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  • Does my horse need a massage?
    Most horses in any stage of life, of any breed or lifestyle can benefit from massage therapy and bodywork. Massage and bodywork is a critical preventative method for overall health, whether the horse is a companion or in regular activity (working, competing, or lessoning with many different levels of riders, etc.). Most equines carry some muscle tension from repetitive motions, stressors, muscle weakness, confirmation flaws, environment, or influence from tack and weight-bearing. Horses may get used to functioning in a limited or even painful way, and initial areas of restriction or dysfunction often cause the body to compensate in other areas—when one part of the body is weakened, another region must work harder. Horses conceal pain in their nature as prey animals; Issues often go undetected until the symptoms become exaggerated or extreme. Routine maintenance massage may help prevent and resolve ailments before they become more serious and begin to risk considerably altering multiple body systems, performance, behavior, and human/horse safety. Signs or behaviors of discomfort—pinning ears, prolonged widening/closing of the eye, biting, kicking, evasion, head tossing or shaking; “girthy,” cold backed, swishing, wringing, clamping or carrying the tail atypically; deviations in posture or gait (cannot maintain gaits, short-strides, stiffness, stumbling, drags toes); refusing or reluctance to being touched or performing tasks; or changes in attitude (i.e. depression, stress, anxiety, irritability or lethargy)—are not typical horse behaviors and are highly likely to reflect musculoskeletal pain and or lameness (Dyson S., Pollard D., 2020). Additionally, just because a horse is performing well, does not necessary mean that he is clinically sound. Equine massage and bodywork provides the horse an opportunity to present their individual needs, especially those needs that may otherwise go unnoticed or ignored (e.g. "my horse has always done that" or "that's just they way they are.") Massage can be a powerful tool in any equine wellness and longevity program, as a valuable noninvasive modality. Equine massage and bodywork is not a substitution for veterinary care. Dyson S, Pollard D. Application of a Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram and Its Relationship with Gait in a Convenience Sample of 60 Riding Horses. Animals (Basel). 2020;10(6):1044. Published 2020 Jun 17. doi:10.3390/ani10061044
  • How do massage and bodywork affect the whole horse?
    Massage and bodywork supports the whole body in mechanical, chemical or neurological responses and affects multiple body systems including the circulatory, nervous, musculoskeltal, digestive and respiratory systems. Effects on the Circulatory System - Increases venous and lymphatic flow, which increases tissue perfusion and drainage (i.e. clears metabolic waste, tissue damage and inflammation, increases oxygen and nutrient delivery to tissues and cells). - Fluid mobilization reduces edema, bruising, congestion and helps normalize circulation in various injury/disease states. - Releases fascial tension, muscle spasms, and restrictive scarring on circulatory flow. - Helps reduce blood pressure through increased flow of blood to peripheral tissues and general relaxation. - Induces parasympathetic response, which causes slowing and strengthening of the heart beat. Effects on the Nervous System - Generalized relaxation response reduces heart rate and nerve firing and may release impingement of peripheral nerves (leading to the reduction of pain). - Promotes parasympathetic response and reduces the body’s time spent in sympathetic overdrive (a response activated during perceived stress. If the nervous system stays in a prolonged sympathetic state, elevated levels of cortisol/stress can lead to organ and tissue damage.) Effects on the Musculoskeletal System - Increases nutrient supply and reduces waste product accumulation in both soft and hard tissues. - Helps realignment and breakdown of scar tissue to reduce adhesions (knots) in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Eliminates trigger points that may cause fascial restrictions. - Maintains and improves the range of motion. - Addresses compensatory changes in injury situations (recalibrates and balances the body’s muscle groups). - Promotes better posture. - Promotes better proprioception and awareness that may improve athletic abilities and performance. - Overall relaxation decreases muscle tension. Effects on the Digestive System - Assists reflex stimulation of peristalsis (the series of muscle contractions that occur in the digestive tract). - Stimulation of parasympathetic state (responsible for "rest and digest") supports healthy digestive tract activity. - Decreased fascial tension (related to the lower thoracic and lumbar spine) helps facilitate vagal nerve communication from and to various digestive organs. Effects on the Respiratory System - Induction of parasympathetic response produces deeper, more efficient breathing, which may decreases symptoms of some respiratory tract diseases. - Encouragement of deeper breathing improves diaphragm function and promotes exchange in the alveoli/capillary beds. - Improves nerve feed to the lungs and related tissue. - Lessening the hypertonicity and trigger points in the thoracic muscles increases thoracic mobility.
  • Are there any contraindications to bodywork and massage?
    Yes. If your horse has undiagnosed lameness or an acute injury, it is in the horse’s best interest to be seen first by your veterinarian. Please obtain written clearance from the attending veterinarian that it is safe to proceed with bodywork prior to the session. Other contraindications to bodywork may include, but are not limited to: cancer, cardiovascular disease, colic, dangerous behaviors, fever, hemorrhaging, neuritis (radiating nerve pain), persistent undiagnosed pain, recent surgeries and skin diseases (including rain rot).
  • How should my horses and I prepare for the session?
    Scheduling your session during downtime hours (e.g. away from feeding times and commotion/heavy activity) will promote your horse's greatest response to treatment. If your horse is being exercised prior to his session, please allow him time between treatment. Please ensure that your horse is thoroughly groomed and dry before the treatment begins. If your horse is not clean prior to the treatment a $25.00 cleaning/grooming fee will apply. Please provide a clean, level, and safe work environment free from hazards. A safe and clean work space must be provided for services to be rendered.
  • Do I need to be present for the entire session?
    No.* If you cannot attend the full session (generally 45 minutes to 90 minutes) or if you have other matters to attend to, your horse can be treated while you are elsewhere, as long as it is safe to do so. *A competent handler and person with knowledge of the health history and current activity of the horse is required for your first appointment.
  • What can I expect from the first evaluation and treatment?
    Your horse’s first session begins with a background of your horse’s history, current activities, and any of your concerns/goals. Your horse may be assessed on their conformation and their locomotion in-hand or at liberty at the walk and or trot, turning and or backing up. Additional observation on the lunge, long line or ridden may be appropriate in some cases, as well as a checkup on vitals (temperature, respiration, pulse). The treatment may begin with warming up the muscles through hand walking and or effleurage and include palpation and assessment of joint flexion/extension. Treatment continues with massage and bodywork on noted areas of concern, and incorporates a variety of techniques depending on what your horse requires and accepts. You horse is continually assessed physically and psychologically to ensure that the treatment is effective and enjoyable for your horse. Most horses relax within minutes; some may require additional time or support to relax. Your horse is always treated with respect, patience and empathy. The session may take place in the environment your horse is most comfortable in, as long as the work space is safe and free from hazards. Most clients choose to tie their horse in the barn or paddock. You may choose to have the horse in-hand, or untied in his stall. At minimum a halter and lead rope are required. Please allow up to 2 hours for your initial assessment and treatment. Most sessions are between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the horse’s needs and response. Following treatment, it is generally recommended that your horse have 1-3 days off (if he is in work/training) or resume light exercise the following day. If possible, your horse should be given room to walk and stretch following treatment, rather than being stalled. Please provide free access to water (unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian). Suggested exercises, activities and support may be offered to enhance treatment and or recovery, as well as referrals to be seen by a veterinarian, dentist, chiropractor, farrier or other equine professional.
  • How will my horse respond to treatment?
    A horse’s response (especially at their first treatment) varies. Some horses relax quickly after an initial curiosity about what they are experiencing. Others may have areas of their body that are “touch shy” or tender and require more time to adjust. Horses who have trauma or chronic pain may react defensively or even aggressively at first. After the initial treatment or appropriate time for the horse to acclimate, most horses become comfortable quickly and enjoy further or future treatments. Some horses even fall asleep during treatment or participate more actively in their treatment by willful stretching or presenting areas of restriction. It is my goal that your horse enjoy his time with me, be comfortable and respected during treatment. I am happy to work with fearful or defensive horses, within my area of expertise, but may decline or terminate the treatment should the situation become dangerous for the horse or myself. It is the obligation of the horse owner and or caretaker to communicate any known (treated or historical) health or behavioral issues.
  • Might my horse be sore after treatment?
    Though certain types of treatment may cause post-treatment soreness or delayed onset muscle soreness, treatment is administered with the intent to not cause soreness. Any suspected soreness will be discussed at the time of the appointment. Treatment may be adjusted to prevent healing responses that may cause tenderness in case of planned travel, events or upcoming competitions.
  • When will I see results?
    Although many people will notice positive results in their horse after the first session, your horse may require multiple sessions to address areas of concerns. Many first-time horses respond well to being seen once a week for 4 sessions, however recommendations for frequency of treatment are dependent on each unique horse. To maintain the achieved improvements and keep your horse feeling and functioning at his best, maintenance sessions are recommended every 1-3 months depending on his activities and lifestyle. It is important to note that because the comprehensive horse is influenced by his own conformation, environmental factors, rider influence, training, management and overall health, some goals may need a team approach to elicit a greater response.
  • Can I schedule my horse's treatment before or after a competition, clinic or other strenuous activity?
    Treatment can be adjusted accordingly should you require treatment within a few days of a clinic, lesson, or show. In general, it is recommended to provide your horse with 24-36 hours of relative rest or limited, light exercise after a deep tissue treatment to allow the horse's body time to respond and adjust.
  • What is your service area?
    The service area for one horse includes an approximate 30-mile radius around St. Louis County (including Missouri and Illinois areas). Greater distances may be considered on an individual basis with mutually agreed upon terms and conditions. Distances beyond the 30-mile radius may be subject to a nominal travel fee starting at $5. Travel fees may be waived for greater distances if multiple horses are scheduled at the same location.
  • What are your rates?
    All single sessions including your initial session are billed at $80 per equine. (Most sessions are between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the horse’s needs and response. Your horse's first session and evaluation may be closer to 1.5 hours.) A 15% discount of $45 is applied when investing in a four session package for maintenance, performance, or rehabilitation needs. Package discount only applies when sessions are booked at a 4 week intervals or less. Recommendations to frequency of treatment are individual and may be suggested by BriAnn or your vet. Full payment for service/s and or any travel fees is due at or before the time of service by cash or check only. Please see "what is your service area" for travel fees when the requested service extends beyond the service radius.
  • What if I need to cancel my session?
    Sometimes situations may arise were you need to cancel you appointment at short notice. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please cancel or reschedule within 24 hours of your session. Failure to cancel or reschedule within 24 hours, or if you miss the appointment or are late to an appointment, may result in a missed appointment fee of up to 100% of the service fee. Your appointment time has been reserved and set aside to serve your horse’s and other horse’s needs. In the rare case of rescheduling or appointment delay, Equine Integrated Therapy will contact you as soon as the schedule has been impacted.
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