Other Equine Anatomy
As mentioned earlier, this lesson is to introduce
you to the basics of equine anatomy and
The muscular system, skeletal system, and
nervous system have been covered more
completely since the muscles, skeleton, and
nervous system are very important to understand
when applying equine massage therapy and
other alternative therapies.
The remaining body systems are going to be
covered very briefly. If you wish to know more
about these systems, I will recommend books
that you may purchase for further study.
Click on Horse to
go to Anatomy Charts
The Circulatory System consists of the Cardiovascular System and the Lymphatic System.
The cardiovascular system consists of the heart,
arteries, veins, capillaries and blood.
Blood carries the much needed oxygen and nutrition
through the body.
The heart pumps the blood out to the body through the
arteries, through the capillaries, and returns to the
heart by the veins.
Equine Massage helps the cardiovascular system by
increasing the circulation in the area being addressed.
It releases restrictions in the tissue which could be
resulting in a restriction of blood flow.
The lymphatic system is the other component in the circulatory system.
The lymphatic system consists of small vessels that contain lymphatic fluid and the lymph nodes.
The lymphatic system is different from the cardiovascular system in that it does not have it's own pump (like
the heart). The lymph system works by the muscles moving and pushing on the lymph nodes. So, I guess
you can think about your muscles being the pump.
This is one of the reasons why exercise can help make you feel better. It moves the lymph fluid through your
body and removes the toxins that have built up. This is also why you may feel bad if you don't move around
Equine Massage will help to increase the flow of the lymphatic fluid. There actually are routines that are
designed specifically for that purpose.
To help move the lymphatic fluid during a massage, you would use effleurage strokes in the direction of the
center of the body - or the heart.
The respiratory system includes the nose, mouth,
pharnyx, trachea (windpipe), bronchial tubes and lungs.
The diaphragm is a large, flat muscular organ that
separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. The
diaphragm aids in breathing and also in defecation.
Breathing enables the body to get oxygen into the
system. This oxygen is a necessity for the body to
stay alive. It also helps to feed the muscles and remove
Massage indirectly assists the respiratory system by
increasing circulation throughout the body, allowing it to
bring in more oxygen to increase the health of the
The job of the endocrine system is to produce hormones. These hormones regulate growth, development and many
other functions including reproduction and metabolism.
The endocrine system is very complex and is beyond the scope of this website.
If you would like to learn more, you can see my recommendations for books to purchase.
The urinary system consists of a pair of kidneys, the ureters, the bladder and the urethra.
It is responsible for maintaining the balance of fluids in the body and eliminating waste in the form of urine.
The kidneys biggest job is to filter the blood to remove waste products. Which is then sent to the bladder by the two
ureters. From there it is removed from the body by way of the urethra.
I think we are all familiar with the function of the urinary system. But one thing to be on the look out for, massage
can make your horse need to go (if you know what I mean). It is not that uncommon for a horse to urinate right in
the middle of a session.
If your horse starts to act "fidgety" - you might want to give him a break to see if he needs to relieve himself. This
happens because massage helps to increase circulation, which will increase the movement of fluid, which the
urinary system will get rid of. So, even though it can be embarrassing, it is a good thing.
One time I actually had a horse urinate twice during the session, but then other horses won't need to go at all. Or,
the will go as soon as they are set free.
The digestive system consists of the mouth, pharnyx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, cecum, large intestine
The digestive system is obviously the place where your body consumes and breaks down food to feed the rest of
Massage helps to improve digestion because it will put your horse into the parasympathetic state that we talked
about during the section on the nervous system. A horse that is relaxed will exhibit many gut sounds that let you
know their digestive system is active.
The reproductive system is also very involved and is beyond the scope of this website.
However, I would like to mention that massage can help horses with reproductive problems. It helps them to relax
and increase circulation - which improves their immune system - which in turn can make them a healthier horse.
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