By Paige Cerulli, Certified Equine Massage Therapist
We all know that massage can make a horse more comfortable and can even help him to better perform under saddle. But did you know that pre-event massage can be used to help prepare your horse for an event, speeding up his warm-up and potentially resulting in a better athletic performance? Here’s what you need to know about pre-event massage for your horse.
What Is Pre-Event Massage?
Pre-event massage takes place just before your horse is getting ready to compete. Pre-event massage typically takes place right on the competition grounds, and it is a bit different from the standard massage that you would perform on your horse. Regular massages typically help to relax the horse, work out muscle knots, and relieve tension. When performing a regular massage, you often use slow, deep strokes. A pre-event massage, on the other hand, seeks to increase blood flow throughout your horse’s body and to help “wake up” the muscles in preparation for exercise. During a pre-event massage, you use short, brisk, fast strokes to help prepare the muscles.
Why Pre-Event Massage Matters
Pre-event massage helps to warm up your horse’s muscles. It can help to reduce muscle spasms and tension, allowing your horse to move more freely and effectively. By massaging your horse before a major event, you are helping to set him up for success. In many disciplines, including dressage, jumping, and barrel racing, your horse being able to properly and freely use his body can mean the difference between winning and not.
Tips for Performing a Pre-Event Massage
If you plan on performing a pre-event massage, the following tips may help:
Using a Posture Prep Cross Fiber Groomer is the most effective way to pre-event massage.
- Start Early
Make sure that you leave yourself enough time to do a complete massage on your horse before you need to start tacking up and warming up.
- Begin With Broad, Long Strokes
Begin your massage by performing broad, longer strokes all over your horse’s body. This helps to promote blood circulation and serves as a great beginning for the massage.
- Use Short, Fast Strokes
Next, progress to using shorter, faster strokes to increase blood flow and warm up the body. The act of compressing and releasing a muscle is followed by a rush of blood to the muscle, so focus on major muscle groups with this technique.
- Use the Posture Prep Groomer
The Posture Prep Groomer can help with a pre-event massage, while also saving you some effort. Use the tool to provide cross-fiber friction all over your horse’s body, especially focusing on the major muscle groups.
- Release Tight Areas
If you encounter tight areas during your massage, take the time to focus on those areas to help release the tight muscles. Once the area has released, proceed with your massage but check the area again before completing the massage.
- Touch Up Your Grooming
Be sure to leave yourself time to touch up your grooming job before you have to tack up. If you have bathed your horse the day before the show, the massage shouldn’t bring too much dirt to the surface of your horse’s coat, but you will need to brush his coat back down and run a rub rag over him to shine him up again.
There are countless benefits to performing a pre-event massage. Don’t forget that performing a post-event massage can also help your horse’s muscles to recover from the exertion, reducing the soreness and stiffness that he may feel the next day.