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What is Equine Sports Massage? Horses are not anatomically designed to carry the weight of a rider. His structure naturally puts 60%  of  body weight on the forelimbs with the remaining 40% on the hindquarters. Thus, a riding horse must learn to lift up off the shoulder and withers area and engage the hindquarters to propel his body forward. He does this in order to avoid damage to his back and the joints in his lower legs. Bodywork optimizes the horse’s economy of movement and enables the strength and flexibility necessary for him to comfortably support a rider.  In today's intensely competitive equestrian community you need an edge.  If your horse is NOT in the best possible condition for an event, that can be the difference between standing at the top of the podium and not finishing in the ribbons. Muscle problems are cumulative in nature and the resulting pain and stiffness can rob your horse of his athletic potential. A traumatized muscle (from over use or injury) will tighten, then spasm, then become a knot, leading to a shortening and tearing of the muscle! No amount of rest or anti-inflammatory medication will resolve the knot.  

Horse Muscles.jpg

What is Equestrian Massage?
First of all, let’s talk about what massage actually does. A good example is to close your fist and squeeze.  You’ll notice that when you do this your fingers are locked in a position and can’t move freely.  If you were to hold it long enough you would notice that it feels like “pins and needles”.  This is because when your fist is closed tight you are lessening the blood flow to your hand.  Now open your hand and stretch it out flat in front of you.  When it is stretched out you can easily wiggle your fingers and any “pins and needles” feeling goes away as blood flow returns to normal.  The same is true for other muscles in your body.  When they are contracted, they are like the closed fist.  They lose their flexibility and cannot get proper blood flow.  Massage seeks to relax the muscle and get it back to its original, elongated state.  Just like the outstretched hand, the relaxed muscle has proper blood flow and full flexibility.


So why is this important to the equestrian?
As riders know, the cliche of “becoming one with the horse” is true.  The horse is trying to figure out what you want it to do. Being a highly sensitive animal, it takes its cues from the subtle movements of the rider’s body.  Dressage is a perfect example of this.  When done properly the movement of the rider is so subtle it is imperceptible to the viewer.  Yet the horse reacts and moves fluidly with the rider.  If the rider is stiff it is like Frankenstein trying to dance . . . the result is a “forced” communication to the horse and a less enjoyable ride.  It can also lead to unintentional cues being given to the horse.

How does it help?
For example, we once had a client that had a horse that kept going toward the left no matter what they did.  After trying different training methods to no avail, the rider to came to us.  We noticed the rider had a very slight misalignment in their hips.  This was causing the rider to subconsciously give the horse cues with their legs to go to the left.  We did a lot of massage work to relax the muscles that controlled the hips.  The result?  A horse that walked straight, a happy rider and a stronger bond between the two.

Equestrian massage is just one of the many specialty massages that we offer.  Book your equestrian massage and stay tall in the saddle for many years to come!


  • Improves disposition of the horse.

  • Increases range of motion.

  • Relaxes muscle spasms and relieves tension.

  • Enhances muscle tone.

  • Increases circulation.

  • Promotes healing by increasing flow of nutrients to the muscle.

  • Reduces inflammation.

  • Positive effect on contractual and release process.

  • Stimulates the lymphatic system.

  • Excretes toxins.

  • Releases endorphins- natural pain killers.

  • Trust. Massage can help horses associate touch with something positive and enjoyable.

  • Helps keep the entire body in better physical condition! 

  • 60% of the horse's body weight is muscle.

  • Hyper-contraction is the way the muscular system responds to stress.

  • Muscles do not show up on X-Rays.

  • Muscle problems are cumulative. If one muscle hurts, the horse must compensate by overuse of other muscles. (snowball effect).

  • Compensation for injuries can cause muscular tension.

  • Horses anticipate pain.

  • The body is interconnected.

  • Tendons are connected to muscle. Tendon injuries may be related to muscular tension. 

  • Horses compensate for not only their own imbalances, but also rider imbalances.

  • Sports massage aims to find these areas of pain and restore them to their natural state.

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