The Power of the Herd

Massage Therapies Performed in Groups Can Prove More Effective

Comments (2)

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Depends on Herd

Not all herds have the right mix for a person to be safe, especially if they are concentrating on the horse in front of them. If there is a pleasant and comfortable area where the horse can relax and be done by itself, it can be safer. In herds the horses need to constantly be aware and respond to more dominant horses, which effects relaxation. Fights can break out and if horses do not see a person till to late it is easy to get hurt. In my herd there is one that if I am doing her the others chill, well for a bit then they start interrupting, my turn yet, think of the "are we there yet?" it just disrupts the flow. And if I try to do the others, her constant interruptions are a distraction and in her case they eventually cause a disciplinary action by one of the other horses.

Michelle more than 4 years ago

In Rebuttal

Connie was a student of ours several years back and the recollection we have was that she was going to be a good massage therapist.

Some of the statements she made in the article we couldn't agree with more, with others, we have to say we are in complete disagreement.

Let's start with "A SAFE ENVIRONMENT".

Connie alludes to the idea that a therapist will, for whatever reason, be performing the bodywork in a "private room with low light", and that their stall is a scary place which will be frightening to them.

Most facilities that we visit in our Body Work travels house horses in stalls, have lights in the barn, provide some turn out daily, usually on a rotational basis with another / other horse(s), (does this constitute the herd ?), usually for a limited duration. Reality is that horses spend the majority of their day in a stall. They get fed there, usually two to three times a day, they sleep there, and many are groomed there. There is usually a horse on either side of them and / or across an aisle. For the vast majority of horses, stalls are a safe secure place for them and their "Herd" companions, as well as a place for interacting with humans.

The effectiveness of a practitioner is not determined by or tied in any way to the "herd", but to the effectiveness, techniques (tools) and quality of the bond between practitioner and horse. If there is a bona fide study out there to the contrary, we're all ears.


If a horse is in fact alone, as in no pasture mates at all, kept as the only horse on a property, then Ms Goodnight is, in some cases, absolutely correct about it's vulnerability, levels of anxiety and hyper-vigilance. However, to go so far as to say it is a contra-indication for massage or body work, is just not so. We have worked on many "Backyard" horses, and have never had an issue that couldn't be overcome in one or two sessions. Once the horse knows what you are there for and what you are about, they accept you as another part of the family(herd) and truly look forward to future visits.


As far as it goes, we are in complete agreement.


Horses have different levels of sensitivity or reactivity to touch. The effectiveness and tools available to the practitioner can draw releases from the horse. Horses in the vicinity of where the work is being performed will usually respond in some way, as a horse is being treated, due to their sensitivity and the level of energy being generated by the practitioner and emitted to the surrounding environment and animals in proximity. The majority of horses we work on are in such a deep zone of relaxation, they are not usually aware of their stall mates, or their reactions.

We do not agree with Connie's last sentence that the herd phenomenon allows for a more effective massage. It may on occasion, as she is of the opinion, but it also provides for a more unsafe work environment. Having to deal with a herd, is not only unsafe, but distracting both to

Doris & Ron Bouchard more than 5 years ago

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