Trigger Point Massage for Horses - Andy Eckley
A common misconception is that you need to use a stronger force to release a trigger point on a horse than you would with a human
This however isn't my experience. If you are accurate then being a trigger point therapist for horses doesn't have to be painful for yourself or lead to finger joint problems.
A big difference to applying trigger point therapy versus simple massage is in its accuracy. So, if you are exactly on an active trigger point you don't need a lot of pressure.
Always try to use a supported thumb to the correct depth depending on the sensitivity of the tissue you are addressing.
Remember that the first time you press on an active trigger point this is going to send a pain signal to the horse.
Horses are flight or fight animals and you need to ensure that the pain signal is low, for your own safety, and for the wellbeing of the horse.
Using the Base of Your Hand
An alternative and very useful technique for releasing tension from active trigger points is to use the heel of your hand.
This is an excellent technique when releasing tension in the horses back, loins and down the back of the hamstrings.
When using the heel of your hand use stronger pressure as you are not concentrating on a precise trigger point location but moving the fascia and muscles overlaying an active trigger point which is often swollen or in spasm.
When releasing a trigger point its recommended that you use direct pressure.
Direct pressure means your thumb is applying pressure at 90 degrees to the surface of the horse. So it doesn't mean its horizontal or vertical as a rule but its at right angles to the surface your working on.
You could use any finger or thumb to apply the pressure as it makes no difference to the horse!
What's important is that your touch must be accurate and comforting. You should start off lightly and then increase the pressure.
Often a horse will lean into you to help increase the pressure. I've even had horses push so strongly into my pressure that they've lifted me off my feet against a wall.
If this happens to you, you’ll know that you and your horse are in complete agreement that you have found the correct spot.
You can move your thumb in small circles on a trigger point or apply direct pressure with no movement.
Test to see whatever works best to release that point.
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