How to Use the Equisports Massager

Below is a detailed description of the best techniques for use with the Equisports™ Massager.

Thank you to Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt of Animal Awareness for the great explaination of technique used in applying this device.

Holding the massager properly!

It is strongly recommended to hold the massager unit with both hands at all times. This way you will be able to control the pressure exerted by the massager at all times. As you constantly assess the feedback signs of your animals, you will be able to quickly adjust your pressure for a better result.

Holding the massager with one hand only is not recommended as it would minimize your control and would limit your response time if your horse was to abruptly react. Keep holding your massager with both hands at all times! It will be safer for both you and your horse.

Good Posture - Save energy and maximize application

Good posture is essential to giving a good massage. Good posture helps you save your energy and prevent arm soreness by avoiding unnecessary movement and fatigue. Good posture is the sum of the mechanical efficiency of the body. To maintain good posture:

    *  Keep your head up, chin slightly in, and look forward.

    *  Keep your back straight but  not stiff, and you should be breathing relaxed.

    *  Keep your neck relaxed, your shoulders loose, and your elbows slightly flexed.

    *  Keep your knees slightly flexed, and your feet apart at shoulder width.

    *  Keep moving and flowing from the hip/pelvis

With your arms and hands relaxed, this posture will allow you to apply the massager smoothly, avoiding tension in your neck, shoulders, chest and back.

Develop a feeling of working from your elbows, not just your hands. Use your body weight to regulate the amount of pressure applied. Work from your pelvis when exerting pressure; this action will help you exert more power. Overall, it will save you energy and prevent soreness in your upper body.

Please take deep breaths regularly to keep yourself relaxed. Also, be light on your feet, always ready to move. This agility will prevent accidents should the horse quickly move unexpectedly.

Always be aware of your posture during massage. If you do, you will maximize your energy and the quality of your massage work. With regular practice, good posture will become second nature, coming to you naturally.

Starting Point Equisports Massager Starting Point

When using the massager for the first time, take the time to introduce this machine to your horse. Before your turn the massager on, let him sniffle it and apply it gently on his back and hinds. Next, flip the starter switch “ON”. With a very light pressure, gently start applying the massager over the thicker muscles of the hinds (gluteus muscles). It is critical to assess your horse’s feedback signs at that starting time, and during the entire process. From his reactions, you can monitor the application of the massager to best suit the situation at hand. Some breeds are more sensitive than other. Always proceed with care. When your animal has become accepting of the process, follow the routine outline listed below.

The Hot & Cold Pack with Terry Cloth Cover

The equinesports massager come equipped with a hot / cold pack with a terry cloth cover to further help you attend to your animal specific needs.

When dealing with a tight animal use the Hot Pack with the Terry cloth cover to further loosen the muscles fibers. The added heat will contribute to dilate the muscle fibers and increase the overall circulation.

When dealing with sore muscles resulting from exercising, use the cold pack with the terry cloth cover to massage the tender area. The coolness will numb the nerve endings of the sore muscles and reduce the soreness.

In either cases, the massage action of the massager will stimulate the circulation thoroughly for better oxygenation and nutrient supply and contribute to speed up recovery.

Note: Keep in mind that if your horse’s muscles are very inflamed, you should not use the massager at that time, as it would further irritate the already painful muscle fibers. You need to get the inflammation under control first. Check with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and course of action. Once the inflammation is under control, you can resume using the massager. 

The Equisports™ Massager Routine

To maximize the use of your massager, we recommend you follow the special Equisport™ Massager Routine. You will cover the following areas:

1/ The Back, from the croup to the withers.

2/ The Hind legs, with the hamstring, quads, point of hip and gaskin.

3/ The Shoulder, from the withers to the Point of Shoulder and upper Foreleg

4/ The Neck, from the lower to upper neck. 

This unique routine is designed to cover all important areas of your horse and will maximize the many benefits that result from the use of the massager. Furthermore, this extraordinary routine will help you prevent the common muscular problems often seen with training and competition. This Equisports™ Massager Routine is a nice complement to any exercise program.

How to use the Equisports Massager Step 1 Step 1 - The Back, from croup to withers 

1A - The Croup

Start by placing the massager over the croup, right in front of the sacrum as shown on diagram. The croup is made of the gluteal muscle group. This group originates from the last lumbar vertebrae, the thoraco-lumbar fascia and Iliac crest of the hip bone and inserts onto the head of femur. Be gentle as it is often a sensitive or even tender area for most active horses. Slowly move the massager back and forth to massage the gluts delicately. When the gluts are sore or knotted, you can expect the horse will move or sag in response to your pressure. In that case, use the cold pack with terry cloth cover to massage the sore area. The coolness will numb the nerve endings of the sore muscles and reduce soreness. The massage will still stimulate circulation thoroughly and speed up recovery.

1B - The Back

Next, move forward to massage the loins. The longissimus dorsi and the iliocostalis are the two main muscles of the back. Often irritation of this area can result from ill-fitting saddle, extensive workloads or poor riding. When these muscles are irritated, tension can be felt in one or both sides of the horse. Gently slide the massager back and forth from the croup to the withers and back several times. This will loosen these two muscles and stimulate circulation throughout them. If you animal sags a little when you pass with the massager, a sign of muscle soreness, consider using the cold pack on the massager.

1C - The Withers

Finish the first part of your back routine by bringing the massage lightly over the withers. The withers is made of the spinous processes of the early thoracic vertebrae (T3 to T10) that provide the attachment site for the rhomboideus, the trapezius and the serratus dorsalis cranialis muscles. The first two muscles are directly involved in the movement and stabilization of the scapula. The repetitive movement of any gait, and the stress of a potentially difficult maneuver (for example, the impact of landing after a high jump or side to side movements such as in cutting, half-pass and other) in combination with less-than-perfectly-fitting tack and/or poor footing, can result in the irritation of the wither muscles.

As you reach this area with the massager, go back and forth three to five times from the back to the front of the withers. Keep track of how many times you go over them to avoid overworking the fibers of both these muscles. Keep your pressure light as these muscles a fairly thin. Keep monitoring the feedback signs of your horse. If you suspect soreness, use the cold pack onto your massager.

Step 2 - The Hind legs with the hamstring, quads, point of hip and gaskinHow to use the Equisports Massager Step 2

2A – The Hamstring

Next smoothly glide to the upper aspect of the Hamstring, by the sacrum area. Gently massage the attachment of the Biceps Femoris, Semi-tendinosus and Semi-membranosus muscles and slowly glide down along the belly of the hamstring muscle group all the way down to the gaskin. Carefully massage up and down this powerful muscle group. Take your time and monitor your horse feedback signs.

If the horse is sore, adapt the cold pack onto the machine! If muscle group appears stiff due to inactivity or over activity, use the heat pack.

2B – The Quadriceps (Quads!)

Next, gently glide the massager by the origin of the quadriceps group of muscle (vastus lateralis, vastus medius, vastus medialis and rectus femoris) by the head of femur as shown on illustrastrion. Gently slide the massager back and forth 3 times between the head of femur and the stifle. Monitor your animal feedback signs as you massage that area.

2C - The point of Hip

Just below the point of hip is where attach the tensor fasciae latae muscle (TFL). The TFL muscle governs the fascia that surrounds the stifle and plays a role in extending the stifle during retraction of the hind leg. When this area is stressed, the horse will show discomfort on the same side during lateral movement and will tend to throw his leg outward during protraction. Be careful and very gentle when first placing the massager below the point of hip. Start to massage this area by slowly gliding the massager back and forth between the point of hip and the stifle.

Consider the use of the cold or heat pack onto the massager if need be.

Slide the massager from the stifle going upward towards the point of hip. Go back and forth 3 to 5 times.

2D – The Gaskin

Next, move the massager down over the gaskin, which is made of the extensor and flexor muscle of the lower hind leg. Move the massager up and down 2 to 3 times along these muscles. This completes your massage of the hind leg.

How to use the Equisports Massager Step 3Step 3 - The Shoulder/Point of Shoulder/Foreleg

The infraspinatus muscle is one of the most important muscles of the shoulder; it works in conjunction with the supraspinatus, deltoideus, and the teres minor muscles. These muscles serve to prevent lateral dislocation of the shoulder and are directly involved in lateral movements. Abrupt shifts from side to side, such as in half-passes, cutting, polo, and horseball render these shoulder muscles very susceptible to strain.

3A – The Shoulder

Start massaging the upper third of the shoulder area with light circular movements. Go easy when going over the scapular spine. The horse might flinch a little; in that case, ease your pressure. Start working lightly and progressively increase pressure when over the muscles. If your horse is a little sore, consider using the cold pack to further benefit your work. Gently move down towards the middle and then the lower part of the shoulder, always in a circular movement. Monitor your animal feedback signs at all times.

3B – The Point of Shoulder

Move onto the point of shoulder where the brachiocephalic muscle of the neck attaches. This muscle is involved in the protraction of the foreleg, the head carriage, and side movements of the neck and head. If the brachiocephalic muscle becomes tight, the horse will not be able to carry his head correctly and he will be uncomfortable when circling. Severe tightening of this muscle results in the horse’s being off in most of his movements.

Start to massage this area very lightly and go up and down 2 to 3 times over the lower third of the brachiocephalic muscle. Be very gentle when applying the massager over the point of shoulder as it is usually a tender area for most horses.

3C – The Upper Foreleg

Then lower the massager over the upper arm to massage the extensor and flexor muscle so the front leg. Gently slide the unit back and forth between below the scapula and the knee. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

Step 4 - The Lower & Upper NeckHow to use the Equisports Massager Step 4

The horse uses his neck as a balancer during his various gates. This is an area of constant stress for a horse that engages in strenuous activities. Massaging both the neck extensor and flexor muscles will maintain your horse neck in good condition.

4A – The Lower Neck

Place the massager in front of the middle of the scapula. Move the massager up and down in front of scapula. This will relax the splenius cervicis, the anterior trapezius and the anterior rhomboid muscles.

4B – The Upper Neck

Progressively, gently move the massager up towards the uppers neck to massage the rectus capitis muscle. Some horses might not be comfortable with the massager vibration so close to their head. Do not insist if it is the case. With time and practice, your animal will become more accepting of this process.

How to Use the Equisports™ Massager – Recommendations

Before you apply the Equisports™ Massager Routine always ensure that no contraindication applies. 

To Relax

Use the Equisports™ Massager Routine in a very light fashion and with minimal repetitions. Shorten the time of application. This will contribute to relax a tense horse.

Keep in mind that for some animals, the vibration of the massager will have more of stimulating effect than a relaxing one. In such case, apply manually the relaxation massage routine as offered by animal awareness on its site. It is a simple yet fast and efficient way to relax your horse regardless of age, breed or discipline. 

To Prevent

Use the Equisports™ Massager Routine as presented in its outline. This will relax all major muscle groups and will increase the overall circulation for better oxygenation and nutrient supply and removal of toxins. This will maintain your horse in his best condition. If you suspect soreness in any of the muscle group you massage, investigate by palpating manually. Learn to recognize the various signs of inflammation by educating your hands in palpation skills. Read the free article on inflammation signs on the animal awareness, and view the mini-video on the palpation skills available to you at anytime.

To Stimulate For Preparation

You can use the Equisports™ Massager Routine to stimulate the muscles of your horse in preparation for exercise or competition. Simply keep it short and use deeper pressure when over the middle of the large muscle groups such as the gluts and hamstrings, over the triceps of the foreleg, the trapezius of the shoulder and the splenius of the neck. Keep your application short and sweet!

Conclusion

This Equisports™ Massager Routine will prepare your horse for activity and will release most of his tension in the key muscle areas. You can further your massager application with some more precise hands work to release deep seated trigger points or stress points. If your horse shows some swelling in his legs, apply the swelling massage technique first before using the massager.

Complete your Equisports™ Massager Routine with a general stretching of your horse legs, back and neck. Stretching will further contribute to your horse relaxation and flexibility and range of motion. For visual guidance in all of these stretching and massage techniques visit our DVD store where you can download any of the Sixty + Hi-definition mini-videos we offer.