I’ve never been one for homeopathic remedies, always being the first to reach for chemical-filled medications when an ailment arises, but when a friend offered to give my gelding a massage I agreed. It was, of course, for free. You can’t pass up anything for free, right? This friend of mine had been trailering her horses over to ride in our arenas and happens to also be a trained shiatsu equine masseuse. I’d heard of equine massage and even read extensive articles on the benefits of massaging your horse after a long ride, but I never really gave it much thought. However, because of my gelding’s joint issues I am always up to try just about anything to relieve some of his pain. Hot Rod has high and low ringbone in both his front feet and the pain ultimately affects the rest of his body because of his overcompensation for the pain.
Last week, my friend, Erica, arrived after I had already ridden Hot Rod for the day and set to work starting at his poll. She worked her way down his neck using small, circular motions ending with a short burst of pressure using only the tips of her fingers. When she got to his shoulders, she would work her way back and forth between his muscle groups using her whole palm. When she got to his lower back he really started to show tension. He would flinch and turn to stare at us with white-rimmed eyes. This area clearly was a problem area for him. Erica talked about the how he could develop pain in his lower back due to his osteoarthritis in his feet. We also discussed saddle fit, as a poor fitting saddle can cause tremendous pain to a horse’s back. She repeated the whole process on the opposite side and then we applied a generous amount of liniment.
I was overall very pleased with the whole process. It opened my eyes to new painful areas on Hot Rod’s body that I will be very careful with in the future. For instance, he had a strange large swollen area on one side of his body. I’m pretty sure it was a kick, but I never would have noticed it and now I’ll be extra careful with the saddle until it heals. Hot Rod hung his head so low it nearly dragged on the ground as I walked him back to the pasture for the rest of the day. I could totally relate! I experience the same feeling after I have a good massage!
What impressed me the most about the massage was that every day I checked for soreness in his back following the massage, the pain seemed less and less! This morning I did a little pressure test on his lower back and he did not flinch at all! This practice is also invaluable if you have a chiropractor adjust your horse, because it will help the adjustments “stick” if you massage your horse before and after the chiropractor visit. I can now say I’m more intrigued by homeopathic remedies, and I can’t wait to start learning how to massage by myself!