Basic Facial Massage Tips for Horses & Dogs
Who does not like to get a massage? Nothing makes me relax more than a few minutes of massage. Your animals will love it too and it will help them relax. I am going to share a few of my favorite facial massage moves to do that will relax your horse or dog.
The first is to take your hands and at the same time wrap them around the ears of the horse/dog. Start at the base of the ears and use your thumb and forefinger to make little circles tracing the outside of the ears. Use light pressure and work your way around about 20 seconds total. At first the animal may not like having their ears touched so you can play the friendly game (touch the ears and reward with a "good boy or girl" when they stay still and gradually work up the amount of time). It will be very helpful to be able to mess with their ears in case you need to apply drops of if they scrape them and you need to treat them. It will not take long for your horse or dog to realize how relaxing and good the ear massage feels and you will notice how they drop their head and start to close their eyes. If the horse or dog yawns that is them releasing and is a good sign.
The second is the bridge of the nose. My two yorkies really like me lightly rubbing that area. They immediately start to fall asleep. Use very light pressure as there are a lot of fragile bones and thin skin in that area. You can do small circles with the tips of your fingers. There is no need to use any oils just your hands.
The third is along the jawline and around the eyes of a horse. Horses are grazing animals and they are chewing for most of the day...can you imagine how amazing light massage must feel. I start at the poll and work my way down with light but firm pressure making small circles with my thumb and forefingers. I do both sides of the face simultaneously and then work around the eyes to the jawline and then under the throat back to the nose. I always finish with a light brushing of my hands over the head and a kiss:-) Your horse or dog will look forward to these massage sessions and is a great way to bond. I do this at least once a week or after every ride with my horse.
Do not rush through the massages and go slow as the speed will help relax the animal and yourself. Take deep breaths and just enjoy the time. If you so too fast you will actually stimulate the muscles not relax them. I will cover that in another post.
There are so many benefits to massage and by having your hands on your horse or dog you will notice bumps, lumps, scratches, or changes that you can address before they get worse. Massage does release muscles and toxins so make sure that you have fresh, clean water available to re hydrate and flush out the toxins.