Don’t underestimate the value of massage

I am a client at the Nicky Snazell’s Pain Relief Clinic (, and without Chartered Physiotherapist David Paling, I I’m not sure how I’d keep doing the physical job I do as an ACPAT and RAMP registered Chartered Physiotherapist.


The Pain Relief Clinic sends out a regular newsletter, and I wanted to share with you one of their recent articles, titled “Don’t underestimate the value of massage”.


“In the UK we tend to dismiss massage as nothing other than an indulgent treat, with little therapeutic value. This, however, is completely wrong and there are a lot of studies from all over the world which prove otherwise. The truth is that appropriate massage for your condition can greatly benefit to you.


You might find it interesting, for example, that in Germany, GPs will regularly prescribe a course of massage rather than prescribe drugs. Why would they do that, if not for good reason?


Here are some of the known benefits of massage:


  • It eases muscle pain and improves circulation
  • It reduces stress
  • It counteracts the postural stress resulting from sitting at a desk all day
  • It relieves headaches and migraines
  • It helps prevent future injury
  • It improves sleep
  • It reduces blood pressure
  • It strengthens the immune system
  • It helps anxiety and depression


Given enough space there are plenty more benefits to list. But the evidence is very clear: regular massage has many benefits it’s time to readjust your view on massage and recognise just how much it you could help you.”


If you’re in Staffordshire, you can find out more about the Pain Relief Clinic here:


If you’d like to apply these theories to your horse, consider our 5* book and DVD ‘Horse Massage for Horse Owners’  and contact your local Equine Massage Therapist through the Equine Sports Massage Association 

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Are you flapping?

By Sue Palmer

A recent study ( looked into rider stability on saddles with flaps (i.e. what we think of as ‘normal’ English saddles) versus saddles without flaps (EQ saddles  It was a small study size (5 riders), but the research was headed by the well respected Dr Hilary Clayton.  The study was funded by EQ Saddles, but it’s stated on the study that they had no say in study design, data collection or data analysis, and that none of the researchers received salary support for the study.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I recommend these saddles – I haven’t personally come across them, so I wouldn’t be able to.  I’m also not saying that I disagree with them – but if they are supporting ongoing research, then I’m certainly interested in knowing more.  Evidence comes not only in the form of published, peer reviewed studies, but also through experience and knowledge.  Peer reviewed, published studies are certainly a good starting point though!

I’m also not saying that I support or don’t support treeless saddles – I think it’s very dependent on the saddle and the horse, and personally I’d recommend working with a saddler you trust and respect and taking their advice.  I’m a Chartered Physiotherapist, not a saddler.  So I can tell you if your horse is sore through his back, and if this might possibly be caused by poor saddle fit, but I certainly don’t feel qualified to tell you which saddle will fit your horse, or how to adjust your saddle fit.

I’m also unsure of any evidence as to whether or not a more secure seat is beneficial, but on the whole, I’d think yes, it is.  Certainly it feels better as a rider if you are able to sit more still.  From a behavioural / training point of view, I think it’s really important to be still in the saddle in order to be able to give subtle signals that the horse can distinguish from the ‘white noise’ of the general movement of your body as you balance.  I do, however, believe that there needs to be a degree of movement of the saddle on the horse, because if exactly the same amount of pressure is put through exactly the same area for a prolonged period of time (as would happen if the saddle didn’t move at all), this would lead to muscle atrophy beneath that entire area.  The movement need only be small, but capillaries must have the pressure removed intermittently in order to refill, and therefore to maintain healthy functioning of the muscle.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a saddle fitter or a Master Saddler, I’m a Chartered Physiotherapist.  This study interests me, saddle design interests me, the treed / treeless debate interests me.  I don’t feel qualified to advise as saddle fit is not my area of expertise. But I do want to remain open minded and to share new ideas and information, and this study fits squarely into that field for me.  I hope it’s of interest to you as well, and I wish EQ saddles the best with their ongoing research.


Thermology uncovered…continued

How Thermology Is Influencing The Veterinary Industry And The Horse Owner’s Approach To Lameness Investigation – part 2

by guest blogger Sophie Gent, continuing on from our previous blog…


There are many benefits to using Thermology to assist diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. As the technology identifies inflammatory and neurological processes one of its main clinical benefits is when it is used to non-invasively locate the potential source of lameness. Horses can be imaged in a short space of time without the need for sedation. Numerous injuries, diseases and conditions can be identified and monitored. Services are now available through many veterinary practices and if referred, costs can be covered by insurance. The technology is also cost effective, a full body assessment with dynamic testing and veterinary interpretation is available for as little as £395.

Physiological imaging is a powerful tool when used correctly in specialist areas of medicine or as an adjunctive imaging modality. If owners source the service from their local vet then it is likely that the technology will have a positive influence on the investigation and ultimately diagnosis.

Joint Related Conditions – How Can Thermography Assist?

Thermology detects the inflammatory processes that are produced when physiological changes start to occur in a joint, the technology can assist veterinary surgeons in the identification of both early stage and chronic joint disease. Degenerative changes are often the cause of lameness but structural imaging may not contribute to the investigation in the early stages, it can be challenging for vets to encourage further or more expensive diagnostics particularly when x-ray and ultrasound have been performed to no avail.  As Thermology is non-invasive, sedation free and offers affordable function testing it can support the use of further diagnostics and earlier treatment. Using the technology to review joints which are difficult to image with x-ray or ultrasound has proven beneficial to many vets and has helped warrant targeted investigations.  Assisting in isolating stifle pathology has been a reason many practices have utilised our service.

To learn more about thermology, SyncThermology run free CPD’s and workshops around the UK.  Go to for more information.