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Massage For Horse Owners Course

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Last week I joined Gillian Higgins at Horses Inside Out HQ to help out for the day with the Massage For Horse Owners Course.


This is a live course that Gillian runs several times per year and is designed for horse owners to work on their own horses.


The day began with welcoming participants to the venue, directing parking and making sure everyone was aware of where the facilities were and more importantly where they could get a cup of tea or coffee!


gillian higgins horses inside out massage day course with Gillian Higgins classroom lecture

The group was smaller than usual due to COVID restrictions, and everyone had to have taken a Lateral Flow test with a negative result.


However, other than having sanitiser on hand and having to maintain social distance, it was exciting to feel like the world was getting back to normal and we were finally able to be around like minded people enjoying a day of learning with horses!


The day began with some theory, including some lovely descriptions from Gillian of how the experience of massaging your horse should be:


· A bonding experience with your horse

· Like a dance

· Helping you gain a connection


gillian higgins horses inside out the effects of horse massage

Gillian also shared:

· Why we want to massage horses

· How to ‘read’ horses during massage

· Contraindications to massage


Understanding the Contraindications is really important for horse owners to understand, as there are cases where massage is not appropriate. You can find out more about these here.

Then it was onto practical demonstrations and applications for the rest of the day.


In my previous blog you will have seen my introduction of Toby, the latest addition to the Horses Inside Out team.




This was Toby’s first day as a demo horse and he was an absolute natural. He looooved being massaged 😊


gillian higgins horses inside out massage for horse owners - effleurage demonstration on toby classroom

During the course participants were able to learn a whole list of massage techniques to take home and work on their horses, these included:


· Skin moving

· Effluerage

· Kneading

· Goading

· Friction

· Tapotements


And also combining massage techniques with movement, which really helps to promote suppleness in your horse.


And of course learning with Gillian would not be complete without an anatomy lesson!


gillian higgins horses inside out classroom lecture anatomy for massage day course

 gillian higgins horses inside outclassroom lecture importance of equine anatomy for horse massage with Gillian Higgins

What is so great about learning with Gillian is she has so many resources at her disposal because of the books she has written and the models she has made.






gillian higgins horses inside out classroom lecture muscular anatomy for horse massage


So part of the day was also learning about the bony landmarks of the horse, which is key to massage, as let’s face it, who wants to be massaged on a bony area?


For this part of the day I brought the infamous Freddie Fox into the class room and Gillian invited participants to identify the bony landmarks on her pony skeleton and then paint them onto Freddie’s body using a traffic light system.


gillian higgins horses inside out boney landmarks massage day course for horses with Gillian Higgins education traffic light marking up of bony landmarks

RED – very close to the surface, avoid direct pressure

ORANGE – less close but be aware when massaging

GREEN – direction of the muscle fibres in areas that can be massaged deeply


This was such a fab, interactive day. The group were encouraged to ask questions and get hands on with the horses.


gillian higgins horses inside out massage day course for horse owners with Gillian Higgins through teh stable window

My secret favourite member of the HIO Team Little Pumpernickel thoroughly enjoyed his massages too.


 gillian higgins horses inside out  loving the massage day course for horse owners with Gillian Higgins

I had such fun assisting for the day and getting involved with the practical part of the sessions.


The weather that day was so windy and wet but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits and Gillian’s new indoor classroom came into it’s own meaning we all stayed warm and dry, including the horses.


massage day course for horse owners with Gillian Higgins students  practising on each other hacking

gillian higgins horses inside out student participation massage day course for horse owners with Gillian Higgins

gillian higgins horses inside out Atlas massage around poll horse

I highly recommend this course to any horse owner looking to help keep their horses comfortable between sessions with their therapist, it is also a fantastic way to learn what is normal for your horse and then you will know sooner if something changes and they do need a professional.


If you are thinking of getting on one of the courses though do get in fast as spaces are limited!





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