Carolyn Cohen is an equine bodyworker, biomechanics expert, and independent tack fitter who founded her company, CC fits, in 2018. Her Equestrian Masterclass, Equine Biomechanics and Bodywork 101, teaches you about analyzing your horse’s movement and patterns in order to help him feel and perform his best.
Our horses work hard and more often than not, they are struggling from stiffness and soreness in silence.
Our job as caretakers and riders is to listen to our horses and work to understand how they are feeling along with how we can make them more comfortable.
While this does not in anyway replace the work of a bodyworker or equine professional, learning simple equine massage techniques that you can do at home can help you gain a better understanding of where your horse is carrying tension, build a better relationship with your horse, and allow your horse to become more comfortable with equine bodywork. Not to mention, this can allow your horse to maintain their results between bodywork sessions.
Regular palpation and massage can improve your relationship with your horse while allowing you to better understand their body. Overly tense muscles are difficult to strengthen and build, so it’s important to address these in your equine athlete.
Technique #1: Massage for the neck
Starting at the base of the shoulder, take the palm of your hand and begin massaging in small, circular motions all the way up through the upper part of his neck. It’s important not to overcomplicate this. Listen to your horse to gauge what pressure they want and continue to work all the way up the neck. The more you pay attention to them, the more they will be communicating with you on what feels good, what they want more of, and what is a triggering point for them.
Technique #2: Massage for the back
For the back, use the same motion as technique #1 all the way through the lumbar. Be aware if your horse seems to be prone to back soreness by paying extra attention to your horse’s body language. Do this for as long or short as your horse allows and at whatever pressure works for your horse. This may seem basic, but these techniques are the first basics of massage. You can do this before or after riding, working around what best suits your horse and their routine.
Technique #3: Massage for the hind end
To massage the hind end, you’re going to want to push a bit harder using your fingers. Since the hind end holds very large, meaty muscles, you’ll be able to more accurately and efficiently reach the muscles with your fingers, while still working in circular and small motions all across. Search for any tense muscles and again go in little motions to draw awareness and loosen up the muscles. By implementing these massage techniques, you will be able to promote circulation and keep your horse’s muscles supple and happy. Like with anything, the more you do it, the more improvement you will see. In addition, the better your relationship will become with your horse.
This is just the teaser! Learn all things biomechanics and bodywork with Carolyn’s Equestrian Masterclasses: Equine Biomechanics and Bodywork 101.