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What exactly is Equine Sports Massage Therapy?
Equine Sports Massage Therapy is the therapeutic application of hands-on massage techniques for the purpose of increasing circulation, relaxing muscle spasms, relieving tension, enhancing muscle tone, and increasing range of motion in high performance horses.
Who/what is Equissage?
Equissage was formed in 1989 for the purpose of offering massage therapy services to the equine athlete. Founded by two certified massage therapists, the company initially marketed its services at major East Coast racetracks. Prompted by their great success on Thoroughbred racehorses, the staff at Equissage moved on to many of the top-rated show barns in the region. In early 1990 the company began gaining national media attention and was subsequently featured in Sports Illustrated (July 16, 1990), on ABC Television's, National Health Show, and in numerous cable television documentaries. In 1990, Equissage produced a full-length instructional video on equine massage techniques. The video had worldwide distribution and, as a result, Equissage was invited to participate via demonstrations at Equitana '91 in Essen, Germany. Since that time the company has given clinics and seminars nationwide, and has worked as official massage therapists at such notable shows as the Gold Cup at Devon, PA. In 1991, the company introduced the nation's very first training program in equine sports massage therapy. The program has been a huge success, with more than 10,000 therapists who have earned their certification through Equissage.
Is massage therapy recognized (at racetracks and show barns) as valuable to a horse's well being?
Yes, increasingly so. Just as the popularity of holistic 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. In the equine world we have seen the recent advent of professionals like equine chiropractor, equine physical therapist, and equine nutritionist.
What kind of demand is there for equine massage therapy?
Every equestrian - owner, trainer, and rider of racehorses or show horses - wants his or her horse to have every possible edge in competition. Massage therapy can help provide that edge. Similarly, every owner of a pleasure horse wants the assurance that their horse is the best it can be. Because of the health promoting qualities of massage, as well as its curative properties, this therapy is being incorporated by knowledgeable equestrians as an integral part of their horses' total and continuous health care program.
Must an individual be licensed as a human massage therapist before being certified in equine sports massage therapy?
No. At present there are no state regulations governing the certification of equine sports massage therapists. This does not mean that there may not be such regulations in the future. As recognized leaders in the development of this therapy, Equissage will undoubtedly play a role in the establishment of regulatory guidelines when, and if the day of state regulation should arrive. Any such future regulation would be based on the principles of human massage therapy. This is one of the reasons Equissage's program devotes considerable classroom time to the fundamentals of massage therapy on humans as a preface to studying its applications on horses.
What subjects are covered in the curriculum?
The major emphasis in the ESMT Certification Program is on the application of massage techniques and massage strokes. Students will learn the basic physiology of muscles, the location of major muscles and muscle groups. Students will also learn to be aware of the specific conditions which arise in the horse if those muscles become strained, pulled, tired, tense, sore, or not adequately nourished through blood and lymphatic circulation.
What qualifications or background are considered important for success as an 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 administer equine massage therapy in an effective, therapeutic, and professional manner.
How long will it take for me to become certified by Equissage as an ESMT? Where is the training conducted?
Equissage's Certification Program consists of one week (five days) of intensive classroom study and individualized practical application. Each daily session is approximately 9 hours long. Both the classroom and practical application segments are conducted at Equissage's equine facility in Round Hill, in the heart of Virginia's horse country. Round Hill is located on Route 7, approximately 45 miles northwest of Washington D.C.; 25 miles west of Dulles International Airport; 35 miles east of Winchester, and 10 miles west of Leesburg. Courtesy car transportation is provided from Dulles International Airport to any of the major motel chains serving the Round Hill/Leesburg area.
Is there lodging available at Equissage?
Students who come to the Equissage program mainly stay at the Best Western in Leesburg, which is 15 minutes from the Equissage facility. The Best Western provides a corporate discount to the Equissage students as well as a free shuttle service to and from Washington Dulles Airport. The Best Western also brings the students to the Equissage facility on Monday morning. The Best Western also provides a wonderful hot and continental breakfast, included in the price of your stay. Lunches will be provided by Equissage.
What can I expect to earn as an ESMT?
Fees presently range from $50.00 to $100.00 per session and a session will generally last between 45 minutes and an hour. If a particular track or barn has already been exposed to the advantages of equine sports massage, a fee of $75.00 is easily accepted. A track or barn where the owner or trainers have not yet witnessed the benefits of massage, a fee of $50.00 may be in order. Make no mistake about it, as an ESMT you are offering a valuable professional service. You can expect to be paid as the health care professional that you are.
What other features/benefits are available through completion of the Equissage Certification Program?
Membership in the International Association of Animal Massage Therapists (IAAMT) is offered to all students successfully completing the ESMT program curriculum. In addition to quarterly newsletters, the Association offers an INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF CLIENT REFERRALS. ONLY GRADUATES OF THE EQUISSAGE ESMT PROGRAM AND CMTS ARE OFFERED MEMBERSHIP IN IAAMT. 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 is the cost of the program?
The cost of the Equissage ESMT program is $1295.00. This fee includes tuition, all books and materials, and a box lunch, which is provided daily. Travel and lodging expenses are additional and those arrangements are made by the student. Applications for enrollment must include a $300.00 non-refundable deposit which includes $49.95 for the program's textbook: The (How To) Manual of Sports Massage for the Equine Athlete. This total deposit is deducted from the total fee of $1295.00. Visa and MasterCard are accepted for payment, along with personal check, cash or money order.
As a graduate of Equissage's ESMT Certification 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 advise your clients that you are a graduate of the Equissage school and that you are a certified ESMT.
Chief Instructor Mary Schreiber
Mary Schreiber is the founder of Equissage, the nation's leading training organization devoted to muscle rehabilitation and fulfilling potential in the equine athlete. As one of the pioneers of equine sports massage therapy, Mary has appeared on ABC's nationally televised Health Show and in leading equine publications throughout the world. Her four videos on animal massage have had international distribution, and her book, The (How To) Manual of Sports Massage for the Equine Athlete has been a best seller both in the United States and Europe. For her achievements, Mary has been recognized with a listing in the national register of Who's Who of Executives and Professionals.
Selecting a Certification Program
When selecting an equine sports massage certification program, make sure you check the credentials of anyone offering this program. Some questions you should 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 or videos on equine 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 answers to those questions, you will choose Equissage, the nation's oldest ESMT Certification Program.
The Equissage Certification Program has trained more than 8,000 therapists - from every state in the U.S. and 19 countries.
Graduates of the program have gained national recognition and work for many of the top trainers in the equine world.
A number of international graduates of the Equissage Program were selected as official massage therapists for their country's Olympic equestrian team at the most recent Olympic games.