Equine Sports Massage Therapist  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotAn equine sports massage therapist (ESMT) makes horses feel good by applying the principles of professional sports massage, developed and used by human athletes, on our equine counterparts.

dotIt's not unusual for human athletes to require a massage to soothe aching, tired muscles. The same principles are used on horses to increase performance levels and endurance.

"Massage is an old field," says Debranne McDaniel, an equine sport massage instructor and owner of an ESMT training school in California. "Years ago, a groom was expected to know how to massage a horse." But as people began to own horses for recreation, the art was lost.

dotESMTs learn equine anatomy, various massage techniques, proper stretching and warm-up exercises.

The therapy can be long term, and convincing owners that it's useful isn't always easy. "It's a very new trend," says equine massage therapist Sherry Seymour. "It's a little slower out west, but hang in there. It's up and coming."

dotMany ESMTs have already trained as human massage therapists, taking on equine therapy as a sideline. Most are involved with horses in other ways, too. Some transfer their skills to use on show dogs.

dotThough equine massage therapy isn't regulated in America, experts predict that will change in the next few years. So it's important to get trained by a qualified instructor now to avoid problems in the future.

dotESMTs are hired by horse owners, barn owners, veterinarians and trainers. Many of these employers, however, often send an employee to a course, or even take the training themselves.

dotThough ESMTs are trained to work safely, McDaniel points out that whenever you are working with horses, there's a risk of injury.

The job often involves a considerable amount of travel, because you have to drive to where the horses are. It helps if you live in "horse country."

At a Glance

Make horses feel good

  • Certification is being considered
  • Experienced therapists charge up to $150 per session
  • Familiarity with horses and their anatomy is recommended