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what does massage therapy do?

Equine Atlanto-Occipital Mobilisation
Equine Massage Assessment
equine myofascial release

The effects of massage therapy are incredible! Whilst the hope is that the horse enjoys it, it isn't about having a pamper session.  Massage works with skeletal muscle and all connective tissues, including fascia. It also helps to reduce stiffness in joints and indirectly helps the health of bone, which is an ever-changing and dynamic material.


Sometimes tension or pain in one area may not be the root cause.  Therapy, with thorough palpation, can help to establish where the original cause may be.  The interconnection of muscles, soft tissues and bone via the HUGE web-like fascia that surrounds literally everything in the body means that we may work on one area in order to benefit another.  For example, therapy around the face and poll can help the lower back and pelvis.  An issue in the offside hind can be indirectly approached by working on the nearside fore. 


Horses don't need to have a known injury or issue under saddle to benefit from massage therapy though.  Many things affect musculoskeletal health - turnout/stabling routine, emotional experiences, travelling, diet, exercise, time out of work, conformation, hydration, feet, acute or chronic health conditions, pharmaceuticals, social experiences, electrolyte balance and more - some of these we can influence, some we can't.  Most of us carry some kind of muscular tension somewhere, or have a preferred/habitual way of moving.  All of these things can cause widespread tightness, cause tissue to adhere, block circulatory pathways and overall impact health and performance.  Therefore most, if not all, horses find benefit in having appropriate manual bodywork.

Here are some of the specific ways in which massage/manual therapies can help your horse;

  • Helps delivery of nutrients and blood flow to muscles and other soft tissues

  • Increases efficiency of energy metabolism for muscle function

  • Reduces muscular/fascia tension (which could be affecting multiple areas -everything is interconnected!)

  • Reduces adhered and dehydrated tissues

  • Helps to flush toxins and lactic acid from the body

  • Facilitates enhanced range of motion and suppleness

  • Stimulates/aids the immune system

  • Forms part of a muscular warm-up prior to work/sport

  • Reduces the risk of injury

  • Helps to reduce/prevent scar tissue

  • Reduces emotional tension, promotes relaxation

  • Addresses various performance issues

  • Prepares the musculoskeletal system for work

  • Aids rehabilitation


Being able to listen to the horse's responses to various areas of focus and techniques being used, further helps us to understand where restriction, hypertonicity, tension and pain may lay.

When I come and see your horse(s), to ensure they get the very best level of benefit, I need to do a dynamic assessment, and complete a basic history form to give me some background and information about their current health/lifestyle/work/routines etc.  I will leave you with a summary of what I find and areas that I've targeted, plus any relevant suggestions which may help them to maintain optimum musculoskeletal health.  Where applicable, I may refer you to other specialist professionals - working with you and them as a team, to focus on the 'whole horse'. Each session is individually tailored to your horse's needs.

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