FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

When and why should my horse receive massage therapy?

There are many circumstances in which ESMT (Equine Sports Massage Therapy) may be useful. Sometimes the signs are subtle but nevertheless they could be significant and may include:

  • A change in behaviour
  • Dislikes being groomed
  • Head shaking, tilting or holding it high
  • Resistance to relax and drop head carriage
  • Holding the tail to one side
  • Uneven shoe wear
  • Excessive rolling
  • Cold backed when tacked up, or hollow backed
  • Generally feeling that your horse is not quite right

Other signs may be more obvious and affect your horse’s performance during exercise and training. The most obvious sign is a loss of performance. This may occur following an injury sustained after a fall or your horse may have injured himself whilst travelling or sometimes just playing whilst turned out.

Signs to watch out for may be more obvious but sometimes can be easily missed until the problem becomes worse. So always be aware that your horse may have a problem if you notice any of the following:

  • Loss of performance
  • Bucking
  • An uneven stride length
  • Asymmetry in motion
  • Uneven muscle development or muscle
  • Lateral stiffness
  • Injury or fall sustained
  • Change in temperature
  • Sore muscles (causing discomfort to touch)
  • Muscles feeling stiff or solid to touch
  • Lameness or stiffness
  • Lack of co-ordination
  • Conformation issues
  • Resistance when asked to back up
  • Unable to track up
  • Prefers one rein or struggles to keep straight
  • Struggles to execute lateral work and lack of bend and poll flexion
  • Favoring one canter lead or unable to maintain the correct lead
  • Refusing to jump or always knocking down poles
  • Struggling to work up or walk down hills
  • All of the above could be signs of pain and discomfort in your horse and should be investigated.


Vets Consent

In order to practice massage on a horse/pony in the UK, the ESMT must have the permission from the client’s veterinarian prior to applying the treatment. This is a rule of The Veterinary Act 1966.

It is the responsibility of the client to obtain such approval, qualified Equine Sports Massage Therapists will provide you with a form for you to pass to your vet.

Your vet may or may not wish to see your horse before giving consent. All information provided by the owner and vet is treated in strict confidentiality by the therapist.

If you would prefer me to contact your vet regarding the consent form I would be happy to do that –
please contact me  or download the form for vet consent here.

Are you insured if anything goes wrong?

I am a fully qualified ESMT (Equine Sports Massage Therapist) and in accordance with the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 I am fully insured. It is a fundamental requirement that a therapist has adequate public liability insurance and malpractice cover before commencing treatment.

If you would like any more information on ICAT, ACAT or the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, please visit their websites:

Institute of Complementary Animal Therapies (ICAT) – www.theicat.co.uk

Association of Complementary Animal Therapies (ACAT) – www.theacat.co.uk

Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 – www.rcvs.org.uk