Equine Structural Integration

What is Equine Structural Integration/Soma?

Equine Soma work is very similar to human Soma work.  We are working with the fascia of the horse, which is the structural component of the body that surrounds all organs, nerves, muscles, bones.  In an ideal world, the fascia is relatively uniform in its density and moisture and layers of tissue slide over each other easily.  But in the real world, an ill fitting saddle, an imbalanced rider, a shoeing problem or a trauma or injury can create a thickening and adherence in the fascia and create aberrations in movement and pain.  The more stressed the body becomes under these conditions, the more likely the horse will develop compensation patterns for moving and behavior problems like bucking, ear pinning, bolting, biting, etc.

In a series of 5 sessions, we will address the body in a sequence that listens what the body needs.   This unraveling of old patterns and re-membering of a more optimal pattern can be a profound change for the horse and rider relationship.

Equine Structural Integration Sessions

This series is based on the work of Jim Pascucci, (Advanced Rolfer and founder of www.animalsi.com) and my work as a Soma practitioner and structural integrator.  At the heart of the series is the importance of working with the body as a whole rather than just a bunch of parts.  Jim developed this series based on Dr. Ida Rolf’s 10-Session series for people but modified the series based on the structural issues of the equine quadruped.  

Session 1

Evaluation of the horses gait and posture.  Working on a superficial level on the entire body.

Session 2

The focus of this session is on the shoulders, neck and torso.  We move into the deeper structures of the front end in this session.  Because the focus is heavily on the front end in this session, it must but followed, within a week or so, by session 3, to keep the horse in balance.

Session 3

The focus of this session is release of the deeper structures of the back, hind end, hips, pelvis and rear legs. 

Session 4
The focus of this session is the head, neck and mouth.

Session 5
In this session, we integrate all of the territory we have released in the previous four sessions. The horse will continue to integrate, by moving, playing and riding,  for months after this session.


Somassage for Horses

Somassage, just like for people, is a way to have regular bodywork after the series that is continuing in the same structural integration mindset of the series. 

In Equine Somassage, the focus is on balancing the entire body in one session.  Here we are reminding the body of its optimal posture and movement that it claimed during the series work..  During Somassage, we can revisit trouble spots and the body tends to “remember” the corrections and release much more easily. 

Somassage can also be a wonderful stand alone treatment.  Even as a one-time treatment Somassage can be a great advantage to a horse's performance, health, and well-being.


Jennifer Lovejoy, Portland, OR


Certified Soma Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Equine Massage Therapist (LAMP), KRI Certified Yoga Teacher, Centered Riding Instructor, Level 1

"...And I whispered to the horse; Trust no man in whose eye you don't see yourself reflected as an equal."

Don Vincenzo Giobbe, c. 1700

 Soma for Equestrians: Human and Horse

There is great benefit for the human and horse partnership when both partners receive Soma work.  The relationship between horse and owner has the opportunity to deepen during this time and the partnership often moves from workable to truly harmonious.  Human and equine partners often reflect each others issues.  Working through these things as a team is a very powerful and exciting process.


Horse owners report that their horses move better, have improved work ethic and are generally happier, more athletic, and more playful.

Other reported benefits include:

-increased breath capacity

-smoother gaits

-decrease in anxiety and stress

-decrease or elimination of pain

-greater range of motion through back and neck and limbs

-more ease to move into collection

-improved behavior

-improved posture

-significant reduction in injuries

-improved athletic performance

-faster recovery from stress (shows, traveling, moving, etc)

-faster recovery from injuries

-improvement of a variety of emotional issues

-greater fluidity and grace of movement 

In equine sessions, the horse is engaged with movement and stretching from the inside out.  Awareness activities are employed to remind the horse of body awareness.  These are helpful to assist his exploration of new range of movement and to re-train the mind from self -protective patterns.

 Other Equine Modalities      offered by Jennifer:

Sometimes structural integration work isn't what is on the agenda for an individual horse.   In this case there are other modalities that are lovely and beneficial in many ways for your horse.  

These include:

Equine Acupressure

Equine Massage

Equine Energywork

Please contact Jennifer to see which modality might be right for your horse.