Levels of Touch


The amount of pressure (or non-pressure) we use is the most important, and often the most difficult part for humans, of staying underneath the horse’s bracing response.


When asked “How much pressure are you using?”, rather than say, “Well, I’m using exactly 2.43 pounds per square inch over an area of 6.4 square inches for a period of exactly…” and so on, I decided to use terms that we can remember and relate to.



Air gap is just that. At the most, you will barely be touching the tips of the hair with your fingers. At the least, you can be as much as 2, 4, 6, or even 12 inches away from the horse with your hand. Air Gap is the level we use with the Bladder Meridian.


Egg Yolk. Crack an egg on a plate. Rest your finger tip on the yolk. Apply only enough pressure to indent the yolk, but not enough to break it. That is Egg Yolk pressure. If the yolk breaks you are using too much pressure. I would recommend stirring it up, adding a little salt, pepper and some freshly-grated Parmesan, and scrambling it lightly in olive oil. Air Gap and Egg Yolk are examples of what we might use on the Hind End Points.


Grape. Put a grape (a ripe grape) on the plate. Push on it with your finger. Register in your mind how little pressure it takes to break the grape. That is too much. Use only enough to flatten it a little bit, without breaking the skin. That is Grape pressure. There are many things you can make with the grape if it breaks, one of which you may drink with your scrambled egg. Grape is an example of what we might use in Lateral Cervical Flexion.


Lemon. Now we are getting into a little more pressure. Put a ripe (soft) lemon on the table. Slowly and gradually apply enough pressure to flatten it without breaking the skin. Lemon is an example of what we might be able to build up to when massaging the poll during the Head Down Technique. And remember life is like a lemon; if it breaks, you’re pushing too hard.


Lime. Do the same with a hard, green lime. Slowly and gradually apply enough pressure to flatten it without breaking the skin. This is how we might apply Lime Pressure on certain areas and with certain Techniques, if the horse is not bracing against it.


And how do you know the horse is bracing, either internally or externally, against any level of pressure? By following the horse’s Responses – Visual and Palpable.


Learn more in the Beyond Horse Massage Book and DVD