Equine massage: which is more important?

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Elliemare
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Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Elliemare » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:28 pm

Which do you think is more important in being a good equine massage therapist - A strong background and education in massage (being a human massage therapist before persuing animal massage) OR Having a lot of experience in the horse world, showing, competing, riding at an advanced level, owning and managing barns etc.

I know that a good knowledge of equine safety is very important before persuing equine massage, but do you think horse people expect an equine massage therapist to be an advanced equestrian, or just really good at providing equine massage therapy? Which do you think is more important?

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Taoist » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:58 pm

That's a bit of a conundrum I think. I don't know much (anything, really) about equine massage, but I'm pretty familiar with horses. Not showing or competing, mostly farm work, but as I'm trying to view this from the mind of "horse people", I think a strong knowledge base will get you the trust of the owners. A horse won't know or really care how many hours you've completed in equine massage, but they'll trust you if you at least have some experience being around them and working with them and that's not something you can gain by reading a book, so I think both would benefit you the most.

As I said, I'm not familiar with the field of equine massage so my opinions could be wrong, but this is what I think.
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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by GreenDragonfly » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:55 pm

I think that having more experience around horses and for SURE horse people is a definite plus. While any training is going to benefit you, only real time spent in the horse world can get you ready for that environment. Horse people can be... funny. :grin: of course horses themselves have attitude, especially the warm bloods and I imagine more owners of thoroughbreds are going to be seeking massage for their horses. Sounds like a lot of fun though!
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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by JLWmassage » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:07 am

As a former trainer know the mechanics of what makes a horse go over a jump for example has helped me a lot as far as equine massage goes plus I know what the rider needs to do also and that's an added bounus. And knowing how a horse is trained helps me talk to trainers

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Elliemare » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:16 am

JLWmassage wrote:As a former trainer know the mechanics of what makes a horse go over a jump for example has helped me a lot as far as equine massage goes plus I know what the rider needs to do also and that's an added bounus. And knowing how a horse is trained helps me talk to trainers
That's what I was thinking. I don't think I necessarily need to have a wall of ribbons of my own to impress anyone. After all my horse and I used to see a trainer who no longer rides at all anymore, and my farrier and vet aren't accomplished in the show ring and that doesn't bother me or my horse. I'm just trying to think the way horse people would think. I certainly know a lot of people who work with horses who no longer ride, or never did due to health issues or injury or just fear of riding!

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Elliemare » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:23 am

Elliemare wrote:
JLWmassage wrote:As a former trainer know the mechanics of what makes a horse go over a jump for example has helped me a lot as far as equine massage goes plus I know what the rider needs to do also and that's an added bounus. And knowing how a horse is trained helps me talk to trainers
That's what I was thinking. I don't think I necessarily need to have a wall of ribbons of my own to impress anyone. After all my horse and I used to see a trainer who no longer rides at all anymore, and my farrier and vet aren't accomplished in the show ring and that doesn't bother me or my horse. I'm just trying to think the way horse people would think. I certainly know a lot of people who work with horses who no longer ride, or never did due to health issues or injury or just fear of riding

I do have a throughbred mare who has taught me a lot (not that my gelding hasn't) but she is very, very sensitive. She was really hard to read at first and can be a bit of a drama queen but I can read her mind now and she can read mine! I really have come to appreciate the more sensitve horses, even if it makes them seem tempermental at times. If anything is out of place in my mare's world, she will let me know!

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Sole_Purpose » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:42 pm

Elliemare wrote:Which do you think is more important in being a good equine massage therapist - A strong background and education in massage (being a human massage therapist before persuing animal massage) OR Having a lot of experience in the horse world, showing, competing, riding at an advanced level, owning and managing barns etc.
Oh I love this question!

I personally feel that it's in the best interest of the profession and animal for the practitioner to have a background in human massage or other bodywork prior to embarking on equine bodywork professionally. Mainly because the human massage programs are longer, you get more practice giving and receiving, as well as feedback from another human regarding pressure and touch. Receiving (during school) allows us to be in touch first hand with how massage and other bodywork effects the mind and body and its movement.

Knowledge of: horse anatomy & physiology, horse behavior & body language (individually between horses & humans and other horses/animals, group dynamics), horse care, health issues of the horse in general and specific to individual horse, best living environment of the horse so it can thrive, horse movement/biomechanics, safety around the horse, and the purpose of the individual horse (sport/competitive, pet/family member, retired, etc) is a must. Volunteering at a barn or shelter would give an inexperienced person great exposure, if they didn't grow up around horses.

I grew up with horses, but riding is just not my thing. Although I'm formally trained in equine sports and myofascial therapy, my horse clients are not competitive athletes. If I had someone call that was competing, I'd refer them out to a practitioner more suited to the required knowledge and skill set...more qualified in other words. It would be very difficult - for me - to really help a competitive horse not ever being in the saddle. I think it's imperative to know ones limits.

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Elliemare » Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:08 pm

Kindred Spirits wrote:
Elliemare wrote:Which do you think is more important in being a good equine massage therapist - A strong background and education in massage (being a human massage therapist before persuing animal massage) OR Having a lot of experience in the horse world, showing, competing, riding at an advanced level, owning and managing barns etc.
Oh I love this question!

I personally feel that it's in the best interest of the profession and animal for the practitioner to have a background in human massage or other bodywork prior to embarking on equine bodywork professionally. Mainly because the human massage programs are longer, you get more practice giving and receiving, as well as feedback from another human regarding pressure and touch. Receiving (during school) allows us to be in touch first hand with how massage and other bodywork effects the mind and body and its movement.

Knowledge of: horse anatomy & physiology, horse behavior & body language (individually between horses & humans and other horses/animals, group dynamics), horse care, health issues of the horse in general and specific to individual horse, best living environment of the horse so it can thrive, horse movement/biomechanics, safety around the horse, and the purpose of the individual horse (sport/competitive, pet/family member, retired, etc) is a must. Volunteering at a barn or shelter would give an inexperienced person great exposure, if they didn't grow up around horses.

I grew up with horses, but riding is just not my thing. Although I'm formally trained in equine sports and myofascial therapy, my horse clients are not competitive athletes. If I had someone call that was competing, I'd refer them out to a practitioner more suited to the required knowledge and skill set...more qualified in other words. It would be very difficult - for me - to really help a competitive horse not ever being in the saddle. I think it's imperative to know ones limits.



Wow kindred spirits, that is great that you work on horses but are not a rider yourself! I do agree that I think its important that an equine or animal massage therapist have a strong background in human massage. I'm only considering programs that require a background in human massage before accepting equine massage students.

I just completed an equine anatomy course and I do ride, I just don't show and compete (at this time, maybe in the future :D ) I have my own farm and horses and grew up with horses, but got away from the horse world for a long period of time, but had always intended to return.

I really appreciate the feedback, its been very helpful!

I'd love to know more about equine MFR? I just had my first real MFR session today and it has me thinking about the equine aspects of it.

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Sole_Purpose » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:26 am

Not all, but most of my equine clients over the years have been retired, injured, in chronic pain or in a shelter due to abuse and neglect. A few dressage horses here and there, as well as some eventing and jumpers.
Elliemare wrote:I'd love to know more about equine MFR? I just had my first real MFR session today and it has me thinking about the equine aspects of it.
I took the first module of Joseph Freeman's (human Structural Integrator) program. You can check out his website for more info on him and his program: Equine Natural Movement.

I studied equine sports therapy with Jo-Ann Wilson: Wilson Meagher Sports Therapy. Jo-Ann is now an approved CEU provider for the NCBTMB, too!

I received NCBTMB CEU credit for Joseph's program also, as a non-approved provider.

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Elliemare » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:11 pm

Kindred Spirits wrote:I studied equine sports therapy with Jo-Ann Wilson: Wilson Meagher Sports Therapy. Jo-Ann is now an approved CEU provider for the NCBTMB, too!

I received NCBTMB CEU credit for Joseph's program also, as a non-approved provider.
Did I mention that I was planning on training with Jo-Ann this spring? At least I hope so. She came highly recommended and I'm really looking forward to training with her!

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Sole_Purpose » Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:15 pm

Elliemare wrote:
Kindred Spirits wrote:I studied equine sports therapy with Jo-Ann Wilson: Wilson Meagher Sports Therapy. Jo-Ann is now an approved CEU provider for the NCBTMB, too!

I received NCBTMB CEU credit for Joseph's program also, as a non-approved provider.
Did I mention that I was planning on training with Jo-Ann this spring? At least I hope so. She came highly recommended and I'm really looking forward to training with her!
Wow, now that is just WEIRD! LOL ...love it! :banana:

Jo-Ann is a wealth of knowledge. I hope you do get to train with her.

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by pueppi » Sun May 01, 2011 10:42 am

I hope I am not side-tracking this thread too much, but I was looking at the Jo-Ann Wilson (Wilson Meagher Sports Therapy) site which appears to offer 3 days of CEU's for the certification - and then comparing it to http://www.equinology.com which is something in the "hundred's" range.

Obviously there are pros and cons regarding these differences, but does anyone feel there is a specific need for so many hours (equinology) regarding Equine Training? Or, is it really only needed with special
high-income show horses?

I'm not convinced that some of that isn't just to make things "look good". More training may be better, but is it necessary?

Or, are you getting a sub-standard massage as a horse with what may be considered "entry level" equine massage. I get the feeling it actually isn't sub-standard, but some places are trying to make it look that way.

However, since I know nothing about equine massage, other than the fact that I owned a few pleasure horses that I massaged as a child, I could be drastically wrong.

If you aren't comfortable discussing it in open forum, please feel free to PM me. Thanks!
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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Timedess » Sun May 01, 2011 2:52 pm

pueppi wrote:I hope I am not side-tracking this thread too much, but I was looking at the Jo-Ann Wilson (Wilson Meagher Sports Therapy) site which appears to offer 3 days of CEU's for the certification - and then comparing it to http://www.equinology.com which is something in the "hundred's" range.

Obviously there are pros and cons regarding these differences, but does anyone feel there is a specific need for so many hours (equinology) regarding Equine Training? Or, is it really only needed with special
high-income show horses?

I'm not convinced that some of that isn't just to make things "look good". More training may be better, but is it necessary?

Or, are you getting a sub-standard massage as a horse with what may be considered "entry level" equine massage. I get the feeling it actually isn't sub-standard, but some places are trying to make it look that way.

However, since I know nothing about equine massage, other than the fact that I owned a few pleasure horses that I massaged as a child, I could be drastically wrong.

If you aren't comfortable discussing it in open forum, please feel free to PM me. Thanks!
Interesting thoughts there, pueppi (as usual).

I can tell you that my DH gives the same treatment to backyard pets that he does to high-dollar show animals and racehorses. Just as with humans, it all depends on what the horse needs.

His equine sports massage course took 2 5-day weeks: first 5 days for "basic" and the second set for "advanced". He learned more in those ten days than they taught in the 300-hour "people massage school" he later went to. I think much of what you're asking (does length of the course matter?) depends on who is teaching, their teaching style, and their ultimate goals for their students. Passing with flying colors on pieces of paper (written tests) would ensure that the student knows "the book-learning part", but would not *necessarily* bring about total knowledge/mastery in the field. DH's teacher required that his students perform at least 200 free massages before charging. Of course, that is pretty much "on the honor system", but as DH got out in the real world, where he had to figure things out on his own, things began to really cement for him. Some people don't learn as well with oodles and oodles of time spent in a classroom-- some learn better in "the classroom of life". I know that this model of teaching is not "right" for everyone. but it is not "wrong" for everyone, either.

Bottom line is, I guess, that each student should carefully examine the proposed scope and sequence, and as much as possible learn how the teacher teaches.

Now, as far as the original question goes (how did I miss this earlier? I dunno!):

My hubby went into equine massage school with NO knowledge of massage whatsoever, but with over ten years' experience handling horses under extreme conditions (he was a jockey). His teachers had the students practice on each other before they went to practice on the horses. Your personal massage experience will do you well; your personal horse-handling experience will do you well also. The school Dh went to required no previous massage experience, but "X" amount of documentable, verifiable horse-handling experience in order to attend. With references. Reason being, you can learn to massage faster/easier than you can learn to handle a wild/crazy/hurting horse. Learning how to handle horses WHILE learning to massage is not very easy.

But, I DO NOT think you have to have high-level show/barn-managing/professional horse experience in order to work on horses. As long as you "speak horse"-- are comfortable with them, know how to handle them under a variety of circumstances, and don't easily freak out when THEY freak out, you should be good to go!
~Renee

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Elliemare » Mon May 02, 2011 9:17 am

I've been searching and researching equine massage schools and training courses and connected with equine therapists all over the country as to what they thought of their equine massage training. I got many recommendations of equine massage schools (and I have taken some home-study pre-requisite courses through Equinology). Jo-Anne Wilson came highly recommended by everyone I spoke with. Some had attended longer courses than Jo-Anne's and still stated that they learned much more from three days with Jo-Anne than at any other school. So I guess it really does depend upon the instructor. I was going to attend a lengthier training course because it "looked good" on paper, but after Jo-Anne came so highly recommended and she is so well respected, I decided to train with her. I feel very fortunate too, since she is a very busy lady!

I've been searching for a method that I really respect as well. A lot of equine massage techniques seem like a general rub-down of the horse and I wouldn't feel comfortable charging someone money to do something they could accomplish with a brisk brushing or currying! I've been reading Jack Meagher's out of print books and I respect the methods he used. I'm really looking forward to working with Jo-Anne, I hear that she is just a wealth of knowledge and I really like the fact that she only accepts students who are bodyworkers and attended massage school already.

I got to thinking about it and you know I've never asked my vet or farrier what their experience is with horses outside of their work. I don't care if they have a wall of ribbons at home, I just care about how well they treat my horses.

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Timedess » Mon May 02, 2011 3:31 pm

ellie-- if you feel confidence in your teacher-of-choice, you will go a lot farther, even in a "smaller/shorter" schooling situation, than you would if you went to a larger/longer school whose instructors you didn't feel comfortable/confident with. I think you'll have fun, and learn lots!
~Renee

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Elliemare » Fri May 20, 2011 10:49 am

I just got back from equine sportsmassage training and... wow! I think I learned more in two days than I learned in six months of massage school! Well, maybe not, but it feels like it! Information overload! All of the knowledge is sinking in now and I'm sorting out all that I learned. I'm eager to soak up even more information and just ordered a few new books too.

I am so excited to get started. I think this is just what I needed to spark my passion again. I'm taking the next two months or so to work on friends horses and get experience evaluating muscle imbalances and working on various horses of different disciplines and conditioning. I am so ready to start taking my practice in whole new direction.

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Re: Equine massage: which is more important?

Post by Sole_Purpose » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:09 am

Elliemare wrote:I just got back from equine sportsmassage training and... wow! I think I learned more in two days than I learned in six months of massage school! Well, maybe not, but it feels like it! Information overload! All of the knowledge is sinking in now and I'm sorting out all that I learned. I'm eager to soak up even more information and just ordered a few new books too.

I am so excited to get started. I think this is just what I needed to spark my passion again. I'm taking the next two months or so to work on friends horses and get experience evaluating muscle imbalances and working on various horses of different disciplines and conditioning. I am so ready to start taking my practice in whole new direction.
I was wondering how it went! Very glad I found that you posted an update in this thread. Congrats! :banana:

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