IMPORTANT – Holistic therapies treat the animal as a whole (mind, body and spirit) and are complementary to veterinary advice, enhancing other treatments by allowing tension release and natural improvement in both physical and non-physical conditions. If you suspect injury or physical ailment, you must seek diagnosis from your Vet in the first instance. Any physical therapy requires, by law, your Vet’s permission to ensure there are no underlying medical conditions and that the therapy is safe and has the best interests and welfare of your horse in mind. NB: Hayley always liaises with your veterinary practice prior to visiting any equine and provides a brief report afterwards too for you and your veterinary practice.
Para Dressage Champion Cally (above) loves her therapy
Mike Austin’s stunning Spencer (below) received therapy before turnout after long-term box rest for a suspensory ligament injury and this helped to keep him fairly calm and reduce the risk of him hurting himself again.
Hayley’s life-long love of horses means she has a particular passion for her equine work and enjoys working with much loved equines from family pets to top competition horses.
Equine Holistic Therapy can assist performance in work and help a balanced attitude. The combination of Equine Massage and Reiki complement one another perfectly. If, for any reason, massage cannot be used then Reiki can be used in isolation.
Hayley initially assesses the horse using a combination of observation, palpation and intuition to provide a therapy adapted to the preferences and needs of the individual equine and always works with integrity and respect.
Most horses display a whole array of signs of relaxation including resting a hind leg, sighing, yawning, snoozing, gurgling abdomen and breaking wind. Rarely they indicate they are unhappy and the therapy is adapted or even ceased if necessary. Safety of the horse and those around the horse is of paramount importance.
Massage is a form of physical therapy working soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia) in a rhythmic, relaxing way to relieve tension. All muscle groups are worked to ensure a holistic and complete physical treatment, since all areas of the body are connected to and affect all other areas. Passive stretches are incorporated as needed. Hayley gives useful exercises and self-help tips you can use with your horse and most equines really appreciate this additional quality time with their person, strengthening their bond, mutual respect and trust.
As well as being useful for physical issues, these therapies are particularly helpful for anxiety or stress related problems eg. grief, injury, illness, box rest, depression, bullying or past issues. The calmer horses (and humans) are, the less likely they will suffer physical and psychological ailments.
Benefits of massage include improved circulation, bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients for supple muscles, improved flexibility and muscle strength, improved fitness and performance and increased stability, balance and co-ordination. Imagine how you feel after massage and it is likely your horse feels similar.
Reiki is a subtle, gentle, natural energy therapy which is great for deep relaxation and releasing tension. It may sound like a bizarre kind of treatment, however, feedback and experience shows that all animals seem to enjoy this calming energy work, which is particularly useful for helping with any anxiety or stress related issues.
George enjoying shoulder massage
Hayley’s style is quiet, intuitive and subtle – often ‘less is more’ – though deep tissue massage work is used throughout and the combination of deep work, light work and some stillness is very effective.
What the Vet says – “I can personally recommend Hayley and have seen many cases where these therapies had a visible positive effect on animals. The fact they work alongside veterinary care ensures owners and vets can be confident the therapies will be beneficial.” Dr Vincenzo Franco DVM MRCVS
Flicker is having a great release of tension during his therapy with multiple yawning and had been very uptight and tense prior to the therapy as the local very noisy game shoot had just passed by.
Stressed or uncomfortable horses often relax and change to become happier, more confident and willing. Even when previously they have been anxious, unresponsive, uncooperative and maybe even ‘shut down’.
It follows that we should honour our strong connection and bond by working on both sides of the team. Massage and Reiki are great for helping achieve a calm and serene state for both parties.
See Horse & Rider Packages page. Clinic days for rider massage can be organised at your yard too for a minimum of 6 people. Discounts may be applicable for multiple bookings of equine massage and horse & rider packages.
Prices start at £50 for Equine Holistic Therapy (£65 for the Horse and Rider Package) and small additional travel expenses may be applicable depending on your location. Discounts may be applicable for multiple bookings and clinic days of more than 6 riders for the Chair Massage. Equine Holistic Therapy will take about an hour and Chair Massage 30 minutes.
Competition Package – Therapy can be used to aid travelling anxiety and as a warm-up or cool-down at competition. Prices for this will be dependent on amount of time Hayley is required to be at the competition with you.
WHEN WOULD YOUR HORSE BENEFIT?
There need not be a specific reason for equine holistic therapy as it can help general physical and psychological well-being any time, however, it will be of particular benefit in the following circumstances:-
- Lack of turnout due to box rest or lack of grazing
- Lack of social contact with other equines
- Stiffness in work
- Hard exercise often for long periods
- Recovering from illness or injury
- Inability to canter on a particular lead / obvious stiffness in that direction
- Tightness through jaw and poll
- Tail held to one side
- Difficulty in rounding or swaying through back
- Signs of stress or anxiety
Remember – Any undiagnosed abnormality should be referred to your Vet in the first instance.
WHAT EQUINE THERAPY CAN DO FOR YOUR HORSE
Almost identical benefits apply to therapy for rider and horse :-
- Improved circulation, sending fresh oxygen and nutrition to muscles and joints. This aids flexibility and mobility of joints and the back, preventing muscle stiffness and build-up of harmful by-products of strenuous exercise or injury
- Aids metabolism
- Improved venous return and lymphatic circulation (the body’s waste disposal system)
- Reduced discomfort, pain and stiffness
- Relaxation of the horse by positively affecting the nervous and muscular systems
- Aids preparation for exercise and competition and can improve performance
- Aids supple muscles to prevent injury
- Speeds up recovery process after exercise and particularly useful post injury
- Helpful in increasing horse/human bonding and trust
- Can be used to stimulate or relax as needed
- Gives immediate recognition of physical changes, eg. swelling, heat, lumps
- Helps coat condition and muscle tone
- It promotes ‘feel-good’ positive chemicals – dopamine and serotonin
- Helps strengthen the immune system
- Helping stress related issues and nervous habits
A Consultation Form is completed for your horse (and yourself if you are having a therapy too). This can then be reviewed at subsequent visits.
As Massage is included in the Equine Holistic Therapy Hayley offers, and this is a form of physiotherapy, permission will be sought from your Vet prior to the therapy to establish if there are any diagnoses which may mean the therapy is inappropriate and unsafe for your horse. This complies with the following legislation: 1966 Veterinary Surgery Act and The Veterinary Surgery Exemptions Order 1962. Hayley will write a short report to be sent to the Vet following the therapy.
Please bring your horse in and groom him/her. Have a haynet handy and a friend nearby so your horse feels settled. You remain present during the therapy though not always necessarily to hold the horse. Anyone observing can feel very relaxed too.
REASONS EQUINE THERAPY MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE
This list of contraindications is not exhaustive and you should always discuss concerns with your Vet prior to booking any therapy: Azoturia; Systemic Infection; Immediately after feed; Undiagnosed Abnormality; Lymphangitis; Some Cushing’s Syndrome (depending on symptoms and drugs being used); Day after strenuous work eg. hunting; Pregnancy; High Temperature (over 102 F or 39 C); Severe functional nervous disease (eg. tetanus). The affected area will be avoided in the case of localised skin infection; cysts/sarcoids/tumours; acute arthritis; rheumatism; calcification of joints or soft tissues (eg. splints, ringbone). History of stifle lock means hind leg stretches are contraindicated.
“We were delighted when Hayley joined our small team supporting Natasha and Cally on their ‘Road to Rio’. Hayley plays an important role in keeping Cally in tip top condition ready for her intensive training and competition schedule. Landy also loves his massage with Hayley, especially liking the ‘apple stretches’ with specially adapted apple sticks.
Hayley has become a valuable team member, providing support at events and competition, and more than that has become a good friend! Thank you x” Yvonne Bennett (Natasha’s Mum)
“What a fantastic package – Hayley came and started by giving me a relaxing, stress relieving massage whilst in the comfort of my own yard and fully clothed on a specialist chair. This thirty minutes was the perfect time to relax and release all the stresses of the week and up and coming competition. Once I was thoroughly relaxed and de-knotted, Hayley then moved onto my horses. Plex is a really sensitive horse so I wasn’t sure how he would react to the massage. I was able to hold him and watch as he went through the release of tension and stresses on his muscles just as I had and you could see the relaxation in the way he was stood so much so he was pushing into Hayley for more. The following day Plex felt very loose and easy through all his work, for which I give the credit to Hayley and her work. Thank you so much Hayley it’s the perfect “package” both in the comfort of our yard and without any stresses or disruptions.”
“Hayley has worked on several of my competition horses and the difference she has made to their length of stride and suppleness is fantastic. Both horses are competing on a regular basis and prior to Hayley starting working with me and the horses, I had not used a massage programme for them and often felt after a hard session schooling or competing the following week they would be a little bit stiff or find stretching that bit harder due to the build up of lactic acid and tension in their muscles, particularly their back. Hayley has worked with this and releases the tension and allows them to stretch properly again, something which is highly important in dressage horses working at their level. I am really impressed with Hayley’s commitment and determination to make a difference to the horses natural way of going, she will not finish until she is happy they are released in the areas required. From the initial assessment through to the massage, Hayley is very professional and takes total care in every part of her work. I look forward to continuing the massage with her and the horses in the future.” L Dyson, Grimsby
“After Hayley has massaged Gin, her movement always feels free. It did help with the stiffness on the right rein and she went well when jumped the day after. It is also good to know if Gin has any stiffness, which Hayley can feel, and she often has a tight poll and shoulder. Gin seems to enjoy the massages, even though she can sometimes be in a difficult mood.” “This was my first massage. I found it very relaxing and enjoyable, it was interesting to relate to the massage done on my horse, who always feels free/loose the following day and I do too! Ginny and I like to compete at Championships of Great Britain in Wales (Cricklands) and won the Gold at this competition in 2008 and attended the Winter League Finals in April 2012. At Port Royal, Ginny often wins the individual Showcross at 75cms, which often has around 100 competitors, with a great £100 first prize!” A Phillips, Doncaster
“Many thanks for the recent horse and rider massage you gave to me and Baz. I have become increasingly conscious that some of my tensions translate through to my riding and these affect our performance at competitions and our enjoyment at home. I found it really interesting that I have some tension in my sacroiliac area and you spent some time working on this; the next time I rode I did notice a marked difference in my comfort and ability to sit to trot. Baz, of course, also enjoyed his massage and has a tendency to be tense in his sacro-iliac area too! I happily recommend this package to anyone as it was a really beneficial ‘treat’ for us both.”
“Baz is an ex racer who, when I first got him, had just been gelded (at 7!!) and was treated for stomach ulcers. He was very aggressive and highly sensitive to the touch when I first got him. We have built up a good relationship over the years and the aggression has subsided but he still is ‘grumpy’ on a regular basis, as in pulls faces and I can sense that he is in a bad mood. He does not really like being groomed and generally prefers no nonsense handling. Hayley regularly massages and after each session he seems much more mellow and generally in a better frame of mind. He has coped really well with the massage, which I was really surprised and pleased about, as his tolerance level for grooming is much lower! He was not overly keen on the more gentle stroking movements, which irritated him, and we kept these to a minimum by massaging him after a short exercise session so his muscles were already warm. Hayley gave me constant feedback through the sessions and pointed out areas where she was finding tension, and these regularly confirmed my observations from riding him. Since Hayley has been massaging him he seems much more supple and I have noticed a very marked improvement on his stiffer left rein, wherein he will offer the correct canter lead at least 80% now, where this used to be more like 40%. After massages he dropped quickly into a softer contact and worked ‘through’ more readily. I have also found it useful that Hayley has shown me stretches that I can do with Baz myself, particularly with his hind legs as these are quite muscle bound and he can be a little stiff at times. When I do these exercises regularly I have noticed that his hind leg engagement improves. Hayley has a confident and gentle manner when dealing with horses and I firmly believe that this is the key to settling them and getting the most from the treatment. I’m really pleased that she chose to work with Baz and we have seen tangible benefits.” C Hackney
“Riley benefitted from Reiki and Massage massively! He totally zoned out, completely relaxed and stopped eating his hay, which he loves! Thanks so much Hayley, on Riley’s behalf. It without a doubt improved his wellbeing and performance. His sensitive muscular areas benefited from the self-help techniques suggested. It was visible to see him working much more freely, flexible and supple within just a week!” Miss A Sutherton, Nr Doncaster
“Ky is so much better since you treated him, jumps well now and is so laid back while hacking with my 8 year old, better than he has ever been! He now has absolutely beautiful leg action and lovely balance. It has made such a difference to him.” L Auchterlonie, Belton