Massage is a beneficial addition to your horse’s care plan for an endless number of reasons. Whether your horse is used for recreational purposes, competitive purposes, is still a youngster and hasn’t started their career, or is enjoying their golden years of retirement, massage therapy adapts its techniques and approaches to suit your horse’s needs and to increase their quality of life. Your horse’s potential can be realized and magnified once your horse joins a massage therapy program with Equi-SMART.
Massage therapy is complementary in its nature to your horse’s body. Working to bring the horse’s body to a state of balance requires fluid, strong, and relaxed movement as your horse navigates and maneuvers terrains both in their natural environments as well as artificial footings such as arenas and stable flooring.
Massage aims to care for the muscular system of the horse, which is the main catalyst for movement. The brain of the horse uses electric messages wired through neurons through the nervous system to the muscles in order to initiate movement through contractions and extensions. Joints, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and other tissues facilitate these movements and maintain the structure of the body during motion.
Impacts from the horse’s surrounding environment as well as impacts from within their own body affect their muscular health, and so massage works to constantly return the body to balance. Equi-SMART also firmly believes in a team approach and works closely with other practitioners to maintain the other tissue systems within the body as needed, and use a network approach built with similar and complimentary philosophies and education.
If a horse suffers from muscular damage but does not receive massage therapy, their muscles which will likely be stuck in a phase of contraction or extension, will not return to relaxation and will become fatigued and eventually weakened or damaged. Eventually, other areas of the body begin to compensate, including other tissues such as joints, tendons and ligaments. If these tissues fatigue and the body can no longer compensate, the horse may become unsound. This is why massage therapy is recommended even before issues are visible.
Massage offers these benefits, plus more:
*Identify over-working or under-working muscles and muscle groups
*Identify patterns between training issues and physical limitations
*Increase range of motion and joint mobility
*Increase muscle tone
*Releases tension and relaxes the muscles
*Triggers nervous system to respond and initiate healing on each part of the body that is worked with
*Decreases recovery time and fatigue after injuries or stressful levels of work (such as competitions, long trailer rides, concentrated training programs)
SMARTcert Conditioning Programs offers these benefits, plus more:
*Identify your horse’s athletic weaknesses and set achievable goals and an individualized plan to reach them
*Increase your horse’s muscle tone and range of motion on a progressive scale
*Begin to strengthen your horse’s weaknesses through progressive exercises and massage therapy treatments
*Train with respect to nervous system responses so that your horse is not working while in a “flight or fight” response mode
*Learn how to target specific muscle groups during workouts
*Create soft connection and light response to aid pressure for a softer and more enjoyable ride
*Utilize cross-training methods to improve your horse’s muscular strength, stamina and stability for better performance at liberty and under saddle
*Multiply and magnify your horse’s talents and capabilities as they outperform their limitations with ease and relaxations
Behavioral symptoms that massage therapy can treat for causes of pain:
*Lack of symmetry in gaits
*Unsoundness/limits in ranges of motion
*Lack of flexion
*Leaning on/Avoiding the bit
*Missing leads/Missing lead changes/Swapping leads
*Lack of forward motion/Excess forward motion
*Ask about other symptoms
As a certified equine sports massage therapist, Melissa Caccamo has accumulated the knowledge and experience to assess horses with any degree of pain or injury, and provides honest insight to help guide the owner in the right direction. Often involving a team of practitioners, including the horse’s overseeing veterinarian, Melissa works to provide a holistic approach of body work and reconditioning program to return the horse to a level of work that is suitable and appropriate for their athletic capabilities.
Helping owners achieve their goals and succeed through incredibly wide varieties of accomplishments both recognized through awards and personal achievements has been a longstanding passion of Melissa’s. Through carefully selected and completed educational ventures, Melissa has demonstrated that she has given the time and dedication and has achieved the knowledge and testimonials to validate that her methods are versatile, successful, and beneficial to all horses.