Equine Massage Therapy Techniques
One of the most used strokes in Equine Massage Therapy is Effleurage.
Effleurage is a gliding stroke done with the palm, whole hand, fingers, or even your arm. This stroke is used to
"open" the tissue and to get it ready for other massage movements. It can be used alone, if you desire.
Because the horse is standing instead of laying on a table, there are many variations of how to apply effleurage.
I will describe the most common way to use effleurage, which is with the palm of your hand.
Be sure to stand behind the stroke and do not bend your wrist beyond a 60 degree angle. Use your weight to
lean into your horse and "glide" over the muscle tissue in the direction of your horse's muscle.
You may use one or both hands. You may use them together to cover large areas or you may use them
alternately on smaller areas. Be sure to lighten your pressure as you go over any bony areas.
You will start with light effleurage and may work into a deeper effleurage as your horse allows. You use your
body weight to determine the amount of pressure. Do NOT push.
A good way to use effleurage to "open" a muscle is to make 3 passes. One light, one medium, and one a little
deeper. Be sure to listen to your horse.
You will also use effleurage to "close" a muscle. Meaning that once you have applied all of the movements you
find necessary, you will "close" with effleurage to help drain any fluids you have loosened up in the muscle. Be
sure to go with the direction of the hair and toward the heart, if possible.
Effleurage is used in Equine Sports Massage Therapy. It is used to help drain the area of toxins and lactic
acid that can be produced from a heavy workload.
As you can see, Que is very tall which is causing my arms to be above my shoulder. Usually, if I am working
on the back of a large horse, I will stand on a mounting block or some type of sturdy stool to make it easier for
me to use proper body mechanics.
I know some people frown on the use of stools during equine therapy claiming it is not safe. But don't most
people use stools for mounting, braiding a horse's mane, etc?
I think that it is better to use a stool or mounting block than to cause strain on my own body. I do, of course,
make sure that the horse I am working with is OK with me standing above them and that I feel this is a safe
option or I won't do it. Honestly, I have not had a single problem.
If you are not comfortable using a stool or mounting block, or the horse you are working with is not comfortable,
then by all means don't put yourself in danger.
Information presented is for educational purposes only and is not intended
to replace professional opinions or recommendations.
Consult your veterinarian for advice about any medical condition or
treatment needed for your horse