Updated: Feb 3
Massage Arabic – to press!
The complex of manipulations:
Kneading, squeezing, stretching, pulling of skin, muscles, and other soft tissues with movement occurring in different directions and tissue depths.
The result is a pressure change
The Benefits of Massage are:
1. Increase blood flow to the muscles and promotes healing
2. Pain relief
3. Enhances muscle tone
4. Improves circulation
5. Reduces inflammation
Contra-indications for massage (do not apply massage!)
• A lame horse that has not been seen by a vet
• A horse suffering any infection, local or general
• A horse with any lymphangitis
• A horse with any skin conditions
• A horse with any undiagnosed abnormality
Health and safety check
How much pressure should be applied?
It depends on the size and pain tolerance.
Sometimes “less is more”. Always check for the feedback!
Always watch for signs from your horse!
(+) signs - his breathing getting softer, his heart rate slowing or a general feeling that your horse is more supple to your hand.
(-) signs - if your horse feels pain or soreness he might move away from you, start to get an uneasy look in his eyes or tense his body.
Number of applications
Recommended 3 application over one area but it depends on how tender is the area.
Palpation – examination of the area with the hands to find some problems of tissue changes (swelling, scar tissues, pain, tumour)
1. Effleurage - slightly more pressure than you would use when you would
just stroking, use all over the body. Initially/during and at the end. This technique increases the blood flow and helps remove toxins from the body
2. Stroking (calming and stimulating). Serves as an introduction for the masseur and to calm the initial anxiety of the horse
3. Petrissage (kneading, compressing, squeezing, wringing). This technique for working deeper into the muscle and removing tension and spasm and stretching the muscle for better elasticity. Could be painful, perform it slowly and carefully. Start down the neck, spine and through the hind legs
4. Frictions (to rub), for lesions and scar tissue. This should never be used before all the surrounding tissues have been thoroughly warmed!
5. Tapotement – rhythmical “karate action” with your fist or palm. Clapping, cupping, hacking – for circulation, muscle tone. Use this technique on a large group of muscles – hindquarter or shoulder area
It is always nice to have 15 minutes massaging your horse, to relax, enjoy your horse’s company and strengthen your relationship.
If you would like more help on how to massage your horse, feel free to get in touch at