Horse Massage Therapist: Salary, Job Duties and Career Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a horse massage therapist. Get an overview of the requirements as well as details about education, training and job responsibilities to determine if this is the career for you.

Horse massage therapists possess a solid understanding of equine neurology and anatomy, and are usually self-employed. Some of these therapists earn an undergraduate degree in a program related to equine studies and take coursework focused on massage therapy, while others complete a one-year certificate program dedicated to equine massage therapy.

Essential Information

Horse massage therapists, known professionally as equine massage therapists, use massage techniques to enhance recovery, relieve stress, and improve performance in horses. Individuals interested in the growing field of horse care can seek training opportunities at private equine facilities. They may also pursue an undergraduate degree in equine studies or a related field that includes coursework in massage therapy. Optional certification is available through the International Federation of Registered Equine Massage Therapists (IFREMT).

Required Education Completion of an equine massage therapy program or an undergraduate degree program in equine studies including coursework in massage therapy
Other Requirements Voluntary registration available through the International Federation of Registered Equine Massage Therapists
Job Growth (2014-2024) 11% for all animal care and service workers*
Typical Hourly Wage (2011) $100 or more per one hour session**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Northwest School of Animal Massage

Salary for Equine Massage Therapists

Equine massage therapists are generally self-employed contractors, according to colleges that offer this type of equine training. The Northwest School of Animal Massage in 2011 published a press release stating that therapists treating high-level equine clientele may charge well above $100 an hour for their services. Some therapists also charge by the treatment and might offer a weekly rate. Wages vary according to such factors as location and the experience level of the therapist.

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Equine Massage Therapist Job Duties

An equine massage therapist performs various therapeutic treatments based on the type of injury or problem a horse is experiencing. He or she must have extensive knowledge of equine anatomy and neurology, as well as the horse skeletal system. Horse massage therapists are trained to analyze a horse's condition and apply the proper therapeutic massage treatment. Overall, the goal of equine massage is to promote circulation, relieve tension, improve muscle tone, and relax muscle spasms.

Training for Equine Massage Therapists

Equine massage therapy is a relatively new field and is yet to be regulated. Voluntary certification is offered by the International Federation of Equine Massage Therapists and requires attendance at an approved equine massage therapy school and passage of an examination.

In general, no specific background in equine studies or massage therapy is required for admittance to an equine massage therapy school. Training programs typically center on learning massage techniques combined with general coursework in equine science. Courses include equine health and injury prevention.

Programs offering a certificate of completion generally take less than a year to complete. A few schools that offer these programs have transfer agreements with colleges, offering individuals to transfer credits that can be applied toward an associate's or bachelor's degree in some area of animal studies.

Some degree programs in equine science include coursework in equine massage therapy. Other colleges offer a bachelor's degree in animal science with specialized coursework in equine science. Courses in equine science related to equine massage therapy training might include anatomy, physiology, rehabilitative science, and stable management.

Equine Massage Therapist Career Outlook

According to various schools offering equine massage therapy training, many veterinarians, trainers, breeders, and horse owners are encouraging the development of coursework in this area because they see the benefits it provides. Job placement information from schools and colleges lists graduates working at rehabilitation centers, ranches, horse farms, and in private practice.

A horse massage therapist works on horses in order to ease spasms, reduce stress, tone muscles, improve circulation, or alleviate injuries. Training and degree programs related to equine science and massage therapy are available in this field, as is optional certification. Job opportunities for animal care and service workers are predicted to grow faster than average through 2024, and are available on farms, ranches, and at rehabilitation centers.

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