“When synchronization of the body is lost through muscle tightness, the body’s reflexes, endurance, balance, freedom of motion, and safety are impaired.” - Jack Meagher, Founder of Equine Sportsmassage

Massage and bodywork can be powerful tools for restoring your horse's maximum muscle efficiency.  Primary issues such as repetition of motion, oxygen debt, injury/trauma, illness, chronic conditions, poor tack condition/fit, conformation nonconformities, hoof imbalance, or dental discomfort can all lead  to muscle tightness.  Even after the primary issue has been resolved, tension and restriction often remain and cannot be released without the help of massage and bodywork.


  • Sore or rigid back
  • Travels hollow-backed, carries head high
  • Not fully extending one or both fore-legs
  • Not fully stepping under behind, not engaging hind-end
  • Trouble picking up/maintaining particular canter lead
  • Heavy on the forehand
  • Intermittent, unexplained ‘lameness’

  • Choppy or stilted gait

  • Refusing jumps, hanging a leg, knocking rails
  • Resisting lateral movements, especially in one direction
  • Resisting bending the neck, especially in one direction
  • Holding head flat, crooked, or to the side; leans heavily on one rein
  • Girthiness
  • Head-shy
  • Difficulty flexing through the poll
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Bucking, rushing, and other behavioral issues
  • ‘Hitch’ or falls out behind
  • Drags or scuff a hind toe
  • Hind-legs track close to mid-line (rope walk) 
  • Outward rotation of hind-leg on forward stride
  • Swings hip out to one side
  • Saddle slips to one side
  • Refusing to travel up or down hills


There are many instances in which equine massage and bodywork may be an inappropriate modality for a horse in need of other facets of care.  Contraindications for the use of massage include acute injuries (open wounds, lameness, heat, swelling),  illnesses (cancer, fever, inflammatory diseases such as cellulitis), or pregnancy (especially during the first and last month). Upping Stone welcomes the opportunity to confer with your veterinarian to determine if massage or bodywork is an appropriate adjunct to your horse’s rehabilitation process.