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Welcome to the Equestrian Soft Tissue Association's webpage (formerly 'The Equine Sports Massage Association').  We are the leading national organisation for Equestrian Soft Tissue Therapists and this website hopes to give you more information on the many benefits, research and practitioners in the UK and internationally. 

We are proud partner with The Sports Massage Association (The SMA), a partnership born in 2020 through both Chairs (Dee So'oialo and Paul Medlicott) seeing not only the similarity and opportunities for the associations to combine, but the need for more clarity in the industry and opportunities for members. This partnership was as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the need for collaboration so individually and collectively, our aims can be seen.

The equestrian industry has undergone and continues to change, both in regard to sport and equine therapy. Our founder, Mary Bromiley MBE always said, “just sit quietly and wait, the mud will settle and then you can see.” The development of ESMA to ESTA reflects the change in the industry and better positions us to deliver our mission statement with clear goals for us, our members and the wider equestrian community. Another reflection of the evolvement of the equestrian industry is our updated entry requirements for members, which we hope will make ESTA membership more accessible for all.

Thank you for visiting our page,

Dee So'oialo (née Holdsworth)

ESTA Chair

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OUR MISSION

To ensure a client receives services from a highly and fully trained, qualified Equestrian Soft Tissue Therapist.

To maintain a high standard of practice and code of conduct by all its members.

Collectively The ESTA and The SMA wish to

  • Enhance services and benefits to members through the pooling of resources and contacts.
  • Increased credibility for the broader soft tissue therapy profession through providing a unified voice in discussions with Government, regulators, sporting bodies, insurers etc.
  • Enhanced professionalism in the delivery of Professional Association services through dedicated staff.
  • Create inter organisational opportunities/CPD for both associations and its members.
  • Increased spectrum of ideas through broader understandings and individual expertise in both the human and equine soft tissue industry. 
ESTA Committee


WHAT IS EQUINE SOFT TISSUE THERAPY

Equine soft tissue therapy is the therapeutic application of professional soft tissue techniques applied to the equine athlete. A thorough understanding of anatomy and the interaction of fascia, bones, joints and muscles are the basis of the proven physical and mental therapy that is the art of soft tissue therapy. 

A soft tissue therapist looks at the horse as a whole and attempts to consider all possible causes and effects of any tension while interpreting a horses reactions and expressions.

BENEFITS OF EQUINE SOFT TISSUE THERAPY 

All horses can benefit from equine soft tissue treatment. This can range from the treasured family pony, to the olympic athlete. The last 10 years has shown how much the equestrian industry is changing, highlighting the need to think of both the horse and rider as athletes that need regular maintenance to work at optimal performance. 

  • Increasing and improving circulation
  • Enhance muscle tone
  • Relax muscle spasm
  • Prevent and relieve adhesions
  • Increase the range of movement
  • Massage can benefit the well being of the animal, release tension and aid mental relaxation. In the event of an Injury, massage is of great benefit to aid recovery and prevent atrophy (wasting) of muscles.

DOES YOUR HORSE DO OR SHOW SIGNS OF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

  • Uneven muscle development
  • Lack or excessive muscle development in areas
  • Lack of enthusiasm to work
  • Decreased performance
  • Stiffer to one rein
  • Show lateral stiffness
  • Reluctant to canter on one lead
  • Hollow backed
  • Head shaking
  • Bucking
  • Lack of poll flexion and bend
  • Have an uneven stride length
  • Holding the tail to one side

All of the above can be signs of pain and discomfort and should be investigated by a qualified ESTA member. 

SOFT TISSUE THERAPY AS PART OF YOUR HORSE'S CARE ROUTINE

Soft tissue therapy can be used during training programs, pre and post competition or to support muscle health. Regular treatment maintains strength and suppleness of the horse both during work and for convalescing horses. After physical exertion, soft tissue therapy supports the recovery process of the tissues, helping to ensure soft tissue is working effectively and reducing the likeliness of pain.

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM SOFT TISSUE THERAPY ?

  • Horse
  • Owner / Rider  
  • Vet  
  • Farrier  
  • Trainer  


SOFT TISSUE THERAPY ALSO HELPS TO PREVENT INJURY

More than 60% of the horse’s body weight is muscle. Changes in performance, attitude or lameness are usually the result of small soft tissue injuries, which if left unaltered, could cause more serious issues long term. Small muscle injuries can take up to 90 days to become apparent, and usually in that time, the horse's performance and attitude decreases and lameness occurs. Equine Soft Tissue Therapists work alongside vets to support the fascia and muscles of the horse to help establish potential injury causes in the early stages and improve overall performance.

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