History and Benefits of Equine Massage

Massage is the oldest healing modality known to humankind.  The practice of equine massage mainly owes itself to Jack Meagher.  

Jack Meagher was an American Medic during World War 2 who then went on to attend the Massachusetts School of Physical Therapy and originally chose to work exclusively with athletes working as a physical therapist for the American National Football League and it was there that he developed the technique which is now known as a 'Sports Massage'.  Sports Massages are designed to address the underlying causes of muscular problems before they become more serious injuries.

In 1985, completely by chance, Meagher became the first professional equine massage therapist.  One of his customers had an old quarter horse Meagher described as so old, he wasn't able to pick up his hind legs.  The customer asked Meagher to work his magic on the horse, and Meagher soon discovered that the horse had muscle spasms not dissimilar to that of his owner!  Meagher was later quoted saying "Well, when I got through with that horse, he was as frisky as a colt, and that got me interested enough to study horse anatomy and practice on every backyard nag I could find."

Whilst still remaining active treating humans, Meagher went on to become the first equine massage therapist for the US Olympic Equestrian Team, and at a number of World Championships internationally.  It was observed by the trainers that their mounts performed up to 20% more efficiently after receiving a massage from Meagher.  

"A muscle is a muscle," said Meagher.  In his mind, the primary concerns for any athlete, horse or human are;

  • To be as good as possible

  • To be as safe as possible

  • To last as long as possible

The benefits of equine massage therapy have since been found to be hugely beneficial to all horses by:  

  • Increasing the range of movement and stride length

  • Reducing the activity of nociceptive pain receptors

  • Reduing muscle tension and soreness

  • Reducing muscle spasm

  • Encouraging a greater flexibility and range of motion

  • Promoting an increased sense of wellbeing

  • Enhancing blood flow

  • Improving proprioception

  • Reducing stress

  • Improving posture, circulation, hair coat and muscle tone

  • Offering support to the immune system

  • Helping to prevent injury

  • Reducing fatigue

Thanks to Meagher's pioneering work, equine athletes can, and should, enjoy careers in which they perform as well, as safely, and as long as possible.

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