Fundamentals of Equine Manual Lymph Drainage for Professionals

According to the latest statistics from the bodywork industry, manual lymph drainage also known as

(MLD) is one of the top three fastest growing modalities for humans. We now have it available in the equine world of bodywork.   The Holistic Equine Academy of Lymphedema (HEAL) is the first of its kind to offer equine manual lymph drainage for our equine professionals! Our equine companions enjoy the same benefits as humans!

Honors belong to Dr. Emil & Estrid Vodder who developed this technique in 1930 to manage chronic sinusitis and to address other immune disorders. Manual lymph drainage is technically not “massage” as the practitioner’s focus is to facilitate the movement of lymph flow via light pumping action to drain foreign invaders, waste products, toxins,  and other types of metabolic and cellular debris from the body via the lymphatic system. Traditional massage focus is on the muscular-skeleton system. The lymph system is considered the body’s sanitation system.

women examining horse

We share some of the same strokes as our human therapist but also have additional strokes to accommodate the different anatomical structure of the horse. The appropriate pressure and application of these strokes are critical to promote lymph flow and not cut off the flow with deeper strokes or pressure.

Think of the equine lymph system as an elaborate highway system with back roads, local, county, state, and federal highways as a complex map with lymph traveling from superficial (directly under the skin) and deep (visceral systems) to be eliminated via the urinary system. Feral horses often travel up to 20 miles a day keeping their lymph system in optimal condition. Movement is critical to keep their lymph system robust allowing to drain excess waste from their system and maintain the integrity of their extremities.  The horses hide acts like a natural compression garment to help maintain the lymph system.  Many of our companion horses do not receive adequate exercise.  Turn out is not considered exercise! Keeping them in stalls for hours or days with little opportunity for adequate exercise will contribute to a congested lymph system. Many horses display temporary swelling in lower extremities due to this management style. Temporary swelling is an indication of a congested lymph system.   Some horses who are managed in this fashion may not display visible swelling, it doesn’t mean the system isn’t congested!

MLD allows the body to heal much faster when obstacles are removed from the system.  It has clinical applications for numerous conditions and is best utilized in combination with the appropriate veterinary care for the following:

  • Tendonitis
  • Laminitis/Founder
  • Pre-event/Post-event
  • Pre-surgery/post-surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Intermittent swollen legs, swelling in jaw or abdomen
  • Lymphedema & chronic progress lymphedema in draft and draft crosses.
  • Injuries
  • Scars

And other applications such as but not limited to:

  • Senior horses
  • Abused or neglected horses
  • Horses who don’t have adequate access to exercise
  • Just Because!

The 2-day class is very much a hands-on class! It consists of understanding the basics of the equine lymphatic system, with emphasis on the correct application of each stroke and where it is used on the body. It’s imperative you have the correct pressure, stretch and release in your stroke. The direction of the flow will be determined where you place your hands and your fingers. By identifying which area of the body is congested and redirecting the lymph to a non-congested road, it aids in eliminating the waste and expedite healing.

Come and be the first to learn and master this new modality. Help HEAL make this the new top modality in the equine bodywork.

For class schedule click here.

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