Some images used in this web site are reproduced by the kind permission of Horse and Rider Magazine, Bob Langrish and Stephanie Armstrong
For a minimum of physical exertion on your part you can purchase various battery operated massagers such as the freedom massager from Horse and Rider medics. You can work over the muscles of the back each side avoiding the spine, over the rump again avoiding any bony areas and down each side of the neck keeping to the muscles. This can also be a useful way to desensitise a horse that dislikes the clippers but always introduce a massager with care as some horses can be spooked by the noise and sensation.
For a more hands on approach you can carry out a few simple massage or stroking techniques that will relax your horse, help with your relationship and also familiarise you with how your horse body feels so you can pick up and monitor any changes. Start with a long sweeping stroke, start on the neck and stroke with the flat of the hand running over each area of muscle 5 to 10 times, gradually work your way over the shoulder, back, rump and down the hindquarters. With the first few strokes move the hands slowly with reasonably firm pressure noting any temperature variation or changes in tone of the muscles, i.e. does any area feel tighter or knotted. Then you can speed up the stroke finishing with one slow stroke to calm the area before moving to the next area. Over the muscles each side of the back and over the rump you can do some cupping strokes. Form your hand into a cup shape, as if you were going to scoop up some water from a bucket. Then with the hand palm facing down repeatedly and lightly tap the muscles, gradually working along the body. If the hand is held correctly you will hear a hollow clapping sound with each tap. Keep your wrists soft and supple. Finish the session with a few of the long sweeping stokes over the whole body to calm the areas.
This can be carried out daily or just ‘now and again’ as maintenance. Massage is particularly useful after traveling, heavy training sessions or competitions.