Equine Physical Therapy Certification and Degree Program Information

An equine physical therapist tends to horses with musculoskeletal injuries and other physical conditions. There are no schools offering specialized degree programs in equine physical therapy, but some schools do offer certificate programs in the field.

Essential Information

Certificate programs in equine physical therapy, rehabilitation or massage are rare, but they do exist. They are created for veterinarians, veterinarian technicians, physical therapist assistants or physical therapists who are interested in working with ill, injured or even lame horses. Such programs vary in duration and focus on teaching students about the principles and practical applications of equine rehabilitative techniques. Techniques include neuromuscular skeletal stimulation, therapeutic exercises, acupuncture techniques, shockwave therapy, chiropractic techniques and more. Students learn through classroom lectures, case studies, and hands-on experiences.

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Certificate in Equine Physical Therapy

Certificate programs in equine physical therapy and rehabilitation are designed as postgraduate courses. Courses are designed to build upon a health practitioner's existing foundation of knowledge in the veterinary or physical therapy field. The courses included within an equine physical therapy certificate program provide students with the basic principles of equine health as well as the practical application of equine physical therapy and massage techniques. Examples include:

  • Equine therapeutic modalities
  • Basic equine anatomy
  • Gait analysis
  • Conditions of tendons and ligaments
  • Nervous and muscular systems
  • Physiologic healing process

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report specific findings for equine physical therapists, but it did report that veterinarians were expected to see 9% growth between 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that veterinarians earned a median yearly wage of $88,490 in May of 2015.

Licensure and Certification

All veterinarians, including those working exclusively with horses, are required to gain licensure. They must do so by completing a DVM degree program as well as sitting for the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners also offers additional certification for veterinarians looking to work in an equine practice. Veterinary assistants are not required to become certified or licensed.

An equine physical therapist may come from a background in physical therapy. Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants are required to gain licensure by completing an accredited program and passing the National Physical Therapy examination in the majority of states.

Certificates in equine physical therapy train veterinarians and technicians in topics such as equine therapeutic modalities, anatomy, and gait analysis. These programs prepare graduates to work with injured horses.

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