ABOUT SUZE WOOD
I'm an equine massage therapist based in Waitsburg, Washington who specializes in sustaining and optimizing performance for competitive equine athletes, supporting the recovery process for horses who are ill or have been injured, and geriatric support. A life long animal lover, my interest in equine biomechanics and bodywork was sparked in 2010 after observing the physical changes and challenges my horse Duke went through when changing disciplines to begin a new jumping training program. After several years of self-directed study I decided to follow my passion and dedicated myself full-time to improving the comfort and well-being of horses. I've completed 450 hours of intensive training through the Northwest School of Animal Massage, including anatomy & physiology, kinesiology, advanced massage techniques, horse behavior, handling and energy work, am licensed in the state of Washington, and have been nationally certified by the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure & Massage.
Washington State License #AM60568871
NBCAAM Certificate # M-125-15
Massage, stretching, and specialized techniques like trigger point release, stress point treatment, myofascial release, Manual Ligament Therapy™, circulatory massage, and lymphatic drainage can be powerful tools for your horse's well-being. Massage is used in different ways for a variety of reasons and situations, but they all share the core benefits of massage:
- Removal of metabolic wastes
- Release of naturally occurring endorphins
- Lengthening of muscle fibers to decrease the likelihood of overuse or stress-related injury
- Improved immune function by stimulating the lymphatic system
- Prevention of chronic conditions by monitoring and early detection.
There are several types of massage sessions designed to meet specific needs:
A Sustaining Massage is structured to help a horse stay healthy at an established work level for as long and as safely as possible by decreasing muscular tension. This is ideal for maintaining athletes, school horses, therapy animals, and pleasure horses. This can also be a useful tool in understanding existing stress patterns and removing situational soreness prior to pre-purchase riding trials.
The intent of Performance Massage is to optimize current performance while helping the horse reach the next level of movement proficiency. We achieve this by improving proprioceptive skills, improving the efficiency of movement, and increasing flexibility. This is especially useful for athletes graduating to the next level of competition, horses who are switching disciplines, and horses who are being started under saddle.
PRE & POST-EVENT MASSAGE
These are a pair of shorter sessions designed for the athletic horse, and are administered before and after a competitive event. The goal is to optimize tissue to support competition and avoid injuries, especially mid-to-late in the competitive season when the body is most prone to injury. The Pre-Event Massage focuses on warming and stretching the tissues, preventing injury, and assisting in focusing the mind, and can be done up to 24 hours before the event. Post-Event Massage is designed to flush the tissues of waste materials created during exertion, calm the nerves, speed recovery, and should be done 0-48 hours after an event.
Rehabilitation Massage is designed to aid the horse in reaching physical equilibrium that will facilitate natural healing, or will complement a treatment program initiated by a veterinarian. From encouraging healthy circulation for a horse confined to stall rest, to pre and post-operative massage, addressing strains and problem areas which are impacting performance, helping scar tissue form properly, moving stagnant fluid and waste from injury sites, or using advanced techniques to support a veterinarian prescribed treatment plan, massage can be a useful tool in helping the body recover and reach its natural equilibrium.
MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a gentle technique that helps boost the body's natural immune system. The lymphatic system is responsible for moving waste and toxins out of tissues. When compromised through inactivity, inflammatory responses, or illness, it can become congested. By gently stimulating this system, we can help sweep toxins out of the body and decrease congestion and swelling. Normally MLD is a stand-alone treatment, and the horse should avoid strenuous activity for a minimum of 12 hours after treatment. MLD is contraindicated in cases of fever and congestive heart failure, but is wonderful for horses on stall rest, moving excess fluid from swollen limbs, preparing a horse for transport, and assist the body in better handling inflammatory responses to soft-tissue trauma, injections, or bug bites.
Massage sessions typically last about an hour, though may run longer according to how the horse is responding and the progress being made. In all cases, every session is custom-tailored to meet the needs of the horse. The welfare of the horse is paramount, and I will patiently employ a variety of techniques to sooth and reassure a nervous or resistant horse, but may choose to end a session early and return at another time to complete the massage if I feel it will be more productive or is in the horse's best interest.
You will receive written documentation of each session as well as a debrief explaining my observations about your horse's areas of tension, range of motion, and the work that was done. Please don't be shy about asking questions.
HOW TO BOOK A MASSAGE
You can book online using the handy "Book A Massage" button at the top or bottom of this page. After adding the service to the shopping cart and making the purchase, you'll be asked to fill out some information which helps me prepare my chart notes for the massage. If for some reason you're uncomfortable doing this online, you're welcome to e-mail email@example.com and pay with cash or credit card at the time of service.
I will respond to your booking request to confirm the time as soon as possible. Due to the undivided attention that I give my clients, I'm often not able to respond to calls or texts right away, so online booking or E-mail is ideal.
PREPARING FOR A MASSAGE
- You will need to be present for the first session so you can share the horse's history, behavior, medical information, and orient me to the location. Once you are an established client and I know your horse, barn routines, and history, in most cases you can choose whether or not to be present for the massage.
- If you live in a state which requires direct supervision, delegation, or referral from a veterinarian to perform massage on horses, I will need to get permission to work on your horse from your Vet before your appointment. Alternatively, I can meet you at a location in Washington state.
- I'm glad to travel to you, and only charge travel reimbursement (a.k.a. barn fees) for locations more than 25 miles away from Waitsburg, Washington at the standard business reimbursement rate of 57 cents per mile round-trip. Travel charges can be divided between multiple clients in the same location or area.
- Your horse should be reasonably clean and dry for the massage session. If you know you won't have a chance to groom your horse prior to the session, I'm happy to do that for you for a $30.00 fee. Please have your horse's brushes and grooming equipment available for use.
- Avoid booking massage work during feeding times or other activities that could distract the horse. Distractions make it challenging for a horse to settle and relax for the massage.
- Think ahead about the ideal spot for your horse's massage. A sheltered location free from mud and inclement weather is needed. Some horses are happy having massage work in their stall, but others regard the stall as their own personal space and should be moved to a neutral location for massage. Cross ties or other safe location to secure the horse is required.
- If your horse is normally blanketed, don't worry about removing them prior to the session. I often use the blankets to keep the muscles covered and warm as I work.
DURING THE MASSAGE
- There is a learning process to receiving body work, and it may take horses from a few minutes to several sessions to understand the process and what is expected of them. Don't be overly concerned if your horse is distracted, restless, or seems a little on edge at first. Your horse will be handled with compassion and understanding and will learn the massage process soon enough.
- Expect an ebb and flow for your horse between states of relaxation, focus, and possibly temporary agitation as sore spots are addressed.
- Common signs of release and relaxation are lowering of the head, yawning/licking/chewing, soft eyes, and deeper breathing.
- I love to share information and explain what I'm doing but may fall silent when concentrating. I'll answer all question and fill you in on the details as soon as I'm done.
- When observing a session, for safety sake, please do your best to stay on the same side of the horse. I may invite you over to feel an area if I think it would be interesting or educational for you, but normally it's best to stand back and stay in the sight-line of your horse.
- Please avoid feeding, grooming, petting, and loud or excessive talking during a session, as it can be distracting for the horse and may disrupt the progress of the massage. In some situations, the presence of the guardian may just be too stimulating for the horse in which case you may be excused. Please don't be offended! It's simply a matter of creating the optimal massage environment for your horse, not a criticism of you or anything you are doing.
AFTER THE MASSAGE
- Movement after the massage helps circulate the blood and can aid in helping the horse release old waste and toxins which have been trapped in the tissue. It also helps the horse integrate the changes made to proprioception and become comfortable working with the new range of movement. 10-15 minutes of hand-walking, lunging, groundwork or turnout will be great for the horse.
- Be sure the horse has water available and has a chance to relieve him/herself after the session. Changes made in bodywork use more water than normal, which result in thirst and a full bladder. Drinking water after the session can also help release waste products from the tissues.
- It's possible that your horse could be sore for a day or two after the massage. While this could be due to excessive pressure during the massage, more often it's part of the natural healing process-- the result of toxins which had been trapped in soft tissue being removed from the body, strengthening of weak muscles and rebalancing old postural habits. Movement and good hydration will help speed the recovery process.
- Keep in touch! I'll be glad to hear from you. Feel free to contact me between sessions to ask questions, discuss observations you've made, ask for follow-up recommendations as needed, and give honest feedback about the session. You are a very important part of the team!
REFERRAL PROGRAM & SPECIAL DEALS
Happy customers and personal referrals are the best advertising I could ever have. For every referral that results in a new client booking, you will receive a $25 credit towards your next service. Let me know who you're talking to!
I do offer promotions and special deals from time to time. Check our Referral Program & Special Deals page for details!
SCOPE OF PRACTICE
Massage professionals are not qualified to treat, diagnose, or give prognosis of any injury or illness. If you horse has been injured, has a fever, or exhibits symptoms of illness, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Once diagnosed and a treatment plan initiated, I will gladly partner with your veterinarian and other healthcare professionals, farrier, caretakers and trainers to ensure that your horse receives the best possible care.