The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

7.9.2022: An Excerpt From The Book ‘Horse Massage For Horse Owners’ by Sue Palmer

Safety First

When you are massaging your horse, the safety of both you and your horse is of the utmost importance. Massage should be an enjoyable and relaxing way of spending time with your horse, so it is worth taking some simple precautions to make sure this is the case.

Wearing sensible clothing and footwear will mean that you are more comfortable around your horse as well as being safer. You should remove rings, watches and bracelets for the comfort of yourself and of your horse.

Take care of your own body. If you are aching after the massage, it probably means that you were not using your body in the most efficient way. Think about your posture, the direction that your feet and hips are pointing, the way you are holding your wrists and the way that you are using your fingers. Try different positions until you find ones that are comfortable for you.

Where you massage your horse can make a big difference to his relaxation and comfort levels. You can massage him in the stable, in the yard, or in the field, wherever you and he feel relaxed and happy. It will be easier, though, if he is dry and relatively clean. Make sure that the surrounding area is safe and relatively free from distractions. Take a good look all around you before you begin.

If you decide to stand on a mounting block to be able to reach your horse more easily, make sure that the block is safe and secure, and that you can move it to wherever your horse is most comfortable. The block should be solid in case your horse steps towards or onto it by mistake.

In most cases, starting at the neck or the shoulder is a good place to begin – most horses are happy with you working in this area and are used to being stroked and patted there. However, if your horse is uncomfortable with you working here for whatever reason, then try starting somewhere that he is comfortable with. If he still seems uncomfortable and reactive to your touch, consider calling a professional such as your vet or physiotherapist to assess him further.

It is advisable to have a handler holding your horse for the first couple of massage sessions, until you know how he will react to your touch, and you are more able to concentrate on him instead of learning the techniques and the routine. Communication with the handler, as well as with your horse, is vital. This means explaining to your handler what you are going to do and when you are going to do it, and not making any surprise moves. Your handler should hold your horse on a loose rope so that he doesn’t feel that he needs to pull or push into the pressure of the rope. They should stand on the same side of the horse as you are working, so that if your horse needs to move, they can direct his head towards them and therefore his quarters away from you.

Communication with your horse means, amongst everything else, keeping a close eye on your horse’s reactions and responding accordingly. Making sure that you always have one hand on your horse will mean that you don’t surprise him and are therefore less likely to trigger an instinctive ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Remember that if you find a sore spot, your horse may let you know in a number of ways, which can include biting, kicking, and moving sharply. Be prepared, observe your horse at all times for signs of how he is feeling about his massage, and allow him to communicate with you in a safe way.

For more information and to order your copy of ‘Horse Massage For Horse Owners’ today, visit

Description of ‘Horse Massage for Horse Owners’ by Sue Palmer

”This book is a must for anyone who would like to improve the health, wellbeing or performance of their horse. Practical, educational and easy to follow, the author shares with you the knowledge and skills you need to massage your own horse. Learn about equine anatomy, massage techniques, and how to combine the moves to develop a complete massage routine. With the emphasis on how you can work with your own horse, Sue offers an insight into how to reduce pain and stiffness in your horse as well as improve performance. Massaging your horse gives something back in return for all he does for you, and will help you and your horse to truly enjoy the time that you spend together.”

5 star review on Amazon from Ann T

“I was really impressed by this book. Written clearly, with relevant illustrations that reinforce the text, it tells you what to do and explains why. I enjoyed learning a bit more about the horse’s anatomy and it made it easier to understand the massage. The techniques do take some practice – my forearm and partner are as well massaged as the horse! – but they get easier. My older mare certainly enjoys the sessions and it seems to give me feedback on how she’s feeling. I think she’s moving more easily too. Our horses have benefitted from treatment from both physiotherapists and osteopaths previously and this would in no way replace their expertise, but would hopefully be a useful adjunct. The FAQs are informative and the prompt section a useful idea. The book is great for amateurs like me but I feel that professional riders may find it of interest as well.”

Publisher: ‎ J.A.Allen & Co Ltd; Illustrated edition (30 Aug. 2012)

Language: ‎ English

Paperback: ‎ 128 pages

ISBN-10: ‎ 0851319998

ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0851319995

Dimensions: ‎ 19.05 x 1.27 x 24.13 cm

For more information and to order your copy of ‘Horse Massage For Horse Owners’ today, visit

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion

September 7, 2022
Sue Palmer