Equine Massage Therapy for Horses And Ponies

massage for horses - horses massage each other in the wildMassage is a centuries old therapy for horses. Its use can free up tight muscle tissue, enhance blood circulation, improve muscle tone and relax and calm the horse.

For horses involved in competition, equine massage therapy can boost performance by improving range of movement and stamina, because you are improving muscle quality and circulation.

The ultimate goal of equine massage therapy for your horse is to restore freedom to each muscle group.

Tight Contracted Muscles in Horses can be improved my massage

When a horse's muscles become tight or in a contracted state this puts pressure on surrounding tissues.

This results in a decrease in blood circulation, restricted movement and pain. If not relieved and loosened this muscle tightness can cause more problems and will continue to worsen.

More than 60% of the horse's body weight is muscle and muscular problems can be

a source of a variety of problems and training set-backs.

Other equine massage techniques include direct pressure in varying intensity to relieve a spasm, shaking to increase circulation, and vibration to get to the deeper muscle structures and equine joints.

Nerve manipulation such as stretching and pressure is used for nerve maintenance and therapy, and friction helps to break down scar tissue over the horse's muscle fibres.

Whilst they are working equine massage therapists are looking out for problems in the horse that can be indicated by tenderness in certain areas, body temperature, tension, feel of the skin and muscle fibres.


Technical training is required to learn and understand equine anatomy and the physics of motion.

Prompt attention to minor muscle injuries not only improves a horse's performance but may also prevent major problems in the future.

Massage is an excellent, drug free non-invasive treatment that can have fast results. A specialised form of massage is Equine Body Work

There are several massage movements, which can be used in a combined treatment, and have great effect on the horse's skin, muscles, blood vessels, lymphatic system and nerves.


massage rug for horsesOne of the basic massage techniques used on horses is stroking, which is intended to affect the central nervous system by soothing the horse.

Equine massage therapists may also use hand held massagers or pads and massage machines such as the Equissage equipment from Niagara Healthcare developed for use on horses.

These are available for purchase by individuals and can be used to great effect, but be sure to get a good demonstration on how to use these equine massage machines before you buy!

Benefits of Massage Therapy for horses

  • Improves muscle tone
  • Relaxes muscle spasm and tense muscles
  • Relieves
  • Helps maintain joint flexibility in the horse.
  • Reduces congestion within blood and lymph vessels
  • Faster healing through the increased flow of blood to the muscles and improved dispersal of excess fluids and toxins.
  • Stimulates or relaxes the nervous system
  • Stretches connective tissue
  • Reduces inflammation of tissue in joints
  • Prevents the formation of adhesions and fibrous bands in muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Increases intestinal movement
  • Stimulates glands
  • Helps clean pores
  • Improves circulation


In the UK The Veterinary Surgeons Act of 1966 states that any owner may give massage to their horses, but that anyone else must have permission from the owner?s veterinary surgeon before giving any treatment.
massage pad

When to use Massage on your horse

  • To aid your horse to recover from a diagnosed lameness, if recommended by your vet
  • On horses with reduced performance as it helps to return the muscles and joints to full flexibility.
  • To improve performance of healthy horses.
  • Equine massage is of great benefit to competition horses as part of a warm up routine, releasing tension and loosening the muscles.
  • Equine massage is also of enormous benefit after competing when used as part of your cooling down.
  • To relax and tone your horse as part of its daily grooming routine.
  • To help keep an older horse or pony active.

When NOT to massage your horse

  • Don't massage a horse that is suffering from Azoturia (“tied-up”).
  • To treat a lameness that has not been seen by a vet.
  • If your horse suffering an infection - massage can spread the infection further through the horse's body
  • Where a horse is suffering from Lymphangitis.
  • If your horse has a fungal skin infection.
  • On a horse suffering from an undiagnosed illness
If in doubt ask your veterinary surgeon.

Equine Massage Therapy for a Horse or Pony, massage to relax horses muscles.