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Benefits and Application of Equine Sports Massage

Preventitive Maintenance:

Guidance before, during and after training or competing and as part of an overall well-being programme

Lessened risk of injury due to fatigue or strain


Rehabilitation Following Injury:

Compensatory soft-tissue issues are addressed

• Improved gait quality, range of motion and flexibility

• Improved disposition and stamina

• Muscles associated with an orthopaedic issue are kept flexible and free of pain

• Improved circulation

• Relief of tension

• Stimulation of waste and toxin elimination

• Lengthening of connective tissue

• Improved muscle tone

• Through passive stretching: allowing for greatest range of movement, reducing strain on tendons and

ligaments, maximizing tendon and muscle elasticity, developing a longer stride as shoulders move with greater

freedom, improving range of motion in hips and shoulders allowing for easier lateral work, improving flexibility

in upper arms thus reducing risk of injury during stressful demands, causing less fatigue as muscles and joints are

more flexible, improving circulation to all tissues this requiring less effort during warm-up so energy is conserved

for athletic exertion


Signs of Muscular Pain

Tactile defensiveness: to the touch or whilst being tacked up, unwilling to move forward, refusing jumps or

dropping poles, unable to back up, not tracking up, working with quarters in or out, unable to execute lateral work,

changing canter leads behind, not striking off in correct canter lead, unwilling/unable to work up or down inclines

or hills, change in disposition, change in eating or sleeping habits…


A Typical Sports Massage Session

The session commences with a full evaluation of the horse to determine how its confirmation might affect its work

as well as taking note of any muscular asymmetry. A basic check of dental health and shoeing progress is carried

out as well as an examination of the horse’s own saddle. The horse is walked and trotted, both along straight lines

and on both sides on a circle whilst being lunged.

During the session the horse is massaged from region to region using various palpation and massage techniques.

Range of motion and mobilisation exercises are applied once muscle groups have been isolated and softened.

Point Therapy is used where areas of sensitivity are identified – this is followed by a cross-fibre friction technique

to reduce points with muscle spasm. The whole area is then once again softened before stretching is carried out.

At the end of the session the owner or handler of the horse will be introduced to safe static and dynamic follow-up

An individual working programme will be discussed with the owner, detailing specific exercises which will benefit

muscle development. Where necessary it may be recommended that the horse’s saddle fit, teeth or shoeing

progress are checked by respective specialists.

The session will last anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes, normally hugely enjoyed by the horse who will often

reply with a satisfied lick and a sigh!

As veterinary liaison is essential, it is often preferred for the veterinarian to be present when the body worker and

owner discuss the progress of the horse.

By law, Equinology Equine Body Workers have to obtain veterinary permission and/or referral before