Massage for Horses: 3 Tips for Harnessing the Power of Touch

This is a guest post from Megan Ayrault, whose book on equine massage will be included in our June, 2017 SaddleBox. Please visit her website, The Power of Touch For Animals, for more great advice!

Hello Horse Lovers! Megan here, author of The Horse Lover’s Guide to Massage: What Your Horse Wants You to Know. I’d like to share with you 3 quick tips for using Touch for your horse. Tips that will add Power (not force) to the benefits for your horse when your SaddleBox arrives this month. (And bonus, you’ll benefit, too!)

Horse Massage

1. The absolute #1 most critical element to sharing bodywork and energywork (any form of positive Touch) with your horse, is the quality of your Listening. You’ll be Listening more with your eyes, your hands, and your heart and intuition, than you will with your ears. (Though if you do hear sounds, like a sigh, or tummy gurgles, or a tail swish, you can note those, too!)

Get quiet in your mind (as much as you can, it takes practice!), and focus on Being with your horse. Breathe. If you do this, all the rest will be the icing on the cake. (And true, the icing can be quite important, too. And lots of fun!)

(Note: Be sure to read pages 37-39, Top 10 Tips for Observing Your Horse’s Feedback and Patterns, so you’ll know just what to be Listening for!)

massage for horses

2. Think Positive. This means a lot of things. Mainly, it means what your Mind is doing is just as (or even more) important as what your hands are doing. Use visualization. Visualize your horse being comfortable, happy, moving gracefully and easily. Visualize beautiful colors, or scenes of nature. Visualize positive effects in the body, like muscles relaxing, heart beat slowing, blood flowing (where it’s supposed to flow, of course!).

If your horse has any “negative” reactions due to pain, worry or confusion, take note, and respond by slowing down (or even stopping any movement of your hands), softening, and if necessary, moving your hands either somewhere else on their body, or off the body (for now). This will show your horse that you’re Listening and will increase their trust and increase how much they’ll talk to you.

Be curious about their “negative” reaction, without becoming upset or reactive yourself. Keep the Energy positive with your thoughts and with your breathing.

(Note: Check out Chapter 3: How Massage Works, for 6 different ways the body responds to Touch. Any of these will give you positive physiological effects to visualize as you share Touch with your horse.)

how to massage a horse

3. DO be sure to explore Technique #9 (p 71), AND DON’T make the common mistake of forcing the wither/belly lift. (One of my pet peeves.) If your horse or pony doesn’t do the Wither Lift comfortably and fairly easily, there are ways to help them improve it without causing them pain in order to force them to react with a lift (if they even can move that way yet).

Being able to lift comfortably is an excellent sign of a healthy spine and ribs in that region of the body. Being unable to lift comfortably… well, that’s a sign of the opposite. Be sure to get a professional to help your horse (and/or one of my e-courses) with restrictions like this, if they don’t improve with whatever your skills are (so far).

Thank you for exploring TOUCH with your horse! Know that you’re making the world a better place, for horses and other animals (including humans), by learning about, and practicing, the Power of Touch.

Your Power of Touch Guide,

Megan Ayrault