Wanting to start a career in equine massage therapy but don't know where to start? This article will explain how!
Step 1 - Determine if animal massage is legal in your state
While most states do not have licensing boards pertaining to animal massage, there are different regulations from state to state mainly depending on the state's veterinary board. Some states do not allow anyone except a licensed veterinarian to massage animals, while other states allow certified animal massage therapists to work under veterinary supervision or referral and other states allow animal massage without any veterinary affiliation. Click this link for a list of animal massage laws by US state.
Step 2 - Decide what type of course is best suited for you
There are many equine massage programs available ranging from one day or weekend courses to 100+ hour courses. You will find courses that are completely hands on, ones that have both home study and classroom requirements and ones that can be completed completely online. There are pros and cons to each which you must consider before choosing a school.
Classroom Programs: Pros: these classes will offer you the most personal guidance while you are learning the massage techniques. Cons: you will have to travel to the location where the course is held which comes with additional expenses (plane flight or gas expense, hotels, food, taking days off work and other expenses). Another con is that you must be available during the specific days the course is held.
Home Study with Classroom hours: Pros: these courses have a little more flexibly as far as the time you have to complete it since there is an online component. They will also offer the same personal guidance as a classroom only program since you will do part of your training in person. Cons: these types of courses have the same cons as a hand's on only program...you will need to travel (with adds expenses to your cost of education) and you will need to be available during the specific class dates.
Online Course: Pros: Start and complete the course on your own schedule without deadlines or timeframes. If something comes up in your life and you need to put the course on the back burner, you can without losing any registration fees. These courses are also usually more economical since you do not have to add on the expenses of traveling. Cons: you do not get the same personal one on one guidance as you would in a classroom setting.
Step 3 - Find a program that is affiliated with other organizations
Since animal massage is not regulated by the state, there is no state licensing board for it. This means that pretty much anyone can teach animal massage. To ensure that you are taking a quality course and receiving a valid certification, make sure that the program you choose is affiliated with other bodywork organizations.
The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is a massage organization for licensed human massage therapists. They will approve some animal massage courses as continuing education for their members. If a course has the NCBTMB seal of approval, then you know it has been reviewed and approved by this strict organization.
The International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork (IAAMB) is another great organization that offers membership to those who have received a certification from an approved school (schools must apply and meet their requirements to become approved). If the program you choose is approved by IAAMB, then you will be able to become a member of their organization which will provide you with support as you are practicing animal massage and options for malpractice insurance (in the US and Canada).
Step 4 - Enroll, complete and start practicing!
Enroll in the course that meets all your requirements. Complete the course material and receive your certification and start practicing! Note that is definitely helps if the program you choose also has a business aspect to it. You could be the best equine massage therapist in the world, but if you don't know how to run your own business, you will not be successful.
About Our Program
Angel's Animals LLC offers an online equine massage certification program. Our course is a 100 hour course that requires the student to complete 50 hands on practice hours, 10 case studies, homework assignments and 2 exams to receive their certification. Our program is available to people in every country and does not have any timeframes or deadlines. One of the many great things about this course is that you can log into it at any point in the future (even years after completing it) to review the material....your course never expires!
Our course is approved through NCBTMB, IAAMB, IVCA, ACAN and several other organizations.
Click here to view the full curriculum
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I know if I'm doing the techniques correctly if the course is online? This course has been structured in such a way that it maximizes the learning potential. There are also homework assignments that must be submitted via video of the student performing the techniques. The videos are reviewed by Dr. Barbara and the student receives feedback and must master the technique before they can move on in the course.
What if I have a question as I am reviewing the material? Dr. Barbara makes herself available to students through email, FB, website chats and other forms of communication. When a student asks a question, they can normally expect a response within a few min to an hour. If the student is in another country and happens to write when Dr. Barbara is sleeping, they will have to wait a bit longer, but most students can attest to the fact that they normally get instantaneous responses for her allowing them to move on with their studying without having to wait.
Am I able to communicate with other students? Yes! We have private FB groups for each of our courses which allows current and past students to interact with each other. This is a great way to share case studies, ask questions and seek advice from other students and practitioners who have already received their certification.
How do I take the online course? When you register, you will be sent a link and password so that you can access your course. The course is comprised of presentations (by Dr. Barbara), PowerPoints, articles and demonstrative videos. You can save your place in the course so that you can start up where you left off the next time you log in. The exams are completed online. Homework assignments and case studies are submitted through email (with videos). Hands on practice hours are done at a local horse rescue or therapeutic riding center (if there is not one located in your town, Dr. Barbara will help you find other arrangements).
How much does the course cost and can I make payments? This course is $1100 USD. You have the option to prepay at a discount (total of $990) or make 4 monthly payments of $275. Although our prices are in US dollars, we do have many international students and their payment will be converted to USD at checkout.
What techniques does the course cover? The course covers Swedish, Shiatsu, Myofascial Release, TMJ Release, Gua Sha and Core Muscle Stim massage as well as several physical therapies (hot and cold therapy, stretches, ultrasound, whole body vibrational therapy, etc).
What will my certification title be? Once you complete the certification process, you will have the title of Certified Equine Myo-manipulative Functional Therapist. You will receive a high quality, wax sealed certificate in the mail and your name (along with your contact info and website) will be listed on our website under practitioners so that potential clients can find you.
How do I register? You can register here.
Have a question we didn't cover? Email Dr. Barbara
Ever wonder if your dog could benefit from a massage? The likely answer is "yes". Similar to human benefits, massage therapy can have relaxing, healing and therapeutic effects on your dog.
Benefits of Massage for Your Dog:
Signs that Your Dog Could Be in Need of a Massage:
It is important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian before having him or her massaged to rule out more serious causes of disease and discomfort. Ask your veterinarian if your dog is a candidate for massage therapy before scheduled a massage. Since there are specific ways to correctly massage a dog and contraindications to massage (circumstances where massage could make the condition worse), it is important to utilize a certificated canine massage therapist or receive the proper training yourself before massaging your dog.
Dr. Angelique Barbara is the founder of Angel's Animals LLC, a company that has developed online animal bodywork courses for both owners and professionals. Dr. Barbara's unique teaching style along with the dynamic layout of the courses allows people of different educational backgrounds from all over the world to benefit from her knowledge.