The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

7.10.2021 An Excerpt From Horse Massage For Horse Owners


Think of this book like a recipe book. The ingredients of massage are explained and taught separately – anatomy and technique – and then mixed together in specific measures in a specific order with specific timing to create a simple, effective, enjoyable massage routine.

This Introduction gives you some background on massage. It is therefore important to read through it, and I ask that you take a few minutes to do so. It will help you to understand what massage is, and why I recommend that you massage your horse on a regular basis. I believe that you will be far more motivated to massage your horse regularly if you understand why you are doing so.

The first chapter, Learning Massage, is where we start getting practical. You will learn initially to massage using yourself as the subject (your forearm) and / or a friend or partner. This gives you the chance to make mistakes without worrying about the consequences, to receive valuable feedback on how well you’re doing, and to sharpen your skills until you feel you’re ready to take them to your horse.

The second chapter, Equine Anatomy, explains where you will be massaging, and why it’s important to massage there. The anatomy of the horse is fascinating and incredible. Built for both speed and endurance, a complex system of bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles comprise the musculoskeletal system that you will be working with. This might sound complicated but you needn’t worry, I’ve chosen seven key muscles to discuss (I’m counting the pectoral group as one here – see Chapter 2) and, through an awareness of these, you will be able to create an effect throughout the whole body.

Chapter 3, Massaging Your Horse, pulls together all the information given so far and puts it into a full body massage routine for you to use with your own horse. I’m hoping that you will take this book to the yard with you as a reference, and you will be able to look at it to remind yourself of anything you’re unsure of. At the back of the book is a useful ‘prompt section’ to help you remember the routine described in Chapter 3.

Chapter 4, Problem-solving, focuses on common training issues and behaviour problems that I see on a regular basis, and how you might be able to help overcome some of these using massage. This chapter aims to help you to help your horse, in an effort to reduce stiffness and pain and to improve performance. It is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified professional.

Chapter 5, Frequently Asked Questions, does exactly what it says on the tin. I have been teaching the Horse Massage for Horse Owners course for several years now, and there are certain questions that come up every time. I’ve included these in this chapter in the hope that I will cover the majority of your questions, along with providing some useful background information.

The final Useful Information section offers advice on where to go for further information. Often you will find that one interesting link will lead you to another, and so on, enabling you to personalise your learning to suit you and your horse, and to continue to improve your knowledge and skills.

There are many different schools of massage, and many different approaches to equine therapy. This book is written from my own view-point (excepting the anatomy information, which is universal). There are, of course, some areas were there is no confusion or ambiguity, but massage in general is open to interpretation, both in the equine and the human field. This text is intended to give you the confidence to get started, to put your hands on your horse and ‘give it a go’. If it achieves this goal then I have succeeded in my objective, and I know that your horse will appreciate your efforts. If you want to stick with what you learn in this book, then there is more than enough here for you to be able to give long-term benefit to your horse and, at the same time, enjoy for yourself the advantages that you are giving him. If you are inspired to look into massage or physiotherapy in more detail then I would encourage that, and there is plenty to look into.”

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© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion