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This is a general overview of the "tools" in my box. Please explore my resource page for further understanding and exploration.

Sports Massage

Jack Meagher pioneered the field of equine sports massage in the 1980's. Since then, sports massage has largely been considered a stimulative modality. However, it also offers therapeutic benefits, such as stimulating circulation and restoring proper metabolic function to the muscle tissue.

Sports massage consists of various strokes, compression, direct pressure and cross fiber friction. As I palpate your horse, I'm feeling for tightness, spasms, dips or divits, and temperature changes, as well as noting the horse's response to my touch.

Myofascial Release (MFR)

Fascia is a three dimensional connective tissue that extends throughout the entire body. Ruth Mitchell-Golladay, a renowned equine massage and physical therapist, refers to this tissue as a "living matrix, or net". It supports, protects, separates, and surrounds cells, tissue, and organs. When fascia suffers trauma, it tightens around the nerves and blood vessels traveling through it, thus cutting off circulation and proper metabolic function to that area.

To release this tension and restore circulation, I apply pressure with my hands to the same spot for at least 90 seconds. As I sink in, slowly letting the tissue guide me, the muscle softens and the tension dissipates. MFR is a subtle yet powerful technique that, when combined with other modalities, yields tangible results.

Proprioception Ground Exercises

Proprioception Ground Exercises are based on the findings of Moshé Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist and the founder of the Feldenkrais Method. Feldenkrais discovered that changes in the way we move can actually affect our proprioception. This understanding can be applied to horses through the use of ground exercises. By guiding the horse through a specially designed course, I help to expand his awareness of his body's relationship to space. I can thus influence old patterns that are a result of a previous injury or lameness and improve his balance and coordination. With some very simple props such as tires, cinder blocks, and fence posts, I can help you create a course tailored to the needs of your horse.


When a horse aquires an injury, he adopts a compensatory way of moving; a way to shift the weight away from the pain. Over time, his injury heals but his compensatory movement can linger on. The muscles throughout his entire body will reflect this, either through hypertrophy or atrophy. To address these imbalances and evenly condition his body, you must work your horse using specific exercises, from both the ground and under saddle.

Based on your horse's particular issues, I can design a conditioning routine that can easily be incorporated in to your regular exercise program.

Stretching and Range of Motion (ROM) Exercises

ROM exercises move the joints through their full range of motion, helping them stay well lubricated. Stretching will help your horse stay limber, keeping his soft tissue as loose and functional as possible. Stretching and ROM exercises are best done after the horse has warmed up and can be a nice ending to a body work session or a conditioning routine.

Copyright © 2007-2010, Shelley Duffin Kevin Hoelscher