A couple unrelated events weaved together and drove me to write this. I am part of an assortment of horse groups/classified pages on Facebook and I've noticed an increase of people offering equine massage/bodywork. Second, it was recently brought to my attention that information from my website was plagiarized and posted under another person's website (absolutely appalling and I can't help but feel violated). So between these two incidents, I thought it would be a good time to put together some tips on how to choose an equine massage therapist or bodyworker.
I personally choose not to use equine massage therapist and bodyworker interchangeably. I believe equine massage therapists only massage while bodyworkers employ a variety of techniques. Edit: Some people use these terms interchangeably solely due to state laws - more on this below.
Questions to ask
1. Inquire about their credentials/training and then do some research! They should be able to put you in touch with their instructor or at least give you a link to their website if needed. Equine massage therapy/bodywork is not a licensed profession like human massage. Furthermore, animal bodywork laws vary by state.
2. Do they have excellent references from people whose judgment you trust? How about from veterinarians? Word of mouth spreads quickly in the horse community!
1. Stay away from services that perform equine chiropractic that are not licensed veterinarians. Check out more information here: http://www.desertsageequine.com/2015/12/26/spinal-manipulation-vs-equine-chiropractic/
2. Avoid services claiming to provide a multitude of service with limited training. For example, I completed a sports massage certification and myofascial release certification, so I advertise my services as just that. I will never apply therapy I do not have education in.
3. Be wary of anyone that doesn't want you present during your horse's session. Important note here - there've been times when it's beneficial for me to have the owner to momentarily step away if their horse is feeding off any nervous energy.
4. Watch out for rough handling.
5. Watch your horse's behavior around the equine massage therapist/bodyworker. If your horse is suddenly difficult to handle, doesn't enjoy their session or doesn't want to be around the therapist/bodyworker, you may want to re-evaluate. Keep in mind that a massage can get uncomfortable when we hit a "sore" spot.
6. Stay away from anyone that can't answer your questions. The person you hire doesn't have to know-it-all (if they think they do, that's another red flag), but they should be able to answer most of your questions about what they are doing or what muscle they are working on/why/etc. If I am ever stumped when working on a horse, you can bet that as soon as I get home I am researching and communicating any new finds with the owner.
Don't be afraid to ask questions when you are entrusting the care of your equine friend to someone else. A good equine massage therapist/bodyworker will be happy to answer! And as always, trust your gut instinct!
Do you have any questions or other guidelines that may help others find a massage therapist/bodyworker? Feel free to share them!
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