May 01, 2020 3 min read

 As an Equine Laser Therapist, I find that many horses have issues with back soreness. And their owners very often have no idea that their horses are dealing with chronic pain. If pain anywhere in the body is overlooked, the horse will be at risk for many other types of injuries due to compensation! Although it only rarely causes outright lameness, back soreness is a common cause of behavioral issues, such as: 

  • Resistance to the bridle
  • Reluctance to engage hind legs
  • Tension/nerves
  • Spooking or Bolting
  • Rearing or Bucking
  • Resistance to saddling/girthiness
  • Head tossing
  • Heaviness in the hand
  • Problems picking up or holding a particular canter lead
  • Reluctance to go forward
  • Moving with short, choppy strides
  • Leaning or bracing against one or both reins
  • General decline in performance or attitude

Soreness can be anywhere from right underneath the saddle (which is often a saddle fitting issue), to the lumbar region of the back (which is often due to conformation and muscle weakness in that area, or from carrying tension under saddle), to the lumbosacral junction and the sacroiliac joint (which can be from injury, weakness, or poor riding.)

Treating Back Pain in Horses

Pain in any of these areas can easily become a vicious circle… with the structures becoming more and more weak and vulnerable as the horse protects them. As Equine Veterinarian Jenny Johnson says, "All the performance horses I work with, despite being in different disciplines, push from behind. They must be able to engage their hind end. If a horse has back pain, he is unable to do this very effectively; the pain makes him reluctant to fully use his body." 

Regular use of therapies such as Laser Therapy, Acupuncture, and Massage can be highly effective in keeping your horse’s back, as well as other areas, comfortable. However, these therapeutic modalities are not always easily accessible to everyone. Some may live in remote areas where they are simply not readily offered. Others may find that financial limitations make it difficult to afford regular treatments for their horses.

For those of you who may fall into either of those categories, I’ve discovered a great alternative that has been proven to be exceptionally effective! The StripHair Gentle Groomer

striphair for horses

Massage Therapy with The Gentle Groomer

I purchased this ingenious device on the recommendation of a colleague and was immediately impressed. The StripHair Gentle Groomer definitely lived up to the hype as an outstanding grooming tool but the therapeutic benefits it provided are what really caught my attention. When gliding StripHair over the horse's body I could clearly feel the muscles relaxing and even identified a hidden sore spot. I can easily massage all the large muscle groups as well as tendons and ligaments of the leg to reduce swelling. I was also able to effectively increase the blood flow to the coronary band (essential for healthy hoof growth).

Why is massage so beneficial? Massage increases circulation, blood flow, and nutrients. As with humane athletes, when muscles are warmed prior to work, the horse will have improved mobility and reduced risk of injury. After work, massage will aid muscle recovery. For soft tissue injury, massage can reduce swelling, relieve soreness, and speed healing.

Striphair thermal imaging increase circulation

When using StripHair over target areas, I can effectively stimulate the horses’ muscles and increase circulation to a far greater degree than simply using my hand as seen in the photos below (increased blood flow shown in white). 

striphair thermal imagery massage therapy

Just watch the enormous increase in circulation with each pass of The StripHair Gentle Groomer shown here with Digatherm® Thermal Imaging:

Therapeutic Grooming Routine

When it comes to my daily grooming routine, I’m equally impressed with The StripHair Gentle Groomer. It is such a well designed and versatile tool! It removes loose hair effortlessly without bristles or blade and somehow cleans right down to the skin - so no need for a curry comb! I also appreciate how sanitary and easy to clean it is. I've yet to try StripHair at bath time but it looks to do a very good job there too.

For daily grooming and the overall body maintenance of your high-performance horse or retired senior, I highly recommend The StripHair Gentle Groomer to keep your horse in great shape, comfortable and happy.

Click here to learn more about The StripHair Gentle Groomer.



Lesley Stevenson
Equine Laser Therapist & Eventing Coach