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How do you know an equine massage therapist is good?

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  • How do you know an equine massage therapist is good?

    What kind of certification should they have? Can anyone call themselves an equine massage specialist? What about chiro?

    Are there guidlines/things to look for?
    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    I don't think there is one governing body that hands out certification/credentials, more's the pity. So you really are stuck doing your homework: where did the MT do their training and was it a legitimate, in-depth program or a Cracker Jack diploma from somebody else's website? How many years in the business and how many clients? Have they any proof of their educational background above and beyond their MT training? Do they have excellent references from people whose judgment you trust? From vets? Does their philosophy and way of going about their work "fit" with what you're looking for?

    I haven't ever used a horse chiro that wasn't a vet--there is one good one around here so if I ever feel a horse needs that sort of thing, that's who I turn to. And that would be my preference. I've had very lukewarm experiences with MT's--nothing I've ever seen has impressed me as being much more than fluff and nice rubbing; something I could do myself. A couple have started doing energy fields and pseudo-psychic garbage--they're excused on the spot. The best one I've ever seen (I admit I virtually never seek out this sort of thing) was actually a student in what sounded like a nice, kinesiology- and anatomy-based program. She was green, but very much into how a horse moved, what its job was, and what could and could not be accomplished with massage.
    Click here before you buy.

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    • #3
      I got recommendations from other horse owners and more importantly other vets for the one I used but in the end, it was my horse who told me how good she was!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by deltawave View Post
        I don't think there is one governing body that hands out certification/credentials, more's the pity. So you really are stuck doing your homework: where did the MT do their training and was it a legitimate, in-depth program or a Cracker Jack diploma from somebody else's website? How many years in the business and how many clients? Have they any proof of their educational background above and beyond their MT training? Do they have excellent references from people whose judgment you trust? From vets? Does their philosophy and way of going about their work "fit" with what you're looking for?

        <snip>

        The best one I've ever seen (I admit I virtually never seek out this sort of thing) was actually a student in what sounded like a nice, kinesiology- and anatomy-based program. She was green, but very much into how a horse moved, what its job was, and what could and could not be accomplished with massage.
        What deltawave said. The woman who works on my horse went through a respected long term training program like the one described above. If she had done one of those moronic internet or three day courses, she would never be allowed near my horse. I also had great references for her from all different kinds of competitive types and from people I know.

        The massage she does seems to be some kind of deep tissue type thing and my horse loves it (and moves more fluidly afterwards).

        She will note problems with the horse (are there scratches/cuts, has he lost weight, is he abnormally sensitive anywhere as compared to the previous time), but would never, ever offer medical or nutrition advice.
        According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by loshad View Post
          What deltawave said. The woman who works on my horse went through a respected long term training program like the one described above. If she had done one of those moronic internet or three day courses, she would never be allowed near my horse.

          She will note problems with the horse (are there scratches/cuts, has he lost weight, is he abnormally sensitive anywhere as compared to the previous time), but would never, ever offer medical or nutrition advice.
          THis is a great description of a competent therapist. I went through a short course years ago and was appalled at my lack of understanding. I have since completed a much longer course that involved apprenticeship to practitioners with years of education and experience, as well as copious amounts of "book-learning," i.e., equine anatomy and physiology, so that I have a good basic understanding of the hows and whys of what I do. The longer course also provided much more time to learn and become competent in a variety of techniques, so I have more tools at my disposal to handle different situations.

          I would never have hired myself coming out of the "moronic" course! I had people offer me money to work on their horses and I refused because I didn't feel I had any expertise at that time. In fact, I continued to hire better-credentialed therapists to work on my horses, even while I practiced my embryonic skills on them.

          And as mentioned, a competent therapist should have a clear understanding of the limits of his/her practice ... diagnoses of illness/lameness, nutrition, training advice are not part of it.

          For chiropractic work, I personally insist upon a DVM that is not only a well-trained and experienced chiropractor but also has a specialty in lameness. Human chiros that do equines, or practitioners certified through some of these week-long (or even weekend!) courses do not, I feel, have sufficient expertise to properly address the complexities of the horse's skeleton and motion.
          Equinox Equine Massage

          In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
          -Albert Camus

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          • #6
            It's harder with massage therapists, since there are so many organizations offering certificates. Just ask where they learned and check out the school. As other mentioned make sure it's not a 3 day course. Check out the class description at the website and make sure they actually are learning the things you want. And if possible, watch them work.

            For chiro, there are 2 certifications available, the IVCA and the AVCA. Both have lists of their certified practitioners and are about the same, as they both require one of three >200 hour courses and passing a written and practical exam for certification

            Some states actually are writing into the practice act that for chiro you need to have attended one of the 3 major schools to practice.

            Avoid chiros that use force methods or gimmics to get the job done. (There is a story about a guy that drops hay bales from the loft on the horses to adjust them...this is NOT good....)

            I think chiros trained in veterinary chiropractic are fine, just avoid those that just decide to do it on their own. There are significant differences in anatomy to account for....

            Also avoid vets that think they can do chiro becasue they took a weekend course. there is more to it than you can pick up in a weekend....
            Turn off the computer and go ride!

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            • #7
              I've always used chiros that are vets. I've only used one massage therapist - she came recommended by people I knew and I noticed my horse felt a lot better under saddle after her massages so I figured she was good! :-)

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              • #8
                For a massage person, I would want someone with multiple years of experience working on people.
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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                • #9
                  My Chiro is also a vet (and FEI competitor).

                  My MT is actually an REMT who went through a 2-year program at a respected RMT school that expanded. She has a strong understanding of equine anatomy, and how MT fits into the overall Vet-Chiro-MT picture. Not only does my mare feel great after she works on her, but she also does rehab work under vet instructions.

                  And if I asked her to read my horse's aura she'd probably run away screaming.
                  "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by coloredhorse View Post
                    THis is a great description of a competent therapist. I went through a short course years ago and was appalled at my lack of understanding. I have since completed a much longer course that involved apprenticeship to practitioners with years of education and experience, as well as copious amounts of "book-learning," i.e., equine anatomy and physiology, so that I have a good basic understanding of the hows and whys of what I do. The longer course also provided much more time to learn and become competent in a variety of techniques, so I have more tools at my disposal to handle different situations.

                    I would never have hired myself coming out of the "moronic" course! I had people offer me money to work on their horses and I refused because I didn't feel I had any expertise at that time. In fact, I continued to hire better-credentialed therapists to work on my horses, even while I practiced my embryonic skills on them.

                    And as mentioned, a competent therapist should have a clear understanding of the limits of his/her practice ... diagnoses of illness/lameness, nutrition, training advice are not part of it.

                    For chiropractic work, I personally insist upon a DVM that is not only a well-trained and experienced chiropractor but also has a specialty in lameness. Human chiros that do equines, or practitioners certified through some of these week-long (or even weekend!) courses do not, I feel, have sufficient expertise to properly address the complexities of the horse's skeleton and motion.
                    As someone who also attended the same long course earlier this year with Coloredhorse I agree with her that this is the way to go for a MT.
                    I have a background as a Lic. Vet Tech and that level of training I was used to made me seek out an indepth course.
                    Like she said there was many hours spent with an experienced MT professional. Also lots of book work learning alot about kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, and different medical conditions.

                    It is very important for the MT one choses to have a good idea of where their job lies and not to cross over into someone else's. While my tech background offers me alot of knowledge about veterinary conditions and treatments I would ALWAYS say have the vet out and would NEVER try to do a backyard diagnosis.

                    If I were not able to work on my own mare and needed to find a MT I would look for someone with the schooling like I have received. While experience is good I wouldnt not call someone who is new so long as they came with good recommendations.
                    Your vet, farrier, or trainer may have the information you need to make a good decision.

                    As far as chiro's go, I generally stick with vets who have taken a full vet chiro course. The one I use is not only a vet and chiro, he is also a specialist in surgery/lameness. I always feel like I get the best work from him.
                    But there is at least one very good chiro who I think is not a DVM. But I think they have done extensive training in horse movement and anatomy. So it really is a case by case situation and finding out the details is helpful.

                    Overall your horse can tell you the best. First off if they even like the person at all! Then also in how they respond during and also after the session.
                    Free and Forward Motion through Massage Therapy
                    www.amandastarrbodywork.com

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                    • #11
                      It is hard to know trail and error. My horse gets three messages a week while on stall rest. What I know is he likes it!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I usually use chiropractors by word of mouth. The last one I've been using is a lameness vet who works at (and might own) an equine hospital and works all over two different states.

                        But honestly, I'm not sure if I'm going to continue using him because he keeps freaking out about minor things and that makes me question his ability. (ex- convinced my horse had a broken pelvis... rushed off to the vet clinic the next day and told it was highly improbable)

                        So I'm in the market for a new chiro. I'm looking at the AVCA- American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. I found someone on there who is certified through that, also a DVM, and also practices/teaches Chinese Medicine. I haven't set up an appointment yet but the credentials all sound good to me.

                        Has anyone tried Tui-Na as an alternative to massage? I can't seem to find any equine body workers since I moved, so I thought I'd look into that.
                        I bought a few DVDs and books to try to work on my own horses as well... have to save money somewhere!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                          What kind of certification should they have? Can anyone call themselves an equine massage specialist? What about chiro?

                          Are there guidlines/things to look for?
                          Once they've visited, I would judge by the results ( or lack of results) in my horse.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Tegan, where in FL are you? One of my (and dressagevettech's -- hi A!) mentors spends winters down there, and there are other graduates from our school there, some part-time, others year-round.

                            Tui-Na is massage. It relies heavily on myofascial release techniques coupled with stimulation of acupressure points and stretching. I've not actually studied with a practitioner, but my work seems similar, as I also incorporate acupressure and Reiki into my personal massage "style."

                            Like any hands-on massage or energy technique, it's a "feel skill" -- not unlike riding! -- and hard to learn correctly from books or DVDs alone. You'd do well to try to find a practitioner familiar with the technique to bolster your studies and confirm that you are using it properly.

                            If you can travel a bit, our school also offers 1- and 2-day introductory massage courses geared toward owners like you, who want to be able to do some work on their own horses. Next one is set for Feb. 13.
                            Equinox Equine Massage

                            In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
                            -Albert Camus

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I really, really, like Equine Touch. I've met several practitioners who have been absolutely amazing, and definitely produced results in my horse. A practitioner must go through 4 levels (although you can learn levels one and two for yourself), they have to present case studies, and ongoing education, to pass level 4 and then charge clients. It's known worldwide.

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