Meet The Expert Behind AB Equine Massage Therapy
As an equine massage therapist, Ansley Bevan has made a career from, not only providing equine massage therapy, but from taking her passion for education and helping others learn how to become advocates for their horses' wellbeing.
Ansley's passion has led her to pursue continued education in equine behaviour, anatomy, pathology, biomechanics, hoof care, saddle/bit mechanics, myofascial release, kinesiology taping, and other therapeutic modalities. She has been a licensed massage therapist for 10 years and is certified in equine massage and equine rehabilitation.
Ansley is a true believer in a whole-horse approach when it comes to the care of your equine partner. We are so grateful that she has offered to share her wealth of knowledge with Dapplebay followers.
What is Equine Massage Therapy?
Equine massage therapy, equine bodywork, or therapeutic massage; they all refer to the manipulation of muscle and fascia to release tension and aid in the over health and wellbeing of horses. Massage therapy can be used alongside other forms of care such as chiropractic and saddle fit to create a holistic approach to your horse’s happiness and comfort, as well as their ability to perform.
What Equipment is Needed for Equine Massage Therapy?
While there are a lot of massage techniques and other forms of bodywork constantly appearing in the equine health care industry, most massage therapy requires little to no equipment. Your bodyworker may bring a stool for those tall Warmbloods and it’s important to have a safe, dry, and accessible place for the session to take place, but that’s it! They will use a hands-on approach to assessment and treatment of any issues your horse may have.
What are the benefits of equine therapeutic massage?
We ask a lot of our horses. No matter the discipline, we are asking them to perform way outside of their natural movements and capabilities. Some people will consider equine massage to be a luxury expense that is to be reserved for top athletes in the equestrian world. This simply isn't true. All horses can and do benefit from massage therapy.
The unnatural stress that we put on our horses' bodies can look like this:
Wear and tear of the hooves
Affected energy levels
To name a few!
Often issues like this show up in the form of performance issues, mood changes, and more. Tension in the horse's body can affect all aspects of its well-being. Is your horse girthy? Are they difficult to bridle? Are they short-strided or do they struggle with lead changes? Have you noticed a change in their mood and handling on the ground? These can all be signs that your horse is carrying tension in its body.
Horses do what they can to hide pain and discomfort. Often, they will overcompensate for muscle pain and stiffness, causing further issues in other parts of their body. Massage therapy helps by releasing tension and allowing the body to overcome muscle memory and start to move correctly.
Bodywork benefits circulation, elasticity, joint mobility, demeanor, performance and lymphatic flow. It not only allows your horse to perform at a higher level, but it helps them live a longer and happier life.
Common problem areas
There are two main areas where you will commonly see tension. No matter the discipline or level of athleticism, a lot of horses carry tension in their poll and cervical area and their hind end.
Poll + Cervical Region: A lot of times horses that are practicing a lot of collection can hold tensional patterns near the poll region (C1-C3). Roughly speaking the horse's head weighs about 10% of its total body weight. That's a lot of weight being carried by the neck! The horse also uses its neck to balance during ridden work. So, if you think about showjumpers, eventers, barrel horses and even dressage horses - those cervical muscles are working HARD.
Hind End: Whether you have a horse that is getting into shape or a horse that is fit and working hard- the hind end can be a hotspot for tensional patterns. Across all disciplines, the hind end is a powerhouse for the horse. Reining and barrel horses are using those gluteal and pelvic stabilizer muscles to support tight turns and quick stops. Dressage horses use the gluteal and hind end muscles to support themselves during collection and upper-level movements such as the piaffe. Showjumpers utilize the hind end to launch themselves over fences. During cross country horses are engaging the hindquarters to jump, gallop and balance themselves through varied terrain.
How often should a horse get a massage?
Frequency of bodywork treatments are dependent on the specific horse and their issues. Are they a performance horse or a leisure horse? Equine athletes often will require a more structured strategy to keep them at their best. A schedule will be part of the conversation between practitioner and client at the first appointment. Even backyard and leisure horses benefit from regular massage treatment! So don’t think that because your horse is not used for competition, that they won’t get anything from regular massage. They most definitely will!
The Helping Hand Massage Tool: The Ultimate in Owner-provided Massage Care
It's not always possible to have a therapist or bodyworker out to see your horse. Even if it is, there might need to be an extended period of time between appointments. Whether that's due to financial or time constraints, it's understandable. Even if your horse does have a regular bodywork schedule, they may need a little help in between sessions.
It can be intimidating trying to release tension in your own horse. Getting pressure and location right can be tricky, that's where the Helping Hand massage tool comes in! In her own words, Ansley of AB Equine Therapy "wanted horse owners/equestrians to be able to go the extra mile for their horses". The tool has been created with rounded edges and perfect lines that allow it to be used on all areas without the risk of injuring or irritating your horse! It empowers equestrians to confidently address muscular tension in their horses.
The tool is super user-friendly and it comes with a video tutorial on how to use it. The tutorial targets common areas of tension in the horse and shows how to use the tool properly in these areas.
For those equestrians that want to take an even deeper dive, Ansley has developed a foundational-level equine massage course that teaches the introductory techniques of equine massage.
Foundational Equine Massage: Introductory Massage for All Equestrians
Are you interested in learning the basics of equine massage from a certified equine massage therapist? Ansley Bevan has recently taken all her knowledge about identifying and treating specific trigger points to potentially enhance muscle tone and increase range of motion in your equine friend. She’s put it, along with her passion for the subject, into an online, accessible, and affordable course that’s built for everyone!
And it gets better! For a limited time, DB followers get 20% off the course! Use code dbtwenty at checkout. Link below!