Palpation as Part of a
Thorough Equine Evaluation
Palpation is when you actually use your fingers
and hands to touch the horse and explore it's
Palpation is easier than Body Scanning for
some people, but it also takes practice to get
really good at it.
You will use your fingers and hands to go over
the horse's body looking for areas of tension,
"knots", soft or puffy areas, tender areas, or
maybe even areas the horse won't let you touch
You will also be looking for hot and cold areas
like in body scanning (or in place of body
Starting at your horse's head, feel for tension around his ears and his jaw. Move down his neck and check for
tension, etc and also to see if the cervical vertebrae seems even on both sides of the neck.
Check for tension, tenderness, etc. in the neck and shoulder junction. This is a common spot for horse's to
have tension or spasm.
Move your hand down between the front legs to the pectoral muscles and check for tension or a "lumpy" feeling.
This can have something to do with horses who don't like being girthed.
Next, check up near the withers and into the shoulder. It is very common for horses to have spasms and
tension in this area as well. Especially in the tricep muscles.
Place your fingers on each side of the spine and
make three passes down the vertebrae. One light,
one medium and one deeper pressure. Look for
tight, tense, or tender muscles. By placing the
other hand on the abdominal muscles, you can
feel if your horse is tightening here as well. If so,
you will want to spend some time working on your
horse's back. It is not uncommon for one side of
the back to be tighter than the other.
Next, check the pelvis and hips. Since it is such
a large area on the horse, take some time to
explore this area from top to bottom, and then
front to back. Try to cover all of the major muscle
groups and Stress Points.
And, last but not least, check to see if your horse is holding tension in it's tail. Horses with clamped down tails
often have problems in their back. Since the tail is an extension of the spine, you can get an idea of what your
horse is feeling in his back.
You can also palpate down your horse's legs to check for tenderness, swelling or heat.
You will be able to gather a lot of information from your horse by palpating his body.
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