Equine Shiatsu Essex
Holistic Bodywork For
The Wellbeing Of Your Horse

what is shiatsu?​

Shiatsu (pronounced “she-at-sue”) means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese and is a type of holistic bodywork. It can be described as ‘Acupuncture without the needles’ or as ‘Japanese Physiotherapy’. It is beneficial for all types of horses, donkeys, and mules, and a wide range of issues (it works really well for people and dogs too! I’ve even worked with cows!)


It works mainly by applying gentle sustained pressure to certain points on the body. This stimulates the body’s own electrical charges (which make moving, thinking and feeling possible) which therefore help the body and mind to heal. As it acts upon the fascia (connective tissue which is continuous throughout the body) it is possible to improve the mobility of, say, a damaged hind leg on one side by working the front limb on the other side. This is obviously very useful when there is an open wound, or for very nervous or body  sensitive horses. Some work can even be done ‘hands off’. Deep relaxation is promoted during a session, vital to keeping healthy – assisting healing and regeneration processes.


Shiatsu works at the root causes of issues, rather than just the symptoms. It can act as a preventative measure, identifying possible health issues at an early stage – so they can be dealt with before they develop further. Shiatsu assists other treatments such as Chiropractic (making adjustments easier, more effective, and longer lasting) and can help horses better accept Dentist and Farrier visits.


There is the saying “you don’t have to be ill in order to get better”; Shiatsu enhances wellbeing, assisting horses give their best in whatever work they do and feel at ease wherever they are. As it helps strengthen the body it can act as a preventative measure against injury and illness; and can mean a faster recovery time if injury or illness does occur. Massage techniques with limb and tail stretches are often included within a session; aiding circulation, body awareness, coordination and balance


Many vets now suggest using Shiatsu to aid recovery after (or in preparation for) surgery, and to help reduce shock. All horses can benefit from this wonderful therapy – whether they are in work, are field companions, are rescued, recuperating, or retired. Many of the horses I work with have issues such as arthritis, lameness, allergies; respiratory, digestive, or hormonal problems; anxiety, introversion, or overexcitement. Regular sessions are recommended to enhance wellbeing and as part of a general health maintenance programme (usually each month to 6 weeks or so – at least for the first 3 sessions). Ideally sessions should be held when the yard is at is quietest, not around feed times etc, and generally not on a day when the horse will be worked. Prior to a session the Vet needs to be notified (I’m happy to do this on your behalf) and I ask you to please fill in my form, so that I can get an idea of your horse’s background and character. Sessions are horse led and non invasive. For optimum results sessions need to be coupled with good nutrition, hydration, exercise, mental enrichment, and regular dentist and tack checks. As imbalances in the horse can transfer into the rider (and vice versa) it can be useful for horse and rider/handler to both receive treatment in order to rectify any muscle or emotional tensions and open a route to improved experience and wellbeing.

As a veterinary surgeon since 1993 I have seen how complementary treatments are of huge benefit to many animals. I believe they are extremely effective in providing positive results and helping animals recover from all sorts of injuries and illnesses.

I would recommend all owners to consider complementary treatments.

Dr Michaela Schmidt MRCVS CVA 

Veterinary Surgeon

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