History and consultation

The initial session involves a full assessment of your animal, taking a full history with details of their current exercise regime and daily routines. The owner will be consulted about reasons for treatment and any issues or concerns regarding current performance. Confirmation of veterinary consent will be required.

Veterinary act

The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 states: it is illegal for anyone to treat an animal without veterinary surgeons approval.

Most vets are aware of the benefits of complimentary therapies including McTimoney therapy and sports massage and will readily give their permission of the animal to be treated. This must be obtained before an appointment. Used alongside conventional care, complementary healthcare treatments can aid rehabilitation, performance and improve well-being.

Static assessment

The animal will be viewed standing still, checking for any heat swelling bumps or abnormalities that would indicate a contraindication (reason the horse cannot be treated), checking also for soreness, and evaluating conformation and muscle symmetry. Contraindications may include:

  • An undiagnosed injury or condition
  • Unexplained heat or swelling
  • Skin lesions possibly caused by bacterial, fungal or viral infection
  • The animal is abnormally lethargic or gone off it’s feed
  • Elevated vital signs
  • Weight bearing lameness
  • Acute azoturia
  • Dehydration
  • Significant injury less than 7 days old
  • Colic

Dynamic assessment

The animal’s movement will then be assessed, ideally by a walk and trot up on a hard surface. Horse assessment will include turns and backing up, followed by lunging or ridden work on a soft surface when required.

The treatment

Treatment can be carried out anywhere that is quiet, safe and with good footing (bedding or rubber matting), it does not need to be in a stable.

If possible please ensure that the horse is clean, free from mud. A rug may be required in cooler weather.

A handler will be required, preferably the owner, of someone with good knowledge of the horse where possible.

A typical session will last around an hour.

The horse will then be palpated along its neck back and pelvis to identify any misalignments, asymmetries and areas of muscle tension. The misalignments are then treated with precise high velocity thrusts to correct misalignments. The practitioners hands will be used for the analysis and treatment, relying on her finely tuned sense of touch to allow detection of even minute misalignments. A variety of massage techniques and strokes (including compression, percussion, direct pressure and cross fibre friction) as well as stretches will also be used to help address the problem. Spasms and adhesions will be softened and the affected areas broken up until soft.

Most horses enjoy the sessions and accept treatment readily. For worried and unsettled horses, it may take a little longer to become accustomed and relaxed with the techniques. A gentle approach with care and patience means even the most nervous horses usually become accepting of the techniques within a few sessions.

At the end of each session I will leave you with relevant follow up exercises to work on between sessions to gain the most out of the treatments.

Post treatment

After assesmnet and treatment of each individual animal, a through aftercare programme will be provided to meet the needs of the animal and owner.

Usually a day of rest is recommended, followed by a few days of controlled exercise, usually returning to normal exercise and routine over 7 days.

More long term changes may also be suggested depending on the individual. Often after an initial session a follow up treatment may be required in 10-14 days to assess the animals response to treatment, and routine treatments are recommended every 3-6 months as part of a maintenance programme and to head off any issues before they become established.

IEBWA: International Equine Body Worker Association