The positive benefits of touch is not only reserved for humans alone. The sensitivity of horses to our touch now is widely recognized. A horse can feel the rider's subtle changes in body position right through the saddle. They easily detect tension in the handler and the emotional state of the rider. The therapist using manual techniques must be aware of the horse's response to tactile stimuli. As they say some people have the touch with animals.
The therapist should have a complete knowledge of the horse's state of health before applying any manual therapy. This requires veterinary consultation and evaluation of the horse. Although not a substitute for veterinary medicine, manual therapies are appropriate for injury prevention and can be combined with other therapeutic modalities for rehabilitation.
As with any other modality, one must have personal experience with any manual therapy before applying it to a horse. Only through personally experiencing the therapy can one get an idea of its effects.
There are very little contraindications for any manual therapy, but a few cautions. Avoid manual therapy when bacterial or viral lesions are present. The skin over the target tissue must be intact. Manual therapy should not be applied over a torn muscle or to an area of internal bleeding, such as an acute hematoma. Manual therapy can cause further damage to an acute injury.