The condition of your horse’s muscles, including those on your horse’s face, can give you great clues about their physical condition and wellbeing as well as their internal, emotional state. Those clues can point to the need for your horse to be seen by a veterinarian/equine dentist (and in some cases a trimmer/farrier, chiropractor, equine physio) and/or to have a closer look at the quality of your contact and the training postures the horse is asked to perform in.
If the poor muscling is training related, the goal is not to practice, what Dr. Ridgway used to call “revolving door therapy” but to be willing to put your training in question and scrutinize your riding. Examine your contact, the postures you ask the horse to work in the size, shape and frequency of the figures and movements you use and more.
Manolo always checks the masseter and temporal muscles carefully, and massages them as part of his discovery process. Massage can help a horse that is tight in his jaw unclench, regain some welcomed jaw mobility and ease tensions and restrictions – not just in the jaw but throughout the entire body. If a horse is tense in his jaw, there is a cascade effect which reverberates through the horse’s entire body, most notably in his poll, neck, back, shoulders, lumbosacral junction, pelvis, stifles, hocks and more.
Below, you will find a practical sheet on how to massage your horse’s masseter and temporal muscles from Debranne Patillo, CEO and founder of Equinology. It contains an anatomical overview as well as massage recommendations for these two important muscles. We recommend printing and laminating these how to sheets when they are available and keeping them with you at the barn.
To learn more about equine bodywork for amateurs and professionals go to EQUINOLOGY.
DISCLAIMER: Manolo is a professional and he has been doing body work for decades along with in-hand and riding. Horses can react strongly if their muscles are uncomfortable so work with an accredited equine bodyworker or massage therapist that can show you how to check your horse safely.