Rolling eyeballs and sly snickering…

As I continue to put the pieces in place for expanding my business I have come across an unexpected, yet rather common, response to my conversations about equine massage therapy (EMT).  I have been surprised by the reactions of some fellow horse owners that I have known for years, and who have seen my horses develop over a long period of time.  I seem to precipitate a good bit of eye rolling, chuckling and slight head-shaking when I mention EMT.  I have wondered why, so my curiosity had me asking questions…

It seems that the most common perception of EMT is a person getting paid to “rub a horse’s butt.”  That the EMT is a “feel good” activity for a horse but is not considered a therapy.  And some were firm in the belief that the techniques are simplistic and superficial.  Oh my…

The first question I asked people with this opinion was: “Have you ever had a massage from a master human massage therapist?”  The answer was always “No.”  The people who were interested in EMT and curious to see the changes in their horses after massage consistently had had their own experiences of massage being helpful for them.  Interesting, isn’t it?

I did some thinking… As someone whose education is in the sciences and who practiced as a physical therapist I reflected on what I had been taught and what I actually believed about massage.  In my physical therapy program I was taught the basics of massage.  It was a class that I enjoyed but I didn’t feel all that competent in treating people with massage.  I understood the anatomy and the basic techniques but felt that I didn’t have the “hands” I wanted to really be effective.  I limited massage to situations in sports medicine where it was helpful on occasion, especially when it was my teammates who were cramping up!

It wasn’t until I got stuck in my own healing from multiple injuries that were rather severe and complex that I explored many options.  When I needed surgery, I had surgery.  When I thought I’d benefit from rehabilitative exercise I joined a gym and picked the minds of the therapists there for their ideas.  The chiropractor realigned my neck and laughingly told me how many of his patients are horse people (it was only kinda funny at the time)…

These things helped, but didn’t heal.  I found myself at a bit of a loss, as I was determined to return to sport and live more vibrantly.  The leftover pain and dysfunction from severe leg and back injuries were affecting my ability to work with and enjoy my own horses.  I found my way to a team of massage therapists who are masters of their field.  Over time, working together, I felt my body heal and realign at my core.  I wasn’t piecing things together anymore but coming together, realigning, and moving much more freely.  The journey has been amazing.  And I admit that, despite my training, I had not really believed that it could have been so transformative.

I was the person who had at one time raised my eyebrows, rolled my eyes and snorted a bit of a snicker!  I understand those of you who do this too.  I encourage you to give either yourself, your horse, or the both of you the opportunity to experience a therapeutic massage.  Or a series of them, as the effects compound over time, and then make a judgment based on your own experiences and/or how your horse responds.  It just might amaze you.  All it takes is an open mind, some time, a few dollars, and a phone call to a massage therapist.  I hope you consider giving it a go…

And yes, I do admit to rubbing my horses’ butts, but not during massage…

All the best,


Author: rutamazelis

Who I am Every horse benefits from therapeutic massage. Every horse matter to me. I have long understood the importance of muscular health for comfort and performance. As a physical therapist, with an interest in sports medicine, I served people. After rescuing and rehabilitating my first horse, nearly 10 years ago, I knew I wanted to practice equine massage therapy. I witnessed the healing it promoted in my horses and am determined to offer my services to as many other horses as I can. It is an honor and a delight to work on your horse. Ruta

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