By Bianca Rootman
Painting the different muscle layers on a horse was a concept that I was first introduced to whilst
attending my equine body worker course. The idea was that we would learn the exact location, as
well as the origin and insertion points, of each individual muscle found in the superficial, middle, and
deep layers of the horse. The technique turned out to be a really awesome way of knowing exactly
where each muscle is by first finding it via palpation, and then secondly by having to outline and
paint it. Using all the different colours also made a big difference whilst studying.
I was asked to do a few painted horses presentation for the public as many people have no idea
where what muscle is or even what the different muscles do. The events that I have done thus far
have turned out to be a huge success as people really enjoy seeing a horse with all the different
muscles painted on and learning what muscle does what and what different muscles are used in the
different disciplines in the equestrian world. I also take these opportunities to educate people on
how important it is to condition and train their equine athletes to engage and activate the correct
muscle groups. Many people come to me after the event and ask about certain things they were not
aware of before seeing a painted horse, such as why a certain muscle may be over or
underdeveloped in their horse.
So not only did learning how to paint muscles on a horse help me to locate, palpate, assess, and
treat each individual muscle on the horse, it also gave me the opportunity to educate people who
may have no knowledge of equine anatomy or physiology and to help them better understand how
to train their horses in order to develop the correct muscles to achieve optimum performance and to
decrease the chances of injuries. The technique is visually stimulating and engaging, and most
people find it absolutely fascinating to watch a painted horse trot, canter, and jump. There is nothing
more amazing then seeing each individual muscle work as the horse is asked to do different things,
and that is what I found the most interesting.