So often I have been asked the question if wearing gloves lessens the effect of massage work. I usually reply with a simple answer 'gloved bodywork is better than no bodywork at all'. But I will take the opportunity now to expand on wearing gloves...
One of my favorite things about bodywork is that it is a connection with my horse, and one of the things that really strengthens that connection is the contact made between my hands and my horse. Now a glove is not going to completely eliminate that contact, but I have found that it does diminish the overall experience that both horse and handler receive. When I am getting ready to ride and want to do a quick stretch to my horses shoulders or loosen up those lateral muscles, than gloves are not going to be quite as limiting. However, if I am applying bodywork to help with a behavioral issue, working a green horse, or trying to transfer some heat to an aging joint, then I would say a bare hand is your best choice.
With these winter months setting in and our horses growing these great thick coats, I also think that running your bare hands over your horse several times a week really gives you a great opportunity make sure that coat isn't hiding any goat heads or wounds that might need tending!