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Equine massage business takes hold

Casey Daugherty massages Ranger at Kathy Monico’s horse ranch in Park Rapids. Monico boards horses for owners. Daugherty is the first equine masseuse in Park Rapids. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

BY Sarah smith

When top athletes or even active, healthy people overdo it, they need their muscles worked back into place.

So, too, do horses.

Stellar Equine Sports Massage is the first of its kind of business to open in the Park Rapids area.

Owned by Casey Daugherty, the business is currently operating at the Kathy Monico farm south of town, called Northwoods Arabians.

Daugherty grew up with horses and seems to have the right touch. She loves and understands the animals. They, in turn, trust her. They know they’re in the hands of a master.

Her blue manicured fingernails massage Ranger’s neck.

“I’m pulling apart the fiber of the muscle,” she explains. That increases circulation and removes lactic acid buildup, which makes horses stiff and sore.

Active horses, those involved in rodeo work or barrel racing, probably need a massage every two weeks, Daugherty suggests.

Otherwise a monthly massage will suffice.

“People are starting to realize the benefits,” she said. “Horses are like humans - you behave better when you feel better.”

She graduated from Colby College in Kansas with a degree in horse production and management.

She took a course from Armstrong Equine Massage to become a certified masseuse, although that is not required in Minnesota.

She does not, however, perform any chiropractic work. That can only be done by licensed veterinarians.

Ranger drops his head and seems totally relaxed as the blue fingernails expertly work him over.

“People spend a lot of money on these horses,” she said. “Most of them compete to earn some money back.”

And with that working comes soreness and the need for her services, particularly if the horses are involved in competitions.

While massaging a horse, her eyes never leave the animal.

She’s broken horses, ridden with a cutting horse trainer, gives riding lessons and is a certified judge for 4-H horse competitions.

The only thing she doesn’t do anymore is compete herself.

She has no horse. That tearful day came when she sold Jagger, the monster horse she broke and trained for two years. He didn’t fit her busy lifestyle anymore.

Amazingly, she doesn’t gimp from all her horse-related injuries. She doesn’t bother to count the times she’s been thrown, but she wants to ensure her equine clients don’t limp as well.

Horses involved in Western Pleasure Competition “are judged on how they move,” she said. “You don’t want a gimping horse.”

She can tell by the way a horse limps, or the way it fights her when she maneuvers the neck and back, if it has a long-standing injury.

She doesn’t try to right it.

The horse has been moving that way a long time, she notes.

And she often acts as middleman, instructing owners how to properly ride their steeds, how to work them properly without overworking them, letting them cool down properly and other tips.

“I have a huge passion for horses,” she said. “I get different responses than anything I’ve ever done. It’s very, very rewarding.”

Ranger’s eyes have brightened and he stands taller. He’s showing off. She also does canine massage.

She charges $80 per horse and can be reached at 218-255-4933.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364