© Lei-Anna Lauzier, 2017. All rights reserved.
2017 had many memorable moments for me. One of the most highlighted was getting the opportunity to travel to Ireland and massaging while I was there. I stayed at at a horse stable in County Claire, Ireland for a few days. There I got to ride through the mountains of the Irish country side and also work with some hard working horses.
The horses at this stable went out daily for on vigorous trails travelling down the mountain and then back up through very steep and rocky trails. I was amazed at their ability to navigate through the rocky slopes so effortlessly. We went out for a couple hours, working though all gaits on varying slopes of terrain.
When it came to massaging these horses I was expecting to find some tension and stiffness, especially in the lower back and hind end from climbing the mountains daily. Much to my surprise they had minimal tension and great muscle pliability. Their muscles were much more symmetrical then the muscles of the athletes I worked with back home. When discussing this with the owner she brought up the terrain which they worked on. They are not worked in an arena daily. They travel through varying trails which promotes symmetry within the body. Always working in an arena on a circle can lead to stiffness and imbalances in the body. Repetitive movements lead to overuse of certain muscle groups which causes adhesions and decreases range of motion. It is very important in your training to incorporate hills to fully develop the hind end muscles such as the quadriceps. Don't always work in an arena, if you have the opportunity to ride on trails, take it! Even if you only have an outdoor arena or grass field that can also help to change up your regular exercise program. Seeing the direct link between environment and the affect it has on the equine athletes body was very eye opening. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to learn from the horses of Ireland and hope to return there someday in the future.
I always make a point to incorporate stretching into my therapy sessions because I know it will increase the therapy sessions results dramatically. Stretching is when you take a muscle or set of muscles beyond its resting length to it outer range of pain free motion. A stretch is often held in this postion to allow the muscle fibres to adjust to this new length thereby releasing tension, preventing chronic shortening or adhesion formation and promoting proper fibre alignment.
Why Should You Stretch Your Horse
When to Stretch
For maintenance and prevention of injury it is essential to stretch your horse daily. More importantly always stretch them before exercise after your have warmed them up. Never stretch a cold muscle!! Always warm your horse up for at least 10-15 minutes before stretching. This can be achieved by lunging, walking, hydrotherapy or massaging the horse. I like to assign stretches to owners as home care. The stretches will be chosen specifically to target the horses problem areas. It is important to follow the techniques I have demonstrated. Performing stretches incorrectly may result in injury. For proper form and further instruction on different stretches please contact me and we can discuss it at your horses next massage.