When a horse is lame from an arthritic joint, massage to the surrounding muscles can help reverse atrophy. When a horse is in pain in a limb, he will stop using that leg, causing the muscles to waste away. In compensation, other legs will take up the load. One of the first things I do when assessing a horse is to make sure the body is symmetrical: all muscles on one side should be the same size as on the other side.
Massage can help little used muscles regain their tone. Along with correct shoeing, nutrition and supplements, the right turnout and exercise, a horses’ athletic career can be greatly extended.