What are the benefits of Equine Shiatsu?

This traditional form of Japanese hands-on bodywork uses acupressure, joint manipulation, fascial work and stretching techniques help to the horse to re-balance and find a place of ease. It is a completely non-invasive, gentle and effective therapy, and the horse normally finds Shiatsu deeply relaxing.

Stress and how it is at the root of most issues 

So many of the problems that affect horses can be said to originate with stress, either physical or emotional, and this is an area where Shiatsu can be hugely effective, as it is less of a mechanical approach and more one of working with each horse as an individual who may have a stack of different issues that may not make sense from a Western perspective, but makes clear sense from an Oriental one. Often the primary issue when treated resolves within a handful of sessions, but after that we are “unwrapping the onion” in terms of layers of energetic and fascial compression , and resolving old patterns of tension in the body.

In clinical trials, acupressure has been shown to relieve stress, and as such are useful in the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Sports injuries respond well to Shiatsu. It is particularly helpful after injuries, for instance during periods of box rest and post-operative recovery.
  • Arthritis Through stretches and specially chosen acupressure points, your horse can become more comfortable, mobile and active.
  • Stroppy mares respond well to Shiatsu generally, as it can help them feel less stressed and therefore less likely to be over-sensitive when handled.
  • Nervy, anxious horses can be calmed and relaxed by Shiatsu treatment.
  • Problems with stiffness, one-sidedness, cold backs and lack of elasticity can be significantly helped with regular treatment.
  • Respiratory problems such as COPD and allergies can be helped and calmed.
  • As a complement to Chiropractic or Osteopathic treatment, by relaxing and toning the back muscles, Shiatsu can make spinal adjustments easier, more effective, and longer-lasting.

Although Shiatsu is not a substitute for veterinary care, it is often a welcome complementary treatment. It works well with Equine Cranio-Sacral therapy and Kate will often use both treatment protocols for her clients.

What happens in an Equine Shiatsu session?

Before your horse receives Shiatsu, it is necessary to contact your vet in order to ensure that they are happy for your horse to receive treatment.

Normally your first session will last about 90 minutes, during which a full physical and holistic assessment of your horse will be carried out. After this, the horse will be assessed for energetic imbalances and blockages, asymmetries and stiffness, and will receive the first treatment. Generally, subsequent sessions are about 45 mins duration plus around 10 minutes for catch up and recommendations going forward. Shiatsu sessions are normally quiet and peaceful, allowing the horse to relax deeply, therefore a quiet environment is preferable. Treatments are tailored to the individual and will be different for each client and each session.

How many treatments will your horse need?

Many clients report seeing significant benefits after 2-3 treatments, but sometimes a longer course of sessions is needed to gain maximum benefit. Horses in competitive environments, polo ponies, hunters or other animals with demanding workloads can benefit immensely from the support of Shiatsu treatment on a monthly or six-weekly basis. Veteran horses also do well with regular sessions to help keep them as straight and mobile as possible. Regular sessions for all horses can be of real help and are highly recommended – this follows the Oriental approach of maintaining and supporting health to keep your horse comfortable, flexible and relaxed.

Shiatsu for horse owners and riders

A head, neck, shoulder and back treatment for owners/riders can be received at your yard if there is somewhere quiet to set up the Shiatsu Chair. Half-hour sessions are £38 if they are on the same day as your horse.


Initial sessions will be 90 minutes to allow time for a full client history to be taken; follow up appointments are 60 minutes. Milage of 48p is charged for round trips greater than 20 miles from St Albans. Initial treatment of 90 minutes is £110, follow up treatments of 60 minutes are £68, reduced to £63 for two or more horses at the same yard. The full fee will normally be charged in the event of missed appointments or late cancellations with less than 24 hours notice.

Gift certificates are available throughout the year.

Contact us to find out more.

examining horses ear
colour image of Kate flexing a horses leg
feeling a horses fetlock