What exactly is Equine Sports Massage Therapy?
Equine Sports Massage Therapy is the therapeutic application of hands-on deep tissue techniques to the voluntary muscle system - for the purpose of increasing circulation, reducing muscle spasms, relieving tension, enhancing muscle tone, promoting healing and increasing range of motion in all breeds of horses.
Who/what is Equissage?
Equissage is the leading trainer of equine sports massage therapists in the world. Since the inauguration of its original certificate program in 1991, Equissage has trained more than 20,000 professional therapists. These graduates work for the top of owners and trainers in the horse world, and some have been selected as official massage therapists for national equestrian teams around the world. Mary Schreiber, the founder of Equissage, is acknowledged to be one of the true pioneers of horse and other animal massage in the country. Her best-selling videos on horse and dog massage have had worldwide distribution, with translations into a number of foreign languages. Her book The (How To) Manual Of Sports Massage For the Equine Athlete is recognized as the "Bible" of equine massage instruction, and her work has been featured on ABC Television's Health Show, Sports Illustrated magazine, NBC TV and in leading equestrian journals around the world.
Is massage therapy recognized as beneficial to an animal's well being?
Yes, increasingly so. Just as the popularity of less invasive approaches to health care in humans has gained in recent years, so too have these procedures and methods gained acceptance in the care and treatment of animals. We have witnessed the recent advent of professionals like equine chiropractors, equine physical therapists and equine nutritionists in the horse world.
What qualifications or background are considered important for success as an Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT)?
The most important qualification for success as an ESMT is a love of animals, empathy for suffering animals, and a sincere desire to help alleviate that suffering. While it would be preferable to have a background in massage therapy, it is not mandatory. Equissage's Certification Program starts with the basics of massage therapy and thoroughly schools the student in every aspect of the discipline. As a graduate, you will be confident that you know everything you need to know to provide equine massage therapy in an effective, therapeutic, and professional manner.
What kind of demand is there for Equine Massage Therapy, and is the therapy "transferable" to other companion animals?
Every horse owner and trainer - whether they own or work with horses involved in competition, - wants, and in many instances, needs their equines to be free of muscle problems that can cause pain and inhibit the horses's movement and performance.
Because of the health-promoting qualities of massage, as well as its restorative properties, knowledgeable owners and trainers are incorporating this therapy as an integral part of their horse's total and continuous health care program.
The therapy is certainly transferable - by virtue of its generally universal effectiveness and similarity of technique - to other companion animals, such as cats. It would be necessary that those wishing to market feline massage services to study and lean the muscle system of the cat.
Must an individual be licensed as a certified (human) massage therapist before being certified in Equine Massage Therapy?
No. At present there are no state regulations governing the licensing or certification of equine massage therapists. To put it in proper perspective, there are only 22 states that require licensing for human massage therapists. It will be quite a while - if ever - before states get around to licensing those who massage animals. As recognized leaders in the development of this therapy, we believe that Equissage would undoubtedly play a role in the establishment of regulatory guidelines when, and if, the day of state regulation should arrive. Massaging a horse, dog, or cat is not the same as massaging a human. To require an animal massage therapist to first learn how to massage humans would be akin to requiring a veterinarian to first attend medical school before practicing on animals. We do instruct our students in the fact that massage therapy is not a substitute for veterinary care.
Students successfully completing the program will receive 50 hours of continuing education hours, as approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).
What subjects are covered in the curriculum?
The major emphasis in the ESMT Program is on the application and sequence of massage techniques and massage strokes. As a necessary preface to this, it is vital that students be familiar with the basic physiology of muscles, the location of each major muscle and muscle group in the horse, the activity controlled by each muscle and the specific conditions which may affect the horse if those muscles are not adequately nourished through good blood and lymphatic circulation.
Lastly, the curriculum devotes itself to a discussion of the tried and true means and procedures to be employed in starting and profitably marketing your equine massage business.
Can I really expect to learn the therapy and earn my certification through home study?
Yes. The home study certificate program in Equine Sports Massage is formatted and patterned after our Equine On-site program. It has the experience, support, and backing of Equissage, Inc. Since 1991, Equissage has trained more professional animal massage therapists than anyone in the world. With respect to its Equine Massage program, Equissage graduates work for some of the very top trainers and owners in the horse world and have been selected by various national equestrian teams to work the world championship and Olympic games.
How does the course work?
The program has been divided into six intensive but easy-to-understand lessons, which are designed so that the student works at his or her own pace. Each lesson concludes with a written examination, which is formatted to serve as both a review of the important material in each lesson as well as a precursor of the information required to pass the final examination. These individual lesson exams will be graded by the student and are not sent to Equissage for grading. At the conclusion of Lesson VI, the student will notify Equissage that he/she is ready for the final written exam. The test will be sent. The student will complete the written exam at his/her own pace and then return the completed exam to Equissage with a video demonstrating the student's full massage of a horse. Upon successfully passing the written and video exams, the student is then awarded the certificate in Equine Sports Massage Therapy.
Do I receive a certificate when I graduate?
Yes, upon successful completion of the course, and final exams (written and video) you will receive a certificate. On your certificate, it will state that you are certified as an Equine Sports Massage Therapist by Equissage. It will not mention if you studied the course on site or through the home study course. Students successfully completing the program will also receive 50 hours of continuing education hours, as approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).
At each step of the program, the student is secure in the knowledge that he or she has unlimited access to the Equissage staff for questions, comments, etc., via the toll-free number. It is the Equissage pledge that no question will go unanswered or unresolved for longer than 24 hours.
We have a 95% passing rate and offer our students the opportunity to re-take any part of the final exam in order for them to become certified. There is no time limit set by Equissage for a student to complete the course.
What is the cost of the program?
The cost of the Equissage Home Study Certificate Program in Equine Massage Therapy is $895. This includes all books, tests, audio and DVDs, and other materials. This tuition is payable in full at the time of enrollment. If for any reason a prospective student's application is rejected, the total fee is refunded. Once a student is accepted into the program, tuition is non-refundable and non-transferable to the Equissage On Site Course. Visa and MasterCard are accepted for payment, along with personal check, cash or money order. All graduates of the ESMT program are invited to join the International Association of Animal Massage Therapists (IAAMT) for a small membership fee.
Is the Equissage ESMT program available online?
No, not at this time. All program materials are sent to the student's home. There is a great deal of information, illustrations, etc. that would make it difficult to properly have the entire curriculum online.
What kind of compensation can I expect as a ESMT?
You can expect to earn between $50 to $100 per session, with a session usually lasting between 40 and 50 minutes. If a particular owner- or trainer-client has previously been exposed to the benefits of massage therapy, a fee in the higher range is easily accepted. Where an owner or trainer perhaps has not previously experienced the advantages of massage, a lower fee might be expected.
Make no mistake about it, however; as a certified ESMT you are offering a valuable professional service and you should expect to be paid as the health care professional you are.
As a graduate of Equissage's ESMT program, may I use the Equissage name in marketing my practice?
No. Equissage is a copyrighted name and cannot be used in the name which you select for your business; however, you may of course advise your clients that you are a graduate of the Equissage school and that you are a certified massage therapist.
Selecting A Certification Program
When selecting an animal massage certification program, be sure to check the credentials of anyone offering the program. Some questions you might want to ask are:
- How many articles have appeared in national publications about either the course you are considering or the course's chief instructor?
- How many books and videos on animal massage have been authored by the chief instructor?
- How many veterinarians have chosen to enroll in that program or school?
- What are the average earnings of a graduate of the program and how many graduates are there?
When you get the answers to these questions, we are sure you will choose Equissage, the nation's oldest and most respected animal massage school.
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