.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 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 Approved Provider program in Equine Sports Massage Therapy. The program has been a huge success, with more than 20,000 Approved Providers who have come through the Equissage Program.
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 attending an equine sports massage therapy program?
No. At present there are no state regulations governing 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 devotes considerable time to the fundamentals of massage therapy on humans as a preface to studying its applications on horses.
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. Equissage's Program starts with the basics of massage therapy and thoroughly develops the student's understanding 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.
What information is covered in the program?
The major emphasis in the ESMT Program is on the application of massage techniques and massage strokes. Participants will learn the basic physiology of muscles, the location of major muscles and muscle groups. Participants 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 is a typical week at Equissage like?
- Introduction and distribution of Program materials
- The Equine Musculoskeletal System
- History of Massage
- The Mechanics of Equine Sports Massage
- Meet the models (our horses) Safety in the barn
- Evaluation of the Equine Athlete
- the Equissage Massage Sequence
- Q&A - Review of material covered
- Hands on Instruction / Practice on the Models
-More hands on practice/coaching
- The Musculoskeletal System
- Review of the prior two days
- Functional Assessment
-Muscular issues and related performance issues
-Student / hands on practice
-Review of full massage sequence
-Review of strokes, pressure and sequence
-Hands on practice with coaching
-Test on Muscles and Functions
-Hands on practice/ test preparation
- Final examination, each student completes a full massage on one of the equine models
- Presentation of Certificate upon successful completion
How long will it take for me to complete the program by Equissage as an ESMT?
Equissage's Program consists of one week (five days) of intensive on-site study and individualized practical application. Each daily session is approximately 9 hours long.
Where is the training conducted?
The practical application segments are conducted at Equissage's equine facility in Round Hill, in the heart of Virginia's horse country. The village of 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.
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. Please contact the Best Western directly at 703.777.9400 to reserve your room. If you book online and need to reschedule your stay, you will not be reimbursed. Please call the hotel directly at the number above to book your room. The Best Western provides a wonderful hot and continental breakfast, included in the price of your stay. Lunches will be provided by Equissage.
What other features/benefits are available through completion of the Equissage Program?
Membership in the International Association of Animal Massage Therapists (IAAMT) is offered to all students successfully completing the ESMT program. 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.
What is the cost of the program?
The cost of the Equissage ESMT program is $1395.00. This fee includes tuition, all 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 manual: The (How To) Manual of Sports Massage for the Equine Athlete. This total deposit is deducted from the total fee of $1395.00. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover are accepted for payment. Cash, a personal check, or money order are accepted as well.
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. The certificate you receive from us will show that you successfully completed the Program.
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 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 Program
When selecting an equine sports massage 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 program you are considering or the program'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?
When you get answers to those questions we are confident you will choose Equissage; the nation's oldest ESMT Program.
The Equissage Program has trained more than 20,000 therapists - from every state in the U.S. and 20 countries. Each year, both numbers grow.
Participants 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.
To choose your week to attend Equissage, please visit our Program Schedule.
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