How to become an equine massage therapist

There are no legal requirements for a person to claim to be an equine massage therapist. Another interesting fact is that no standard certification currently exists to be an equine massage therapist. Likewise no governing bodies, either nationally or internationally, control equine massages. The International Association of Animal Massage & Bodywork does a good job at keeping the public informed. They have no power over anyone except their members. A person interested in performing equine massages does not have to belong to any organization to do business as a therapist. In essence it means that anyone can be an equine massage therapist with no training or governing body to make sure they do a good job.

Despite not having any national standards some states do have laws that could impact the practice of conducting equine massages. Some states my require a veterinarian to either supervise the massage procedures, or prescribe them prior to the horse being massaged. Violating those state laws could get the practitioner into serious legal trouble. The exception for most states does allow therapists to legally practice if they work directly for a horse operation or they own the horse. Laws like that could limit the potential income of the practitioner.

There can be a huge difference in equine massage therapy schools. Some schools may last only a few days, while others could last years that lead to a degree program. Degree programs may include more treatment therapies and that will also give the practitioner more treatment options. More training can lead to greater income potential. Again state laws my restrict practicing some or all of those treatments unless they under a veterinarian’s supervision. Many large horse operations will only hire well trained therapists.

Last but certainly not least is that the practitioner must have good horse handling skills. The owner may be paying you, but the horse is really the client. A good practitioner must know how to handle horses with injuries or horses that may not want to be handled quietly. All horses can be dangerous not only to the handlers but also to themselves as well in confined areas. It’s important to know as much as possible about horses in general to bring a holistic approach to the skill of massage therapy. The more a person knows, the farther they will go. A massage therapist must also be physically strong and have endurance to work on large animals for hours at a time.

Massage therapy in the right hands can be a rewarding skill that benefits lots of horses that are in need of a helping hand. Massage therapy can be a great foundation to learning alternative veterinary treatments. A good massage therapist can be in high demand in numerous equine disciplines.

More information about horses and horse barns is found at Classic Equine.