Anatomy Of An Equine Massage: Part Two

Anatomy Of An Equine Massage: Part Two

Continuing Equinology's series on massage techniques for your horse. This month introduces the move known as The Melt.

Move #2: The Melt
If someone walks past as you perform this new move, you are sure to get some wise cracks since it almost looks like you are literally holding up the horse. Ignore them; we know you can't hold up the horse unless you're the Incredible Hulk. You'll like this new move since the horse does most of the work for you just like last article's introduced move. If you did not have a chance to look at Part One, take the time to review it especially the guidelines for massage.

Place the palm of your hand at the lower region of the area which needs work but this time the hand and fingers will be perpendicular to the area of concern. Apply just enough pressure inviting the horse to lean into you for more. Wait a few seconds, and horse will offer more by lowering his head and neck or lowering his body depending on the area you are addressing.

Areas For The Melt And Technique:
Area 1: Rhomboideus: This is the pink strap in figure 3A just below the mane. 3B diagrams the muscle for you in relationship to the skeleton. One of the many components of self carriage is the ability to raise base of the neck and to do so, the rhomboid muscles has to actually lengthen.

When You Might Use This Stroke In This Area:
- If the horse bulges his neck and holds his head high with his nose leading, he is working with this muscle shortened. This is an "upside-down" or inverted horse.
- If this muscle is restricted (shortened), he will resist coming on to the aids or into the bridle.
- When tight and sore on one side, he may hold his head and neck towards that side.

Step By Step:
- Stand facing the neck.
- Place the palms of your hand cupping the bottom edge of the rhomboids. It is best to try this around the middle of the neck. If you have an exceptionally large horse, you may want to do this in two positions.
- Try to keep as much bend out of your wrist as possible. It helps to think about keeping your elbows down. Put a slight bend in your knuckles to take the tension out of your hands.
- Again ... breathe!
- Lean into the horse just enough so he meets the pressure without stepping away.
- If possible hold for at least 90 seconds.
- Let the horse relax and then try again.
- Move to the other side and repeat the steps.

Area #2: The Gluteal Band:
The melt can be applied the same way as done in the previous area with the cervical (neck) portion of the rhomboids. The gluteal band refers to the blue and yellow band indicated muscle in figure 4A. The blue muscle is the accessory gluteal illustrated in 4B. The yellow muscle is the deep gluteal (profundus) illustrated in 4C.

When You Might Use This Stroke In This Area:
- When asymmetrical (uneven) movement is noted in the pelvis. You may notice less hip motion in the hip joint (less flexion). May appear as back discomfort or hip issue. While standing, the affected side may appear higher and forward.
- If this muscle is restricted (shortened), the horse may track towards the midline or step shorter in cranial phase of the limb (stepping forward).
- Quick turns or rollbacks may be difficult. Lateral movement may be restricted.

Step by step:
- Stand facing the hind end.
- Very similar to the rhomboid melt. Place the palms of your hand cupping the bottom edge of the entire band towards its bottom center. Start the move with your arms close to your body.
- Continue the same process as the rhomboid melt.
- If possible, hold for at least 90 seconds.
- Let the horse relax and then try again.
- Move to the other side and repeat the steps.

By Debranne Pattillo, MEBW, CEO Equinology INC. Copyright © 1995 Debranne Pattillo and Equinology, INC, All rights reserved. All Equinology, INC illustrations, article, text and photos are protected by copyright laws.

About the Author: Debranne Pattillo is the CEO of Equinology INC, an educational company with sister affiliates around the globe offering over 40 courses taught by leading veterinarians and specialists. Debranne is the chief instructor for the Equine Foundation Massage Certification Massage, Equine Massage Advanced Techniques Level One, the Progressive Equine Anatomy and Equine Stretching courses. More information can be found at Equinology.

Debranne lives in Gualala, CA and holds a long time practice as a Master Equine Body Worker in the neighboring 5 counties. She spends over 300 days a year on the road tending to horses and teaching.