1. They get a good check over for signs of illness or injury. I often point out lumps and bumps to owners that they had no idea were there. Once they are known you can keep an eye on them for changes which may indicate problems. Some areas such as around the back legs or udder can also suffer excess serum build up between the skin folds which becomes sticky – imagine how uncomfortable that must be, especially in the hot weather!
2. Circulation is improved with grooming, particularly with use of something like a rubber curry comb. This is a key benefit of massage as improved circulation means increased blood flow bringing essential nutrients to the skin and underlying muscle tissue, and removal of waste products through the lymphatic system to keep them in good health.
3. Muscle tone is one of the key changes we are trying to bring about with massage; taking the muscle tissue from a state of spasm and inflexibility to one of softness and pliability. Massage through grooming whilst not necessarily targeted to specific areas by an owner can aid this and most importantly you may notice changes in your horses behaviour over certain areas or changes in texture as you groom indicating its time you called your physio!
4. Spending time with your horse completing a positive activity such as grooming or massage helps build a bond. The greater the trust your horse has in you the easier they will cope with questions both in hand and ridden that you may ask of them.
5. Taking the time to groom thoroughly without rushing brings about relaxation of both the horse and the rider. If you are both relaxed and have let go of your worries and tensions you are likely to bring about a more positive attitude from you both. I am sometimes presented with a horse that is not keen on the idea of a stranger appearing or that ‘doesn’t like his head touched’. Yet by the end of a session incorporating massage, most will have relaxed sufficiently to make headway. Some may take a little longer, but we eventually get there.
6. Looking smart and tidy, take note at moulting time how much loose hair your therapist removes for you!! Us physios rock the yeti look!
Happy grooming, have a great week everyone!