My Horse's reaction to massage - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 02-25-2011, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Canada
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My Horse's reaction to massage

Hi, so I had a massage therapist give my horse Sunny a massage yesterday. He has high withers and issues with canter. So I was sure he's had ill fitting saddles on him for the most part because I'm having problems finding a nice fit for him.

Anyway, he was really receptive to the massage. He did a lot or releasing during it especially when she worked his neck. When she worked his tail he had a response. This is what he did. It started with him doing the Flehmen response and tossing his head around. Then looking scared, backing away and then gave a kick back and a few tail swishes. He then was obsessed with smelling our hands. The therapist and i just stroked and reassured him until he calmed down. She said this can happen and he had some pain or fear memory being worked out.

Anyone have this happen or any therapists on here to explain this more indepth to me.

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post #2 of 6 Old 02-25-2011, 06:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: northeast Pennsylvania
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My appy has a lot of trust issues and doesn't like the massage, when i had the MT out a few months ago she couldn't do any further back then his shoulder and even as much as she did was a struggle, when she did his neck he could shake his head and try to bite, he was ok for his face being worked on, that was about the only thing he didn't respond negativity to, he wasn't bad for his shoulders and front legs, but if we tried anywhere on his back or but he would kick, she said he is the stiffest horse she has ever worked on, come spring i'm really going to start working with him and allowing me to touch him, sheath cleaning should be interesting
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post #3 of 6 Old 02-25-2011, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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haha oh yes, we are going to be sheath cleaning as soon as the weather gets Hope your guy can work out his issues. Sounds like he found a good home with you! :)
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post #4 of 6 Old 02-25-2011, 08:29 PM
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Nelson gets a massage once a week, to once every other week - depending on what he needs. HE LOVES THEM! He responds very well to his sessions, and his movement improves clear as day.

There is a time when Nelson has the same sorta response, when she does the work in his shoulder blades. She will roll her fingers right into the blade, and he will roll his eyes and yawn repeatedly while stretching his neck out.

Perhaps when she was working with his tail - the tail pull, that maybe she released tension, or triggered a sore spot *when you pull the tail, it makes the topline tense up*? I am unsure.

But I can most definately ask my Massage Therapist and see what she says. We're friends on FB. Her business on FB is "Free Motion Equine" perhaps you can send her a message and ask what she thinks?

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post #5 of 6 Old 02-26-2011, 08:31 AM
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I had a wonderful older TB ex-event horse in my barn (looked a little like Nelson, MIE) and I loved to watch the MT work on him. He loved it, and would grunt, groan and sigh during the massage. He would also lean into the MT's pressure when she found a sore spot. After she did his neck, he would stretch out, do a little Flehman's, and shake his head and neck like a dog. At the end of the massage his head would be almost on the ground, with his lower lip hanging and drooling.

His owner paid for more MT than he probably actually needed (though not a concept I recognize for myself) because the old guy enjoyed it so much.

In contrast, my own horse at the time was one that didn't even like to be groomed, had to be sedated for clipping and the only place he would tolerate massage was his head. He didn't even like the light top of the neck massage I routinely do when warming up.
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post #6 of 6 Old 02-27-2011, 10:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
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It is a pretty common response to relief of pain. It is quite normal for a horse to lean into the massage, relax, drop their heads to the ground and of course, tail talk and pin ears. A good massage feels good at the end but not always through the actual massage.

If this was his first massage ever, it wouldn't be uncommon for him to have a slightly negative (cow kick, tail swishing) reaction. I have felt knots almost the size of a small fist. That isn't going to feel good coming out and its not going to feel good the next day...but 2 days later, he'll be prancing like a 6 month old!
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