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Giving your horse a massage

Posted in : on 13-06-2022

The importance of a horse massage

Maybe you got once a massage, but did you know it is important to massage your horse once in a while? Your horse is an athlete and you expect a lot from him/ her. If you go with your horse to a forest to relax, you might find it important to ride nicely. Sometimes you can’t even notice it when you horse hasn’t its day. Horses are stars in compensating their weight over four legs. And because we don’t watch our horse 24/7, you might haven’t noticed it when it fell in the pasture or when it was stuck in the barn.  

Causes of muscle tension

Marijke van Beek (Horse masseur): “During my work I encounter many ‘diagonal’ problems. I know something has happened that one leg is at full tension. It usually works in the back and the diagonal leg. This means, that if your horse has tension in its right front leg then it works on the left hind leg. Complaints that are associated with diagonal problems are e.g.: horses that don’t want to walk over their back, difference in trots or bucks when cantering. But I also encounter problems causes by the rider. We riders influence our horse a lot unconsciously. This is because we are right or left handed and have a preferred side. This is why I also work together with sports therapist Annemarie from AnnieTime to keep riders in optimal condition”.

Preventing is better than curing

It is importance to keep a close eye to the movements of your horse. Make sure that you have a warming-up for the muscles before your start training and make sure that you give your horse enough rest after exercising. If you expect a lot from the muscles of your horse, we recommend to treat your horse in time with a horse massage by a certified masseur or by doing some stretching exercising yourself. This way you decrease the chance on injuries and helps your horse to stay ‘looser’ and make movements bigger. The ration and supplements also influence the condition of the muscles. We recommend magnesium, an important mineral, that your horse needs. Magnesium also helps the signal transmission from and to the muscles, but also ensures that the muscles stay relaxed. You could say that calcium helps to tense the muscles and magnesium to give energy for relaxation.

Massage and stretch exercises

Did you know that you could use some exercises to train your horse as well? You can do some exercises yourself without hiring a horse masseur. Marijke van Beek from MVB HorseBalance has told us which exercises these are.


Exercise 1: stretching the front legs

  • Place two hands on the pastern
  • Take the front leg forwards, but don’t stretch it
  • Put the leg slowly to its original stance, but don’t let it fall

Stretching the front legs


Oefening 2: Schommelen met de schouder

  • Place one hand on the knee, 1 hand under the lower leg
  • Let the leg ‘fall’ in the hand and push it behind with the hand resting on its knee

Swing with the shoulder


Exercise 3: Stretch the back of the foreleg and tendons

  • Place on hand on the lower leg, 1 hand on the upper leg, Shoulder to shoulder
  • Help the leg to go backwards

Stretching the front legs


Exercise 4: Bend to the hindquarters

  • Stand next to the horse at its hindquarters
  • Show the horse a treat and entice him to bend the hindquarters

Bending to the hindquarters


Exercise 5: Bending to the shoulder

  • Stand next to the horse at belly-height
  • Show the horse a treat and entice him to bend the shoulder


Exercise 6: Stretching the legs backwards

  • Place one hand on the knee, 1 hand on the pastern
  • Carefully guide the leg backwards
  • Hold this for 10 seconds


Exercise 7: Stretching the hind leg forward

  • Place two hands on the pastern
  • Lift the leg up and take it forward
  • Don’t put the leg on the ground


Exercise 8: Bending the hind leg

  • Placet wo hands under the lower leg
  • Grab the leg off the ground and guide it first forward
  • When the leg can’t go further, lift the leg up


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