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What Is Equine Massage?


Equine Massage is the application of hands, using massage techniques applied to the horse, which gives a great boost to the body, not only in the physical sense by relaxing the muscles therefore promoting good blood flow and drainage of toxins from the muscles, but also psychologically. Massage is very relaxing and comforting.


Massage helps to trigger your horses natural ability to heal, due to the increased circulation which brings nutrients to the tissues and takes away waste products, that can build up and cause problems for muscle function. It can also help to tone and strengthen the locomotary system, but not a substitute for exercise.

Equine Holistic Massage
Benefits of Massage?


When used as a maintance and preventative massage: This can help to spot problems in the muscles (especially muscle spasms) before they become more serious. The therapist will assess the way your horse moves to gain insight, to which muscles could be tight or sore, paying extra attention to those areas.


Can help with orthopaedic issues: This can help by keeping muscles flexible and pain free, therefore helping to reduce secondary problems which may arise in the soft tissue, because of compensatory movement from pain caused by the orthopaedic problem. 


Making these improvements of movement, motion and flexibility, will cause less wear and tear to soft tissue and joints, which will prolong their working life. Massage also promotes blood and lymph circulation, toxin release through muscle spasm release, and improved nervous stimulation of the muscles. 


What is a muscle spasm?


A muscle spasm is a collection of muscle fibres in a contracted state, with lactic acid and toxin build up which cannot realese. The fibres surrounding the muscle spasm work much harder to compensate for those fibres which are not working. They tire easily and become part of the spasm, therefore spasms grow. They can go virtually unnoticed and can lead to injury, as the muscle is worked to the limits of it capability. The only way to free a spasm is by deep effective massage. But there is some signs of symptoms we can spot before this happens.


  • Increased stiffness

  • Reduced flexibility and agility of movement

  • Carrying tail to one side or/and swishing

  • Horse favouring one canter lead over the other

  • Head held up high or constant throwing up of head

  • Constant jumping to one side

  • Uneven strides



Some Of The Techniques Used:


Effleurage (stroking)


Effleurage is the technical term for long stroking movements, used to relax the horse and to introduce the therapist as a non-threatening and trustworthy figure. Effleurage then moves on to provide a vital role in the routine, to relax the animal both physiologically and psychologically, and as a tool to enable the therapist to start evaluating the body tissue. All massage routines, both for human and equine, start and finish with this technique. Effleurage is the use of long, rhythmic, gliding, slow strokes. 


  • Promotes relaxation

  • Warms superficial tissue, resulting in increased localized temperature

  • Relieves pain (natural release of endorphins)

  • Increases Circulation, assisting in delivery of nutrients and oxygen and removal of waste products

  • Increases Lymphatic flow, assisting in removal of waste

  • Slow strokes achieve relaxation

  • Rapid strokes stimulate the body


Petrissage (compression)


Petrissage is a technique used once the tissues have warmed up and have started to relax. It is a compressive technique using finger compressions. Local compression is followed by release, therefore influencing the deep tissues. Techniques performed to deliver petrissage are; kneading, picking up, wringing, squeezing, shaking, skin rolling and deep vibrations.


  • Increases blood and oxygen supply to muscles

  • Slow movements relax nervous system

  • Increase glandular activity of skin

  • Mobilises tissue

  • Assists the bodies natural healing mechanisms to separate and broaden muscle fibres

  • These techniques are aimed at replicating pressure changes within tissue, which occur naturally during muscle movement




Friction is a technique which involves locating stress points present throughout each muscle group. The technique is performed using a single fingertip, or by one fingertip supported by a second and. on the larger muscle groups where the spasm may be deeper, the elbow may be used. Deep pressure is applied and released over any areas of pressure to separate any fibres held in spasm, to help restore the blood supply to the area. The blood supply carries oxygen and removes the toxins released by the muscle fibres no longer held in spasm. Therefore the muscle spasm is released and the whole muscle is able to fully stretch and relax again.


  • Stimulate tissue

  • Assists  the bodies natural healing mechanisms to break down adhesions within the muscle tissue, resulting in   re-establishing the body’s natural cleansing and healing processes

  • Reduces muscle spasms and pain

  • Assists to broaden and separate muscle fibres

  • Used for deep tissue work

  • Helps mobilise deep scaring

  • Helps to mobilise adherent tissue 

  • Relaxes tense muscles

  • Increases circulation, blood & oxygen supply to muscles and removal of waste products


Please Note: None of the treatments are intended to replace or act as an alternative to conventional treatments given by a Vet. The Veterinary Surgery Act of 1966 (amended 1996) prohibits anyone other than a Veterinary Surgeon to diagnose ailments and giving of advice on such diagnosis.  

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