when danger approaches. The horse is made to be constantly in motion, to mostly sleep and doze while standing up, to dash off at an instance notice and to graze for most of his day holding his head to the ground.
The human factor...
We humans ask the horse to perform many tasks that it would not perform in it's natural environment. We are asking him to pull loads up to 9 times his body weight, carry saddles and riders, respond to demands, overcome his natural fears and perform movements repeatedly, which he would most likely never perform in his natural habitat. Examples are repeated lateral work, jumping and the mere fact that we are asking the horse to carry an additional load on his back - the rider. Stall kept horses are often fed at eye level and no longer carry their head low to the ground for hours, as nature intended. This abundance of rather unnatural activity can cause the horse to develop muscle stiffness, muscle spasms, soft tissue adhesions, and resulting discomfort or pain that leads to performance issues, pain related behavior problems in horses and even to lameness or refusal to perform certain exercises or movements. Back pain, stiffness, asymmetry and soreness are recurring issues.
How to tell whether your horse is in discomfort or restricted...
The following symptoms can be signs that your horse is suffering from restricting muscular stiffness, painful muscle spasms, soft tissue adhesions or soreness:
- limited range of motion, not fully engaging limbs, not stepping under, not extending
- refusal to take a lead
- unwilling to change gaits
- horse hollows the back
- horse throws head up during gait changes
- horse looks 'disconnected' (hind and front not moving in unison)
- bucking or crow hopping
- not relaxing or rounding etc.
Professionally practiced Equine Massage and Bodywork for Horses can help to...
- Increase the bloodflow to muscles
- Release tensions in soft tissues around joints and vertrebrae
- Break up soft tissue adhesions and muscle spasms
- Encourage muscle development
- Relax connective tissues
- Improve muscular flexibility
- Activate the self healing mechanism of the horse's body
The results are...
- Improved range of free motion
- Improved performance and gait quality
- Prevention of injuries to muscles and ligaments
- Maintenance of good muscle tone and wellness
- Relaxation of the horse and contribution to mental soundness
- Accelerated recovery from soft tissue injury
A horse that is massaged on a regular basis is less likely to develop painful muscle spasms, restrictions in soft tissue and effected joints and resulting performance limitations. A horse that is suffering from muscular tension, spasms and discomfort can reclaim free range of motion, improve performance and gait quality and perform to the best of his ability after receiving professional equine massage and bodywork. Results can often be observed after only one session.
I am a certified Masterson Method™ practitioner. The Masterson Method™ of Integrated Equine Performance Bodywork has proven effective on literally thousands of horses on the international show and competition circuit and on racetracks. To learn more about me and my practice please visit my about page. For examples of success stories, please visit the testimonials page.
Please contact me for an appointment or with questions.
ctfd. Masterson Method™ Practictioner, MMCP and Instructor
*) Please note: Equine massage and bodywork is a non-invasive, gentle wellness modality aimed at enhancing performance in the healthy horse and never replaces proper veterinary care. If in doubt regarding the physical health of your horse please consult your veterinarian.