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Learn how to become an equine massage therapist. Research the education, training information, and experience required for starting a career in equine massage therapy.
Equine massage therapists use their hands to put pressure on a horse's skin and muscles in ways that can relax the animal, decrease pain and stress, and assist in injury rehabilitation. In many cases, massage therapists travel to met clients where they live or work; they may also meet clients in healthcare settings.
Many people in this field are self-employed, and working fewer than full-time hours is common. Massage therapists may also have irregular schedules. Time spent in between client appointments can be filled with accounting, marketing and other business-related tasks.
|Degree Level||Requirements vary between states; some states have no educational requirements, while others require a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine|
|Degree Field||Equine massage therapy, equine studies, veterinary medicine|
|Certification||After completing courses and/or a training program, students can apply for voluntary certification through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage|
|Key Skills||Judgment and decision making, critical thinking, physical strength and dexterity, coordination and stamina; knowledge of equine anatomy|
|Salary (2014)||$37,180 per year (Median salary for massage therapists)|
Sources: International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork, The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage, Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centenary College
Since there are several different routes a person can take to pursue a career in equine massage, students should decide what type of education matches their personal and professional goals. Some therapists obtain massage education through equine or large animal massage certificate programs; others may take a massage course through an associate's or bachelor's degree program in equine science. Veterinarians may also choose to specialize their training by practicing equine massage.
Only a few schools offer courses or programs in equine massage therapy. However, some programs in equine science offer massage therapy courses. These courses and programs usually provide students with knowledge of equine anatomy and physiology with special attention paid to muscles and other tissues. Students also learn about body movement through courses in biomechanics and kinesiology.
Hands-on training will allow students to learn how to physically manipulate muscles, ligaments, and joints in ways that promote relaxation and healing. Veterinary programs don't typically cover equine massage, but they do include coursework in broad topics, like large animal anatomy, clinical diagnosis, animal physiology, and medical management.
Many practicing equine massage therapists advertise their services through a personal website that describes what they do and how to make therapy appointments. Certain animal massage therapy schools allow graduates to list their websites and contact information on the school's webpage to help gather potential clients. These same people may also list their services through animal massage organizations.