Do You Know Your Horse's Pain Points?

Do You Know Your Horse’s Pain Points?

Lorrie Bracaloni

Occasionally you’ll come across a horse in pain that just seems unexplainable. Caring owners have come to me feeling frustrated that their horse is still “off,” after trying every traditional and holistic health option they could think of.

There is always a reason that a horse is sore. Mainly it has to do with how his muscles support his skeletal system. Muscles contract and release. When muscles tighten and cannot achieve a full release, they will remain tense and will shorten over time. This puts strain on the surrounding areas.

Because tightening and spasms are an extension of the normal contraction process, these types of problems do not show up on x-rays or standard testing procedures. The horse’s problem can be a muscle misalignment.

Every move the horse makes produces stress upon a specific point. All muscles pull, so all skeletal motion is performed in this manner too. Tight muscles can lead to spasms, knots, muscle misalignment and blocked energy. When this happens you can start to see:

  • Choppy strides
  • Loss of impulsion
  • Jump refusals
  • Back soreness and hollowing
  • Resistance to lateral flexion and bending
  • Girthing problems
  • Biting and other “bad behaviors”
  • The horse being off and on “for no reason”
  • Improper tracking forward, back, or laterally

Covering up minor problems most often ends up creating major ones.

Muscles are arranged in pairs of opposites, and muscles have two functions, to contract and release. In order for a muscle to release it must not have opposition and be able to stretch out. Muscle fibers attach to bone, so when muscles remain in a contracted state and are not released properly, this is where your horse’s pain points come in. When the pain points are released, then the muscles stop pulling on the bones, and the horse’s natural balance can return. The pain can cease, and the muscle fibers can return to normal.

Did you know that 60% of your horse’s body weight is skeletal muscle? Horses’ muscles need oxygen and glucose from ingested food stuff. Oxygen is carried to the muscles by the circulation of blood. Any excess degree of muscle contraction or spasms will interfere with the free flow of oxygen into the muscle tissue and the outflow of toxins, which will have an effect on the horse’s performance.

You can check your horse’s pain points before you ride him or when you are grooming him. By checking them you can prevent many problems before they develop. As Jack Meagher, Sports Therapist for people and equines alike said, “Remember any injury you can prevent is money in the bank!”

You may find that releasing your horse’s pain points:

  • Increases athletic performance and stamina
  • Improves Muscle Tone
  • Improves suppleness and responsiveness
  • Enhances mental and emotional well-being

When working on your horse, make sure it is not feeding time, and that he is not agitated or stressed.

There are books you can buy that show you stretches and body exercises to help your horse along and keeping him balanced. Just keep in mind that whatever method you choose to apply to your horse, allow yourself time to practice and be patient. Your will love you for it.

Withers check

A Quick Check For Bucking,Rearing, Difficult Lead Changes To Learn Where Your Horse Is In Pain

Go to your horse and put your hand opened over his withers and push in at the same time both sides, if he flinches , his withers are out and need to be released.

Withers checkSo with both hands fingers pointing up, placed your hands under your horse’s girth line where you will feel a groove, look up and lift using your finger nails so the horse lifts his back.

Hold for at least 30 seconds, breathe in then let out let go. Recheck for filches in the whiter area.



Stifle checkStifle Check Point

Where my fingers are push about 5 lbs of pressure sliding back from the last rib to the pelvis if horse buckles the stifles are stressed, (we know the stifles are located below on front back leg, this is the acupressure point for finding the stifle stress point).



Stifle checkTo release simple back your horse up 10 steps with his head tucked under him, best to back quickly. Then recheck Stifle Point.





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About the author

Lorrie Bracaloni

I became an equine naturopath health practitioner ten years ago. I was fortunate enough to study under some of the best holistic equine teachers in the United States. I love to educate horse owners on health and nutrition and have been for over ten years on the importance of natural, unprocessed, chemical-free nutrition for horses. My unique Equine Nutrition protocols and Herbal Remedies have helped hundreds of horses start down the road to excellent health and soundness.


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