I've often had people mention to me that it's probably easier working on horses than people since “They don’t talk back.” And it’s actually just the opposite. Horses (most of the time) are great communicators, letting me know what they like, what they don’t like, where they want to be worked on, when it feels good and when it doesn’t feel good. And if you’re here getting some info about having your horse worked on, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
For the Session your horse will need to be haltered and tied or you can hold the lead rope; no ground tying. Once I start you can watch to see how your animal reacts, and I’ll let you know if something comes up; or you can go do other tasks as needed.
I begin with an Evaluation, where I feel all the major muscles with enough pressure looking for any reaction, such as stepping away, kicking, or biting (even if your horse has a good temperament, if I hit a sore spot, they’ll let me know). This tells me where the “sore” spots are and where to focus. A horse doesn't always let me know, and as the work progresses, other areas may come up.
It is a full body session: From poll, down the neck, withers, shoulders, pec/biceps, down the front leg, top line, barrel, abdomen, hip, and down the rear leg, lasting from 45-60 minutes, or longer, depending on what comes up. While I work (using a combination of massage techniques, energy medicine, and stretching), signs of release are “lick and chews,” yawns, and sighs. Indications your horse likes the work can include the eyes growing soft, bottom lip quivering and/or hanging, they can also fall asleep. I’ve been told by some owners their horse were making expressions they’ve never seen before.
Once the Session is done, you’ll take your horse for a short walk to loosen up the muscles and for you to see any differences in their movement and behavior. They’ll usually be calmer, their head can hang low because they’re relaxed, there is more freedom and looseness to their movement and they just seem to feel better. Though I really can’t control their attitude; overall the Session usually improves their disposition, yet it can vary. Afterwards the horse can be relaxed and stay that way or they can be relaxed and want to kick up their heels, including feeling this way the following day. The affect can be different with each session and they can react just the opposite of how would think your horse would.
I find it a bit better to give your horse some down time and let the body reintegrate itself, however you can ride after a Session, just don’t go all out, take your time and find out how your horse is responding and feeling.