What is the Emmett Technique?

At Healthy Hooves we believe in a holistic approach to horse care. As well as farrier services, we offer muscle relief using the Emmett Technique. This neuromuscular release technique was developed here in Australia by Ross Emmett and is now practiced in 26 countries throughout the world. Emmett therapy is becoming an increasingly popular method of improving quality of life in not only humans, but horses and other animals as well.

Emmett Therapy: Pain-free muscle release

Emmett Therapy: Pain-free muscle release

How Does It Work?

The Emmett Technique is a gentle muscle release therapy which involves applying light pressure to specific points along the body. This deceivingly simple approach allows for the quick and painless release of contracted muscle groups, stimulation of 'deactivated' muscles, increases in blood circulation and improved lymphatic drainage. Even the release of large, deep muscles groups is possible for Emmett practitioners, something which may not necessarily be possible with alternative therapies. Studies are still underway to confirm the exact mechanism of action, however it is theorised that the efficacy of Emmett results from the specific light touch sequences stimulating the body's neuromuscular junctions - adjusting neurotransmitter release and thereby directly influencing muscle tone.



What Should I Expect?

The results of Emmett therapy are often immediate and observable. Sessions take approximately 40 minutes and begin with fast and accurate assessments of the body's imbalances. At Healthy Hooves, we don't usually start treatments until your horse has been trimmed or shod so that we can ensure we are starting with balanced feet. Assessment often involves observing how your horse stands, how your horse moves as well as palpation of the body. This is followed by methodical stimulation of 'problem areas' to rebalance the body. Each time a muscle group is treated, the horse is taken for a quick walk to 'lock in' the change and prevent pain-associated muscle memory. This also allows for reassessment of movement so that treatment can be effective as possible. It is encouraged that horses be given 2 days to fully process the muscle changes after their treatments, especially if it is not a regular occurrence for them. Stretches and strengthening exercises customised to your horse's needs are also provided if necessary.


Before and after a treatment: Notice overall relaxation in body language and facial expression.

Before and after a treatment: Notice overall relaxation in body language and facial expression.

How Do I Know If It's Working?

For those not familiar with the Emmett Technique, the treatment itself may look quite obscure. Rest assured, your horse will let you know in a variety of ways that he/she is processing the neuromuscular stimulation. Things to look  out for during your horse's session:

  • Change in expression

  • Licking and chewing

  • Yawning

  • Sighing/nickering

  • Tummy gurgles

  • Swaying

  • Head bobbing

  • Glazed over eyes

  • Re-centring of the body/adjusting themselves to stand square

  • Dozing-off

  • Muscle twitches or 'popping' of veins at site of stimulation

Some horses will show all of these signs during their treatments, others may only show one or two. You may notice that some horses don't start processing until they are returned to their paddocks or stables. 

Relaxation, improved flexibility and increased range of movement are all usually observable immediately after treatment (and continue to improve over the following days). 



Will My Horse Benefit from Emmett Therapy?

Short answer. Yes. 

All horses, all ages, breeds and disciplines will benefit from Emmett Therapy in one way or another. 

Improve performance by:

  • Relieving pain or discomfort

  • Improving balance, agility and range of movement

  • Building strength by allowing muscle groups to work to their full potential

  • Increasing circulation and lymphatic drainage

  • Calming nerves and settling horses in new environments

  • Improving emotional wellbeing

Decrease recovery times by:

  • Accelerating removal of lactic acid and lymphatic drainage after exercise

  • Improving blood circulation around sites of injury

  • Preventing chronic contraction of muscles around sites of injury

Improve quality of life in pleasure/elderly horses by:

  • Increasing circulation, particularly in the legs

  • Maintaining healthy muscle tone and range of movement

We have found this technique particularly helpful in a number of situations including:

  • Calming nervous/impatient horses when teaching, e.g. shoeing unbroken horses

  • Tying-up

  • Stifle lock

  • Stimulating circulation in lower legs to encourage healthier hoof growth

  • Behavioural issues resulting from poll tension

  • Release of jaw tension after dental treatments

Before and after: After the muscles are released, the spine straightens and the horse finds standing square a lot easier.

Before and after: After the muscles are released, the spine straightens and the horse finds standing square a lot easier.

Elderly horses love their Emmett sessions!

Elderly horses love their Emmett sessions!