The benefit of massage for horses has long been studied and discussed. With the growth in popularity of massage therapy, it is not hard to come to conclusion that many people believe in its positive effects. Riders report that their horses are more relaxed and greater freedom of gates. Competitors often seek massage for their horses during competition. Others are leery of having someone they do not know nor knows their horse working on their horses at shows. For those people and for others who are looking for a cost effective and portable way to offer their horse the relaxing, muscular-skeletal benefits of massage, there is a realistic answer.
Equilibrium Therapy Massage Pad is the answer. Backed by multiple case studies the pad has been found to markedly reduce stress, increase flexibility through the back, and accentuate the horse’s natural arch and stride. These studies included ten horses, five receiving thirty minute therapy sessions a day and the other five being allowed to wear the pad but turned off. The testing went on for six weeks. Between control groups, horses using the pad had lower heart rates and decreased stress levels (detected through salivary cortisol) testing, their strides were found to increase as did natural arch and flexibility.
This is all well and good; there is comfort in knowing the product a consumer is buying is backed with creditable research and is not just another gimmick. But how does it work for the average rider outside the testing zone? I took the pad into the field to see what the benefits were on everyday horses. My findings were extremely encouraging.
During a lesson day offered at Colorado State University by a local group of riders. The pad was placed on horses of various types, ages, and temperaments. No matter if before or after, all horses that received a brief treatment showed visible relaxation. One nervous mare received treatment following her workout. To the amazement of the owner, almost immediately she rested a hind foot and softened her eye. The owner noted that was the first time the mare relaxed since arriving at the facility.
Next the pad demoed on an eight year-old Akele-Teke cross that has osteoarthritis of the spine. Just now coming back to hard work, the owner reported that her horse benefitted from the pad which she primarily used after workouts as she is in the middle of saddle fittings and might affect the results. She used the pad for ten days and was impressed, noting the overall calming effect on the horse.
Time for me to give it a go on my own horses, a six year-old Welsh Cob mare and a nine year-old Thoroughbred gelding, neither has a history of back issues or chronic lameness but the mare does have a tendency to create “drama”. The gelding is easy going by nature. After convincing the mare that the flapping straps against the pad’s material would not kill her, I turned the pad on low (there are three settings depending on desired function) and waited to see what happened. Within seconds, she rested a hind foot, lowered her head and began licking her lips. Following a full therapy session, I rode her dressage and could immediately feel a difference in her movement. She is naturally forward, her back was suppler and her canter was much more fluid. The gelding, a mid-level eventer, received treatment after workouts as relaxation is rarely an issue with him. However, his work is rigorous and a massage afterwards better utilized the therapeutic aspect of the pad.
One minor flaw exists with this product that has nothing to do with its performance. The bag itself is absolutely wonderful, streamlined and easy to store, but the inner casing for the battery charger gave under stress very easily. This might be because it is inside the actual carrying case. Removing and replacing the pad into the bag pulled and pushed on the inner casing causing a tear by the zipper. The bag is being rethought and this would not deter me from purchasing the pad.
Perhaps the only deterrent is the cost of $450. However, in the brief time I have had the pad I have noticed its main benefit is relaxation whether it be on a nervous mare or a sedate gelding. This aspect of the pad is of most value as far as I am concerned and makes it worth the retail price. Many injuries start because the horse is under stress. Over time the stress builds up as does the lactic acid and before a rider knows it, a horse that never had a back problem is suddenly tight, leading to a myriad of vet bills, therapy bills and sometimes even a new saddle. If there is a way to relieve stress and stimulate the blood flow that does not include a team of experts and costs the price of tuition at a private college then I am all for it. The Equilibrium Therapy Massage Pad lives up to its product promise while providing “equilibrium” of cost effective relaxation.