If SIRE’s horses aren’t yawning, their equine managers know, perhaps, they should be.
Yawning, chewing, licking and mouth movements are predominant expressions of a horse relieving tension and body toxins during a therapeutic horse massage. Thanks to in-house and regularly visiting equine massage therapists, SIRE’s herd members enjoy these benefits on a regular basis. Along with keeping a parental-like but professionally trained eye over each horse’s nutritional, veterinary and farrier requirements, SIRE’s staff monitors the condition of each horse’s entire body.
SIRE’s therapeutic horses spend their days working with people with special needs to enhance the riders’ functioning and life experiences: a rewarding endeavor, but one of hard, physical work for these athletic animals.
“Therapeutic horses can experience a lot of tension in their shoulders, back and hind ends because of how they compensate to support the riding imbalances of many of our riders in the special needs community,” explained Helen Evans, who is SIRE’s site and equine manager at the Fort Bend location and also a licensed equine sports massage therapist. “A sports massage focuses on the muscles pertinent to particular physical activities. It utilizes techniques that have been developed for their beneficial impact on muscular tissue.”
Among its benefits, equine sports massage:
- Maintains the entire body in better physical condition
- Eases muscle spasms and relieves tension
- Enhances muscle tone and range of motion
- Increases flexibility
- Lengthens connective tissue, therefore reducing the formation of adhesions
- Improves athletic performance
Effective equine massages usually last an hour and are most beneficial when performed every two to four weeks, Helen pointed out. Professionals like herself work closely with horse chiropractors and veterinarians and only after an individual evaluation of each horse.
At the conclusion of each session, therapists will walk with the horse for five to 10 minutes to further release the toxins. During that time, “you can see the horse’s movement become freer and his back will swing more,” said Helen, who has been a licensed equine massage therapist for four years and administers therapy to athletic horses outside of SIRE in her free time.
Healing the Entire Herd
In addition to working full-time managing the Fort Bend site and performing regular massages on that herd—including the minis, Miss Independent and Scarlett—Helen ventures north once a month to administer the body work to SIRE’s herd at Spring. Hockley’s herd enjoys massage therapy from a regular, visiting and licensed equine massage expert.
“As a young child I was obsessed with animals,” Helen recalled. “I still am now.”
Originally from a town outside of London, Helen studied equine management and small animal care at an agriculture college. Before she joined SIRE as a full-time equine manager and riding instructor, Helen’s career included time in horse and small animal veterinarian nursing and surgery assistance, veterinarian office management, dog training and rescue, and personal ownership and care of horses, dogs and other lovable creatures.