Sports & Equine Therapy 





Sports Therapy is an aspect of healthcare that is specifically concerned with injury prevention and rehabilitation of the patient back to optimum levels of functional, occupational and sports specific fitness, regardless of age and ability.

It utilises the principles of sport and exercise sciences incorporating physiological and pathological processes to prepare the participant for training, competition and where applicable, work.

What is a Sports Therapist?

A Sports Therapist is a healthcare professional who has the knowledge, skills and ability to:

  • utilise sports and exercise principles to optimise performance, preparation and injury prevention programmes
  • provide the immediate care of injuries and basic life support in a recreational, training & competitive environment
  • assess, treat and, where appropriate, refer on for specialist advice and intervention.
  • provide appropriate sport and remedial massage in a sport & exercise context
  • plan and implement appropriate rehabilitation programmes

The spectrum of expertise that a Sports Therapist possesses is built within five key areas of competency related to injury and illness in the sport and exercise environment.

These are:

  • Prevention
  • Recognition & evaluation
  • Management, treatment & referral
  • Rehabilitation
  • Education & professional practice issues

Within each of these areas Sports Therapists are trained and educated in principles that have sound practical and evidence based philosophies with solid sport and exercise science foundations.

Sport and Exercise Therapy is not just about Sports Massage. However, Sports Therapists possess highly advanced massage skills that are an integral part of their scope of practice, applied in conjunction with other modalities such as electrotherapy and exercise prescription.

Sports Therapists are not Physiotherapists, but will apply similar skills. Physiotherapy is defined as “the treatment of disease, injury or deformity by physical methods including massage, heat treatment, electricity and exercise, rather than drugs or surgery”. Therefore many skills and modalities are similar, but applied in a sport and exercise perspective rather than a traditional healthcare context.

Sports Therapists are capable and proficient in applying the necessary rehabilitation principles, to enable their patients to achieve the optimum levels of recovery, that their injury or disability will allow.

Equine Sports Massage is the therapeutic application of recognised massage techniques adapted to be used on the horse for the purpose of increasing circulation and range of motion, optimising muscle tone and improving overall health and performance.

A thorough understanding of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics - the interaction of bones, joints and muscles are the basis of this proven physical therapy.

An Equine Sports Massage Therapist looks at the horse as a whole and attempts to consider all possible causes and effects of any restriction or altered performance, whilst interpreting reactions and expressions upon stimulation.

Massage should form part of the routine care for the horse, but is not a substitute for veterinary attention.

Equine Sports Massage is a Complimentary Therapy used alongside your usual Veterinary care. In accordance with the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, Veterinary consent must be obtained prior to commencement of any massage treatment. 

Used during training and pre and post competition, massage helps maintain muscle health, eliminating restrictions that may inhibit muscle development, maintains strength and suppleness and reduces muscle atrophy even during a period of box rest or restricted work.

After exertion massage minimises stiffness and speeds repair to tissue damaged as an inevitable result of physical stress and fatigue.

As well as manual manipulations, active and passive stretches are also utilised to help maintain optimum muscle tone.


Does your horse do or show signs of any of the following:

  • Dislikes being groomed
  • Poor or altered performance
  • Prefers one rein
  • Show lateral stiffness
  • Reluctant to canter on one lead, becomes


  • Hollow backed
  • Abnormally high head carriage
  • Head shaking
  • Bucking
  • 'Cold backed' when tacked up
  • Lack of poll flexion and bend
  • Head tilting
  • Lack of bend
  • 'Falling out' through the shoulder
  • Working 'quarters in'
  • Have an uneven stride length
  • Altered tail carriage
  • Reluctance to go up or down hills

Excessive rolling or reluctance to roll

All of the above can be signs of pain and discomfort and should be investigated.


Massage is also a fundamental tool in the prevention of injury.

Early detection of muscle imbalances and atrophy, along with identification and elimination of adhesions can help prevent injury through overuse or compensation.

More than 60% of the horses body weight is muscle, and small soft tissue injuries can take up to 90 days to become apparent (through a change in attitude, decreased performance and/or altered gait) by which time they may have caused more serious injury.

Prompt attention to these ‘minor’ muscle injuries not only enhances a horse’s performance but also may prevent future problems. Muscle tightening is transmitted from one muscle group to another, either directly through added physical stress or indirectly through compensatory movement.