“Prevention Time” with Equine Massage

Performance horses, like human athletes, work very hard to reach top results, to run faster, to jump higher and to accurately execute technically difficult maneuvers. Often this high level of training comes at a price resulting in more musculoskeletal injuries, pain and prematurely worn-out animals.

In a holistic approach, the equine massage awareness method addresses both the physical and emotional stress of the horse.  The physical stress of exercising, the workload, as well as travels and competitions, all will result in body tension and nervous fatigue.  Equally at the same time, your horse’s personality, disposition, his fear, his anxiety and sometimes his boredom can add to his nervous stress.

what is the trouble spot massage?

To help with the nervous stress of your horse, the massage awareness method offers you a “trouble spot” massage routines which sole purpose is to relieve a horse’s musculoskeletal and nervous stress in a quick and efficient way by massaging methodically very specific areas of his anatomy. The “trouble spot” massage routine is divided in seven locations which are “keys” to the horse’s athletic performance.  It is a very efficient way to keep your animal fit especially if your horse exercises regularly.  My book “Equine Massage, A Practical guide, Second Edition” (Howell equestrian Library, an Imprint of Wiley Publishing) presents a solid foundation for learning proper application of equine massage.  The massage awareness method teaches people who are actively involved in the life of their horse(s) how they can safely and efficiently care for their animal friend(s) with equine massage. This easily learned method enable you to, in a natural way, actively participate in the care, fitness and well being of your horse.

In this article  we will offers you information on the “trouble spot” massage routine for a better maintenance and prevention of your horse’s musculature.  Regardless of if you use the “trouble spot” massage routine independently or in conjunction with the maintenance massage routine, this routine will achieve positive results right from the first application and even more over the course of several sessions.  Regular application will be your best preventive approach as well as getting direct feedback on the progression of your training program.

technique and duration

For best results we recommend your start this routine with a light pressure of 3 to 5 3 pounds, progressively building to 8 pounds.  When over large muscle areas you can increase to 10 or 12 pounds maximum. Keep your pressure light when going over bony areas, as you could cause some bruising.


Your rhythm should be smooth of 1 movement per second throughout the entire routine.  As you breathe calmly and deeply, a strong sense of relief and relaxation will be induce onto your horse.  The video #EV018 will give you all the visual guidance you need to start on the right track, just as if Jean-Pierre was there in person.  The massage awareness method with its relaxation massage routine and proper warm-up and drainage techniques, shows you how to properly apply this “trouble spot” massage routine.


The “trouble spot” massage routine (chapter 6) concentrates on the key attachment sites of the muscle groups involved in the locomotion of the horse – the poll, the lower neck, the withers, the shoulder, the anterior aspect of the back, the rump and the hip. It is designed to deal with musculoskeletal problem that commonly occur and to prevent their corresponding stress points from developing and the eventual trigger point from forming.  This particular sequence of work will clear muscular tension resulting from your training, regenerating proper muscle action to the rest of the body. 

The “trouble spot” massage routine can be done within 30 minutes, including the short version of the relaxation massage routine.  If coupled with the maintenance massage routine of the entire body, it could last up to 60 depending on the size of your horse and his level of training.  Your horse will feel a great sense of well-being and relaxation following this massage session.
Be gentle and always assess your horse’s feedback signs (chapter 2) as well as the feedback given by your finger tips (the 4 T’s listed in chapter 3).  As you massage these areas if you detect some mild level of inflammation, apply the Ice cup massage technique (chapter 4) for a few minutes to decrease the sensitivity of the nerve endings and reduce the inflammation.The regular application of these massage routines will contribute to a great feeling of relaxation for your animal allowing him to feel more rested and more giving after exercise, travel, fatigue or other stresses.  Furthermore, besides giving you prime feedback on your horse health, frequent applications also creates a stronger bond between the two of you.           

I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful.  My goal is help you provide quality home care for the benefit of your animal.

Please visit our FREE library. Our many articles address important aspects of animal wellness and fitness. Take the time to scroll through our free library to find out how you can actively contribute to your horse’s wellness.

Animal Massage Awareness also offers a large video library with over a 100 mini-videos that will show you how to easily perform the various massage and stretching techniques talked about in this article, and more. These videos offer you the correct start and visual guidance. With this knowledge, you will be able to develop a good home care program for the benefit of your animal friend.  He will love you for it.

Enjoy your new Awareness!

Jean-Pierre Hourdebaigt, MT

Recommended DVD Downloads

The “Trouble Spot Massage Routine” (EV018), the “Stretching Exercises” (EV007), the “Trigger Point Massage technique” (EV010), the “Stress Point Massage Technique (EV011), the “Origin-Insertion Massage Technique” (EV012), the “Stress Point Locator” (EV013), The “Kinesiology of the Horse” (EV020) DVDs are very helpful in the preventive upkeep of any active horse.

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