Some of the important benefits of a regular consistent massage program:
Maintains the entire body in better physical condition
Boosts athletic performance and endurance
Improves circulation and, as a result, promotes more rapid healing
Stimulates circulation in the lymphatic system and hastens the elimination of waste products
Lengthens connective tissue and so breaks down/prevents the formation of adhesions
Enhances muscle tone and increases range of motion
Eases muscle spasms
Extends both the good health and the overall life of the animal's athletic career
Notice that the horse's muscles are three layers deep. It's easy to see that the equine is 60% muscle. It becomes understandable that many, if not most issues are well served by muscular therapies, of which massage is the most understood and effective. It is no accident that serious human athletes of virtually all disciplines incorporate regular frequent massage into their training routines.
Studying the three layers of muscle lying beneath the layers of skin, one begins to understand why visible ribs, protruding "hip" bones, and gaunt flank areas reveal a lack of muscle mass which will make athletic preparation an unhealthy strain on joints, tendons, and existing muscles.
Sports massage should play a role in strengthening your equine athlete's muscles. In order to strengthen, muscles must be able to contract and release completely; and for this to happen properly, those muscles need to be loose. Because a tight muscle cannot release completely, a tight muscle is a weak muscle. Massage enables muscles to strengthen by keeping them loose.
Given the complexity of their movement and their musculo/skeletal construction, horses have much to gain from massage therapy. Horses are athletes and, like us, can develop sore muscles, stiff joints, and restricted range of motion. If massage is practiced on a regular basis it can help alleviate these symptoms and help prevent injury.
It is important to remember that massage is not a substitute for, but rather a supplement to, proper veterinary care.