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Enhancing Equine Performance and Well-Being with Kinesiology Taping

Updated: Dec 15, 2023


performance horse running with cowgirl at national barrel horse Association race

In the world of equestrian sports and equine care, the pursuit of excellence is a journey that demands unwavering dedication to the health, happiness, and performance of our horses. As horse enthusiasts, trainers, and caretakers, we share a common goal: to ensure that our equine partners thrive both physically and mentally, enabling them to shine in the arena and beyond.


Enter the realm of Kinesiology Taping (KT) – an innovative and dynamic approach that has taken the equine world by storm. Originally developed for human athletes, Kinesiology Taping has found a promising application in the world of horses, revolutionizing the way we approach their well-being and potential. This therapeutic technique involves the precise application of elastic adhesive tape on the horse's skin, strategically designed to provide support, alleviate discomfort, and enhance overall performance.


horse with kinesiology tape on his back for support

In our quest to explore new horizons of equine care, this blog embarks on a journey to uncover the manifold benefits of Kinesiology Taping for horses. We'll delve into the science behind this technique, unravel its multifaceted advantages, and shed light on its integration with traditional equine practices. From enhancing muscular stability and relieving pain to improving circulation and preventing injuries, Kinesiology Taping offers a tapestry of possibilities that can elevate our equine partners to new heights.


As we navigate this exploration, we'll also emphasize the importance of proper application and collaboration with equine professionals. While Kinesiology Taping holds immense potential, its success lies in the hands of those who understand the delicate balance between innovation and responsible care.


Join us in this captivating expedition as we uncover the art and science of Kinesiology Taping for horses. Together, we'll unlock the doors to a world where enhanced well-being and optimized performance converge, paving the way for a brighter and healthier future for our horses.


Understanding Kinesiology Taping (KT) and Its Scientific Mechanisms

Imagine a technique that can offer muscular support, alleviate discomfort, enhance circulation, and even contribute to injury prevention—all without hindering the horse's natural movement. This is the promise of KT taping for horses. The purpose of this blog is to embark on a comprehensive exploration of these benefits. From preventing injuries to optimizing performance, we'll delve into how KT taping can be a game-changer in the equine world.


Kinesiology Taping (KT) might appear as simple strips of colorful tape, but its impact on equine well-being is far from superficial. This technique, with its roots in human sports therapy, has made its way into the equestrian world, promising to elevate equine care to new dimensions. Let's delve into the scientific intricacies of KT, understanding how it works and why it's creating waves in the realm of horse health.


What is Kinesiology tape?

rolls of kinesiology tape

At its core, KT involves the application of elastic adhesive tape onto the horse's coat, following specific patterns. KT Tape is made from a thin, breathable, and elastic material that adheres to the coat without causing irritation or restricting movement. It typically has an acrylic adhesive on one side and is available in various colors and patterns. It's designed to mimic the properties of skin, thereby allowing it to move and stretch with the body. The tape's unique properties enable it to be used in a range of ways to address different issues, from pain relief to injury prevention.


Lightweight and Non-Restrictive Nature of KT Tape

One of the standout features of KT tape lies in its lightweight and non-restrictive composition. Unlike traditional bandages or wraps that can sometimes hinder natural movement, KT tape offers a balance between support and freedom. The tape's elastic properties allow it to conform to the contours of the horse's body without causing discomfort or impeding range of motion. This non-restrictive quality is particularly advantageous for equine athletes whose performance relies on fluid and precise movements.


Longevity of Tape Application, Allowing Horses to Benefit for Several Days

KT tape's durability sets it apart as a practical solution in equine care. Once applied correctly, the tape can remain in place for multiple days, even in the face of the horse's rigorous activities. This longevity means that horses can benefit from the tape's support and therapeutic properties over extended periods without the need for frequent reapplication. This aspect not only minimizes disruptions but also contributes to a more efficient and streamlined care routine.


Practical Advantages of Kinesiology Tape in Training, Competition, and Extended Periods of Use

horse with KT on while horseback riding for training support
Photo credit: Sidelines Magazine

KT tape's lightweight and long-lasting nature translates into a myriad of practical advantages across various scenarios. In training, it serves as a consistent form of support, aiding in maintaining proper movement mechanics and promoting muscular health. During competitions, it can provide that extra layer of stability and comfort that enhances a horse's performance. The tape's capacity to remain effective for several days is particularly valuable for events or situations where immediate access to equine care might be limited, ensuring the horse's well-being is prioritized even when faced with logistical challenges.


The symbiotic blend of minimal restrictions and longevity sets KT tape apart as a reliable and versatile tool in the realm of equine care. The tape's ability to provide unobtrusive support while enduring the demands of training, competition, and extended use underscores its role as an innovative asset for those dedicated to the well-being and success of their equine partners.


Customized Taping Techniques for Specific Horse Anatomies or Issues

Equine anatomy varies widely, and horses may face individual challenges. KT taping's customization potential shines here. Equine professionals can employ specific taping techniques to address particular anatomical nuances or address specific issues. Whether it's providing additional stability to weak joints or supporting muscles prone to strain, the tape's application can be fine-tuned to cater to the horse's distinct requirements.


Enhanced Circulation Through Micro-Lifting

kinesiology tape lifting the coat on the horse to lift the skin to enhance circulation
You can see the tape lifting the hair at the ends of the blue tape.

One of the remarkable aspects of KT lies in its ability to gently lift the horse's hair and skin upon application. This seemingly minor action can have a substantial impact on circulation. By slightly lifting the skin, the tape creates micro-spaces between the layers, encouraging better blood and lymphatic flow. Improved circulation means enhanced nutrient and oxygen delivery to the underlying muscles and tissues, aiding in their recovery and overall well-being. KT can also reduce swelling and inflammation in the area the tape is applied due to its micro-lifting abilities.


Stabilizing Joints and Alleviating Pain

horse with kinesiology tape on sacrum to support the hips

Horses, like any athletes, put immense strain on their joints. KT's application plays a crucial role in providing joint stability. The tape's elasticity, when strategically applied, offers gentle support to joints, reducing the risk of excessive movement that could lead to strains or injuries. Moreover, this support contributes to the alleviation of pain by reducing pressure on sensitive areas and allowing the horse to move more comfortably.


Optimizing Movement While Preventing Injury

KT's unique feature of allowing movement while providing support is invaluable in equine care. Horses need to move freely, and restricting their motion is counterproductive. KT strikes the perfect balance—supporting muscles and joints without limiting natural movement. This property is especially useful when it comes to injury prevention. The tape's support can help horses with vulnerabilities or predispositions to certain injuries, allowing them to train and compete with reduced risk.


Kinesiology Taping Benefits

Kinesiology Taping's effects go beyond the visible. While the tape itself might appear as mere lines on the horse's coat, its impact on circulation, joint stability, and pain relief is profound. The marriage of scientific principles and practical application in KT makes it an innovative addition to equine care. As we explore further, we'll uncover the more ways this technique can be customized to address various equine needs, making it an exciting tool in the arsenal of horse enthusiasts, trainers, and caretakers alike.


History of Kinesiology Tape

The history of kinesiology tape traces back to the 1970s and is closely tied to the development of Kinesio Tape, a brand of elastic therapeutic tape. Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist, is credited with pioneering the concept and introducing kinesiology taping as we know it today.


Kinesiology tape being applied to a human leg

1970s - The Birth of Kinesio Tape: Dr. Kenzo Kase sought to create a tape that could provide support and aid in the healing process without restricting movement. Inspired by the idea of using elastic qualities to mimic the skin's elasticity, he developed the first Kinesio Tape. The tape was designed to lift the skin and create space, facilitating improved blood and lymphatic flow. Dr. Kase believed that this approach could alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance the body's natural healing processes.


1980s - Popularization and Medical Recognition: In the 1980s, Dr. Kase's Kinesio Tape gained recognition in the medical community and beyond. Athletes in various sports started using the tape to manage injuries and enhance performance. The tape's distinctive colorful design became associated with the world of sports and rehabilitation.


1990s - Continued Growth and Application Expansion: Throughout the 1990s, the use of Kinesio Tape continued to grow, not only in sports but also in clinical and therapeutic settings. Its potential for aiding recovery from injuries and promoting better movement gained attention from medical professionals, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers.

person with kinesiology tape on knee for joint support before yoga

2000s - Global Influence and Adaptation: The 2000s marked the period when Kinesio Tape's influence spread globally. The tape gained popularity across continents and was used in diverse fields, including sports, physiotherapy, and pain management. Different brands and variations of elastic therapeutic tape emerged in response to the growing demand for this type of product.


Present - Widely Accepted Therapeutic Tool: Today, kinesiology tape is a widely accepted and utilized therapeutic tool in both human and animal care. It has become a staple in the world of sports and rehabilitation, offering benefits such as pain relief, support, enhanced circulation, and injury prevention. Beyond human athletes, kinesiology tape has also made its way into veterinary medicine, particularly in equine care.


Equine Application - Extension to Horse Care: The successful application of kinesiology tape in human sports therapy led to its adaptation for use in equine care. Horse owners, trainers, and equine professionals recognized the potential benefits of KT tape in enhancing horse health, performance, and overall well-being. Just as in human athletes, KT tape for horses is applied with careful consideration of anatomy, movement patterns, and specific needs.


In summary, the history of kinesiology tape is a journey of innovation and adaptation, driven by the desire to provide effective support, pain relief, and improved movement without restricting the body's natural abilities. From its origins in the 1970s to its widespread use in equine care today, kinesiology tape has evolved into a versatile tool that continues to shape the landscape of both human and animal therapies.


Kinesiology Tape Enhances Proprioception

Proprioception, often referred to as "body awareness" or "position sense," is a crucial sensory ability that allows an individual, in this case, a horse, to perceive and understand the position and movement of its body parts in relation to one another and the surrounding environment. It plays a significant role in movement coordination, balance, and overall motor control.


When it comes to equine performance, proprioception is of utmost importance. Horses rely heavily on their proprioceptive abilities to navigate various terrains, execute complex movements, and maintain their balance, especially during activities such as jumping, turning, and galloping. Proprioceptive feedback helps horses adjust their movements in real-time to avoid stumbling, falling, or tripping.


One of the remarkable ways KT taping contributes to performance enhancement is by boosting proprioception. The tape's tactile feedback stimulates the horse's sensory receptors, increasing its awareness of body position and movement. This heightened proprioceptive input translates to improved coordination, balance, and precision during intricate maneuvers. Horses become more attuned to their bodies, resulting in smoother transitions and more controlled movements. Here's how:

horse with kinesiology tape on while barrel racing to prevent injuries
  • Enhanced Sensory Feedback: The application of KT Tape on specific areas of the horse's body can create a tactile stimulus that enhances sensory feedback. This heightened awareness of the body's position and movement can lead to improved coordination, especially during intricate maneuvers.

  • Subtle Support and Feedback: KT Tape's gentle support, without restricting movement, provides horses with subtle tactile cues. This can help horses better understand the position of their limbs and adjust their movements accordingly, reducing the risk of missteps or incorrect footing.

  • Optimized Muscle Function: KT Tape's support of muscles can contribute to their proper functioning. When muscles are well-supported and functioning optimally, they provide accurate signals to the nervous system, aiding in precise movement execution.

  • Postural Adjustments: Horses can make minor adjustments in their posture based on the proprioceptive feedback they receive. KT Tape's application can contribute to a horse's ability to make these adjustments more effectively, resulting in smoother transitions and movements.

In disciplines that require precision and coordination, such as dressage or show jumping, enhanced proprioception can make a notable difference in performance. While scientific research on the exact impact of KT Tape on proprioception in horses is still ongoing, many horse owners, trainers, and equine professionals report positive anecdotal experiences with the use of KT Tape to enhance proprioceptive feedback.


It's important to recognize that while KT Tape can potentially improve proprioception, it should be part of a comprehensive approach to equine care that includes proper training, conditioning, veterinary care, and collaboration with equine professionals. When used responsibly and with knowledge, KT Tape can contribute to supporting a horse's natural abilities and helping them perform at their best.


Kinesiology Tape Provides Support to Horse Muscles

KT taping offers a unique avenue for enhancing muscular support in horses. When applied strategically, the tape gently adheres to the coat, creating a supportive framework that acts almost as an extension of the muscles themselves. This additional layer of support serves to reinforce muscle structure, aiding in their proper engagement during movement. The tape's elasticity allows it to contract and expand with the muscles, facilitating their function without hindrance.


horse back with kinesiology tape to support back muscles and spine

Muscle fatigue and the risk of strain or injury are concerns that all horse owners and trainers grapple with. KT taping provides a means to mitigate these challenges. By offering external support to muscles, the tape helps distribute mechanical stress more evenly, reducing the load on specific muscle groups. This, in turn, can lead to decreased muscle fatigue and a lower likelihood of overuse injuries.


The advantages of KT taping extend beyond muscular support to encompass joint stability and movement dynamics. When properly applied, the tape can bolster joint structures, acting as a supplementary support system. This improved stability can enhance a horse's overall movement quality and precision. Moreover, because KT taping doesn't inhibit natural movement, it can aid in optimizing a horse's range of motion, which is crucial for performance across various equestrian disciplines.


Kinesiology Tape's Role in Alleviating Pain and Discomfort in Horses

Pain management is a central aspect of equine care, and KT taping offers a non-invasive tool in this realm. The tape's application gently lifts the skin, creating a space that encourages improved circulation. This enhanced blood flow carries essential nutrients to the area, while also facilitating the removal of waste products. Additionally, the tactile stimulation from the tape can activate the body's natural pain-relieving mechanisms, potentially providing relief to discomforted areas.


Reduction of Inflammation Through Improved Lymphatic Drainage

horse with kinesiology tape around his eye to reduce inflammation

Inflammation is a natural response to injury or stress, but its prolonged presence can impede healing. KT taping has the potential to assist in managing inflammation by promoting better lymphatic drainage. The lifting effect of the tape encourages lymphatic fluid movement, aiding in the removal of excess fluid and waste products from the inflamed area. This can contribute to a faster resolution of inflammation and support the healing process.


Benefits for Horses with Conditions Like Arthritis or Joint Inflammation

Horses dealing with conditions such as arthritis or joint inflammation stand to gain from KT taping's multifaceted benefits. The tape's support can alleviate pressure on inflamed joints, providing relief from pain. Additionally, improved circulation and lymphatic drainage can aid in reducing the severity of these conditions and potentially enhancing the horse's comfort and quality of life.


Kinesiology Tape Can Enhance Blood Circulation

KT taping introduces a dynamic element to equine care by promoting improved blood circulation. The tape's application creates a lifting effect on the skin, encouraging a micro-gap between the layers. This subtle elevation facilitates enhanced blood flow, as blood vessels experience reduced compression and can transport oxygen and nutrients more effectively. As a result, tissues receive a fresh supply of oxygenated blood, fostering a healthier environment for cellular function.


horse with leg taped with KT for blood circulation
Photo credit: Equine Body Flow

With improved circulation comes the advantage of heightened nutrient and oxygen delivery to muscles and tissues. When horses engage in rigorous physical activity, muscle fibers require a continuous supply of nutrients to sustain performance. KT taping can aid in ensuring these essentials reach their intended destinations promptly, supporting muscle function and overall vitality.


The amplified circulation facilitated by KT taping doesn't merely benefit performance but also recovery. After intense workouts or competitions, muscles undergo stress and micro-damage. Increased blood flow from KT taping can aid in expediting the removal of metabolic waste products and delivering reparative nutrients. This can lead to a quicker recovery process, as well as a reduction in muscle soreness and stiffness.


Kinesiology Tape Can Be Used Proactively to Prevent Injuries

Preventing injuries is a cornerstone of equine care, and KT taping offers a proactive approach in this regard. By strategically applying tape to specific muscle groups or joints, KT provides an extra layer of support. This support can aid in maintaining proper movement mechanics, reducing the risk of overuse or traumatic injuries, and contributing to the overall durability of the horse's musculoskeletal system.


Support for Horses Recovering from Injuries by Providing Gentle

Movement

horse leg supported by kinesiology tape

KT taping's versatility shines when it comes to aiding horses during the recovery phase. Injured horses often need to continue moving to prevent muscle atrophy and maintain joint health. The tape's gentle support allows for controlled movement without exacerbating the injury. This controlled movement can help horses recover more effectively, all while minimizing the risk of further harm.


KT Supports Equine Injuries

Specific injuries, such as tendon strains, are particularly challenging to manage in horses due to their nature and the horse's size. KT taping can play a role in these scenarios by offering support to the affected area. When applied correctly, the tape can aid in stabilizing tendons and preventing excessive strain during movement. This type of support can complement traditional treatments and contribute to a comprehensive approach to healing.


Kinesiology Tape Integration with Traditional Equine Care

KT taping seamlessly integrates into the fabric of traditional equine care, offering a complementary layer of support to existing therapies. Whether it's massage, chiropractic, acupressure, red light therapy, PEMF or physiotherapy, KT taping harmonizes with these modalities to amplify their effects. The tape's ability to provide prolonged, gentle support in between sessions can prolong the benefits of other therapies, contributing to a more holistic approach to equine health and well-being.


Collaboration with Veterinarians, Trainers, and Other Professionals

horse with KT tape on back to support the hips and joints

The collaborative aspect of equine care takes center stage when it comes to KT taping. The most effective outcomes emerge when a multidisciplinary team is involved. Collaboration between veterinarians, trainers, equine therapists, and other professionals ensures that the tape's application aligns with the horse's unique needs and goals. Expert input from various fields helps tailor the tape's usage, ensuring that it complements the overall care plan.


Combined Approach for Holistic Horse Care

KT taping's integration with traditional equine care epitomizes a holistic approach that considers the horse's physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This holistic outlook recognizes that a horse is more than its individual parts; it's a complex entity that thrives when all aspects of care align. The combined approach fuses cutting-edge innovation with time-tested methodologies, ultimately nurturing horses that are not only high-performing but also genuinely content and thriving.


Kinesiology Tape and Acupressure Meridians

kinesiology tape being used for equine proprioception
Photo credit: Equine Chronicle

Using Kinesiology Tape (KT) for taping acupressure meridian lines is a novel application that combines the principles of traditional acupressure with the therapeutic benefits of KT. Acupressure meridian lines are pathways in the body through which vital energy, known as "qi," flows. By applying KT along these meridian lines, practitioners aim to stimulate specific acupoints and promote balance and well-being. This approach marries the modern technology of KT with ancient Eastern practices. Here's how it works:


Applying KT along acupressure meridian lines involves placing the tape over the pathway of the meridian, covering specific acupoints. The tape's elasticity allows it to gently stimulate these points as the body moves. The lifting effect of the tape on the skin can help enhance the flow of energy along the meridian lines and activate acupoints.


The gentle stimulation of acupoints through KT can have a balancing effect on the body's energy flow. This approach aligns with the principles of traditional acupressure, which seeks to restore harmony and alleviate imbalances in the body's energy systems. By combining the tactile stimulation of the tape with the acupressure points, practitioners aim to promote relaxation, reduce tension, and support overall well-being.


Importance of Proper Application by Trained Individuals

KT tape being applied by a practitioner on a horse
Photo credit: Eventing Nation

While KT taping offers an array of benefits, its effectiveness hinges on proper application. Equine professionals with training in taping techniques are best suited to ensure correct placement, tension, and application methods. This expertise minimizes the risk of unintended consequences and maximizes the tape's positive impact on the horse's well-being.


Every horse is unique, and their responses to KT taping can vary. Regular monitoring is essential to gauge how a horse is benefiting from the tape and to identify any potential issues. Equine professionals can guide adjustments in taping techniques if necessary, ensuring that the tape's benefits are optimized and that any adverse reactions are addressed promptly.


The showcased photos depict taping techniques executed by a certified practitioner. These images are not intended as instructional guides for taping horses. If you are interested in applying tape to your horses, we recommend enrolling in a taping course to ensure proper and effective techniques.


Our Favorite Equine KT Brands

Choosing the right type of KT tape for equine use is crucial. There are various options available, each with specific characteristics. Equine professionals can guide horse owners and trainers in selecting tape that suits the horse's requirements, taking into account factors such as the horse's discipline, skin sensitivity, and the intended purpose of taping.


Equine Tape is different from traditional tape that's used on people because it has better stick and durability for horse hair and movement. Here are a couple brands we love:

  • Hestaband - They have cotton, satin, and lymph tapes designed to stick on horses without extra adhesive spray. Their tape comes in several widths to choose from.

  • Vetkin Tape - Their tape comes in multiple widths and colors. Different widths are great when taping different areas and styles.

  • Equi-Tape - They have a couple widths of tape to choose from plus, they have courses for your to learn how to properly tape.


Conclusion on our Kinesiology Taping Discussion

As we conclude our journey, we underscore the overarching theme that guides us—the pursuit of enhanced equine health, performance, and overall well-being. KT taping combines the benefits of scientific understanding with practical application. By integrating KT taping into traditional equine care practices, we step into a world where innovation merges harmoniously with time-honored wisdom, resulting in happier, healthier, and higher-performing equine partners.


happy horse with kinesiology tape on back

KT taping emerges as a multifaceted tool that offers an array of advantages for our horses. From providing enhanced muscular support and reducing pain to improving circulation, aiding in injury prevention and management, and ultimately elevating performance, the tape's capabilities are vast and promising. Its lightweight, non-restrictive nature, combined with longevity, harmonizes seamlessly with the demands of equine life, be it in training, competition, or periods of rest.


To horse owners, trainers, and equine professionals, we extend an invitation to delve deeper into the world of KT taping. The insights shared here offer a glimpse into the possibilities that this innovative technique brings to the equine realm. Embrace the opportunity to enrich your equine care toolkit with a tool that can amplify the well-being and performance of the horses you care for.


And here, we're thrilled to share that Poll to Pastern, committed to holistic equine care, offers KT taping as an integral addition to our sessions. As equine enthusiasts and professionals, we believe in the transformative potential of KT taping. Our dedication to your horse's well-being drives us to provide this cutting-edge solution, customized to your horse's unique needs and goals. With KT taping as an add-on to our sessions, we're excited to unlock new avenues of equine care, allowing your cherished companion to thrive like never before.

woman riding her horse in the arena before KT is applied


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