Welcome to Equine Kneads!

How will I know if a Horse will benefit?

Some information about Equine Bodyworks

"By the time you notice a problem with your horse's movement, muscular dysfunction has already  taken hold," Leslie Berro says "With a consistent equine therapy program customized  your horse's needs, you can avoid injury, improve biomechanical function, and enhance the overal performance of your equine athlete.  Prevention is the best medicine"

Did you know that?..... "When the muscles are tight, the horse shows discomfort by stretching his neck upwards or to the opposite side during rest periods.  During motion, the horse is fine on straight lines, but on circles he will be off.  Eventually he will be off on all movements"
This quote is referring to the brachiocephalic muscle that runs on each side of the neck, attaching on the base of the skull and first cervical vertebra and running downwards to anchor on the upper end of the humerus (point of shoulder)
This muscle can become stressed/sore/tension when 'free forward movement is prohibited'...


Did you know the horse has a neck ligament that originates from the back of the skull and attaches with a segment at each of the neck vertebrae it then continues along the back across all the vertebrae.

Many back or neck injuries/soreness stem from a weak or tense ligament caused by incorrect riding



Equine Kneads teaches their participants bodywork. Equine Bodyworkers are to use their hands only; no instruments - they are not to diagnose, treat, cure , or use any instruments.

Equine Massage is offered for relaxation, general well being, or other non-medical purposes.

 A horse is made up of 60% MUSCLE which is the organ for locomotion

Any Horse in work, Any retired horse and Any horse on Rehab/Lay up can benefit from Massage……Why? (good questionJ )

 Horses in work can have muscle tension that will turn into a spasm. A spasm is contracted fibers unable to obtain their own release. It WILL grow in time. As it grows the horse can become “off” or “not move right” this can be as a result of the spasm. Horses will learn to compensate themselves by not traveling straight, acting girthy, back sore, swapping leads, tossing their heads or head shy (jaw pain), refusing fences. The list is endless.

ALSO……..they will start to use their joints to compensate for the lack of muscle.

 Do you know of a horse who acts 'girthy'?....That is not always a behavioral issue but can be perceived as one. The girth lies on the pectoral muscle which can become bruised, torn or sore. Once that muscle is injured and the horse is continually girthed they may display "behavioral" problems even after the muscle is no longer sore. Massage can help with that!

 Did you ever slip on ice, fall in a hole in the yard or just sit or sleep wrong? You wake up the next day sore, right?-------Horses can become sore from rolling, playing in the field, getting cast in a stall, slipping in the aisle and many times horse owners are unaware.. All the owners know is that when they go to ride the horse 'does not feel right' or is 'acting bad'....When in fact the horse may be sore and now is asked to; bend, collect, engage their hind end, jump a fence, extend for Dressage, collect for Western Pleasure, pivot on their haunches for Showmanship and cannot.  The sore muscles combined with the demand to perform can exacerbate the initial soreness and create bad behavioral problems.

 Have you ever had a 'kink' in your neck and were unable to turn your head?  Horses hold tension in their upper neck. If a horse were tense or had a spasm it would be uncomfortable for them to bend or turn their heads..Massage will help loosen those sore muscles so they are soft/supple and able to stretch and bend without injury!

 Massage can help relieve the initial discomfort or soreness and aid in keeping a horse balanced & supple!  The horse will be MORE willing to perform since they feel better!! And of course……..they will be happier horses.

 A Retired Horse can benefit because the #1 BENEFIT of MASSAGE is INCREASED CIRCULATION…..As a result of the increased circulation the body releases endorphins (body’s natural pain killer) and loosens all of the muscles rebalancing your retired equine partner!

 Boosts immune system

 Many older/retired horses may have medical issues such as Cushing’s Disease, Navicular and/or Laminitis…Massage is VERY helpful in loosening the shoulders which become sore from hoof pain.  Many times the older horses have lower back & Gluteal (rump) pain from 'rocking back'. If a retired or older horse moves around less, Massage aids the body by increasing the circulation which also will help with digestion and overall mental well-being.

 A horse in Rehab/Lay up can have 'muscle memory'...the horse may "think" they are still injured..Massage will help INCREASE the circulation and PROMOTE RAPID HEALING  .... This will help prevent any more injuries and re-injuries!

 Horses do not speak the English language so we have to adapt and create a 'Joint Communication'. This course will show you how to better understand what horses are telling you.

 The Certification Program will show participants how to apply the "nurture stroke" which can be used to comfort a horse. It can also help horses at Shows to quiet them...Or...if a horse is colicking it can help with pain..


   If you are interested in participating in the Program, please check the Certification Program page for available dates!!




Here's from www.aaep.org
June 2007
"Ask the Vet"



Question: How do you view the alternative therapy industry with regards to massage therapy for horses? Do you think it is has a place within horse rehabilitation for muscular problems?

Answer: Click To View

I have come to realize in my practice, I feel there is a huge advantage in using alternative therapies in any rehabilitation program if performed by someone that has training in that modality and is working in conjunction with the treating veterinarian. Rehabilitation takes a team effort form all people involved with the horse and all parties must be in argeement in the course of treatment.

Acupuncture, therapeutic ultrasound and different modalities of massage therapy are wonderful tools to speed up recovery, especially in muscular injuries as well as increase the comfort of the patient if done along with the conventional modalities.


 * Massage Therapy is NOT a subsitute to Veterinary Care. ALL Veterinary care supercedes and owners are encouraged to contact their Veterinarian if they have any problems/concerns. Massage is used with conventional care provided by a Vet. It is also used with proper health care, maintenance and training. Massage does not attempt to cure anything. Equine Massage Therapists do not diagnose!



Reducing Back Sensitivity

by: Christy West, TheHorse.com Webmaster
March 30 2008, Article # 11573

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Back pain is often suspected in horses, but most treatments haven't been researched much or at all. Results of a study designed to measure the effects of massage, chiropractic, and phenylbutazone (Bute) on back sensitivity were presented at the 2007 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in Orlando, Fla. Kevin Haussler, DVM, DC, PhD, assistant professor within the Department of Clinical Sciences at Colorado State University, reported on the study.

Researchers used pressure algometry (a spring-loaded device with a rubber-tipped plunger that measures applied pressure on a gauge readout) to measure mechanical nociceptive threshold (MNT)--the pressure at which a horse reacts painfully--at several locations along the spine. This method of objective pain assessment is also used in humans to evaluate pain due to fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and other conditions. A higher MNT means more pressure is required to elicit a response, so the horse is less sensitive or painful.

Researchers theorized that subclinical back pain is present in all ridden horses, so therapy should lessen that pain and raise MNTs. Thirty-eight healthy adult horses with no history of back pain from four farms were used for this study, which aimed to see which treatment modality raised MNTs the most over the course of a week. The horses were treated as follows:

Pressure algometry can help researchers measure pain.

  • Seven horses received Bute (1 g/500 pounds orally every 12 hours) for a week.
  • Eight received one chiropractic treatment using a spring-loaded mechanical force instrument at localized regions of joint stiffness, abnormally high muscle tension, or pain (this mechanism ensured a consistent force/velocity of the treatment).
  • Eight received one directed massage by a certified massage therapist.
  • Seven received no treatment, but continued to be ridden (active controls).
  • Eight received no treatment, but were turned out and rested (inactive controls).
  • All horses' MNTs were evaluated on Day 0 (before treatment) and at Days 1, 3, and 7 post-treatment.

The results of MNT evaluation on different sites on each horse were pooled for evaluation, and the numbers were somewhat surprising, said Haussler.

  • The Bute group actually had a negative response, with 9% and 8% lower MNTs on Days 1 and 3 compared to Day 0. On Day 7, this group had an 8% higher MNT. Bute is much more effective if given when active inflammation is present, noted Haussler.
  • Massage was beneficial throughout the study period, with an 8% higher MNT on Day 1, 9% higher on Day 3, and 12% on Day 7.
  • Chiropractic resulted in a slight (1%) decrease in MNT on Day 1, an 11% increase on Day 3, and a 27% increase on Day 7 on average.
  • Both active and inactive controls' MNTs fluctuated by about 1% across all days.

"We hypothesized that low-grade back pain or inflammation was present in ridden horses, and we found this to be true; otherwise the MNTs would not have increased in all three treatment groups relative to the two control groups," said Haussler.

**"Massage was beneficial throughout the study; Bute had negative effects for 3 days, then it had a positive effect; and chiropractic had a negative effect on the first day, but then it had the most positive effects.

"Pressure algometry provides an objective tool to evaluate commonly used, but unproven, treatment modalities for the treatment of back pain," he concluded. "Future studies need to evaluate combined treatment effects and long-term MNT changes in horses with documented back pain."