Equine Massage Therapy Techniques
Petrissage is probably what most people think of
when they picture a massage. That is because
petrissage is one of the main movements used in
After you have prepared your horse's muscles by
using nerve strokes and effleurage, you are now
ready to move into working out some muscle tension
and restriction problems.
Petrissage is the next step. There are many
variations to petrissage, and you can play around and
find what works best for you and your horse. The
basic stroke of petrissage is a kneading type
movement. It is meant to increase the circulation to
the tissue and to help soften the horse's muscle
tissue and to help prepare it for deeper equine
One way I like to apply petrissage is by using the palms
of my hands to "pick up" the tissue.
Start by balancing your hand with your fingers touching
your horse. Curve your hand so that the heel of your hand
is touching your horse and your fingers are being used for
balance. Apply pressure to the heel of your hand by
"leaning" with your body weight and moving the tissue
in a circular motion.
You may do this with either one hand, or two. Be sure to
keep both hands on the horse at all times either way.
Start out light at first and work deeper as - and only
if - your horse allows. You can pretend like you are
kneading bread. It is a very similar movement.
You will alternate from hand to hand, working from
your hips/pelvis - not your shoulders. Using your
hips is better for your body mechanics. It also helps
to keep your movements smooth and rhythmic as
well as keeping you from "pushing" into your horse's
muscle using your strength instead of leverage.
Always be sure to apply petrissage only to your
horse's muscle areas. Do not apply them to bony
areas. Your horse will not like it!!!
Another way to apply petrissage is to use your hands formed into loose fists. Sink your fist into the muscle
tissue by "leaning" your body weight into your horse - not pushing.
You may also apply petrissage to small areas by using your fingers or thumbs. Just be careful not to fall into using
them very often. You will tire quickly and probably have very sore thumbs Please read the section about Proper
Body Mechanics for Equine Therapy if you have not already done so.
Petrissage is also used quite often for Equine Sports Massage Therapy since it is a stimulating movement and
it's purpose is to increase circulation and release tension in the horse's muscles.
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