Those of you who have a left-brain extrovert horse (LBE horseanality) understand what a challenge it can be to get them to stand still and focus for very long. It’s like having a child with ADHD. They typically have very big play drives and lots of energy. I have found in my years as an equine massage therapist these horses can be quite challenging and often difficult to perform a massage on because they simply cannot stand still and relax long enough for me to get much done.
I started to notice a pattern with my friend’s horse on which I worked regularly. He is a very LBE horseanality type and couldn’t be still for more than about 30 seconds at a time. However, when I used a very specific massage stroke called tapotement on him, he immediately became very still and seemed to really be “listening” to what I was doing. As soon as I switched to a different stroke, he would immediately start fidgeting again. I ended up having to use multiple variations of this massage stroke almost exclusively throughout his sessions and was able to get better results with him.
As I encountered other horses with a similar horseanality, I saw the same responses from them when I used the tapotement strokes. They would become quiet and very focused on the rhythm of the stroke. Their eyes would start to relax and droop and the head would drop. It was like it gave them something to focus on and still their racing minds, allowing them to relax a bit. I have one client that was so surprised and pleased with how quiet her horse was during the massage tell me that she was going to try and use tapotements on the horse during his next trim to see if it would help him be a little better behaved for the farrier.
How To Use Tapotement
Tapotement is a rhythmic, percussive massage stroke in which you can use many variations, the most popular of which are using closed fists, tips of fingers, open or cupped hand, or the outside edge of the hand (“karate-chop”). Alternate each hand in a repetitive percussion type motion to provide an invigorating massage. It is a helpful technique to get vibrations down to the deeper tissues of large muscle groups, stimulating circulation and helping to break up adhesions. You will typically use this stroke for the larger muscles on the horse, i.e. along the neck, back, and hindquarters. Do not use this technique on bony areas of the horse’s body.
Share Your Experience With Us!
The benefits of equine massage can be emotional as well as physical. If you happen to have a horse that fits the description above, try using this equine massage tip to gain some quiet time with your equine buddy for a change. Let us know how this works for you. Share your success stories with others by commenting on this article. We’d love to hear from you.
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the “whole horse”.
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