Massage is the assessment of soft tissues and joints of the body and the treatment or prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissues and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function and to relieve pain. In summary, massage is the assessment and manipulation of soft tissues to improve or maintain physical function.
Effects of Massage:
Massage therapy uses manipulations of the therapist’s hand against the skin of the horse to stimulate or sedate the body’s systems to maintain homeostasis. Massage therapy can have profound effects on the following systems:
- Musculoskeletal system (muscles and joints)
- Cardiovascular system (blood flow and gas and nutrient exchange)
- Lymphatic system (lymph fluid and vessels)
- Respiratory system (breathing and gas exchange)
- Nervous system (nerves, brain, and spinal cord)
- Endocrine system (hormones and chemical signals in the body)
- Digestive system (passage and processing of foodstuffs)
Due to the effects of massage, certain horses are not recommended for massage. The massage therapist should receive a full case history and permission from the attending veterinarian before working on the horse for this reason.
Why A Registered Equine Massage Therapist:
A Registered Equine Massage Therapist (REMT) is trained to perform massage to the standards of the International Federation of Registered Equine Massage Therapists (IFREMT). The IFREMT is in place to ensure safe and legal practice of its members. Thus, when hiring a registered member, the client knows the horse is in safe and capable hands.
All REMTs must undergo extensive training, including 2200 hours of in class and hands on instruction as well as a 100 hour externship with a practicing veterinarian in good standing with the CVO. This program includes (but is not limited to):
- Equine Anatomy: 285 hours
- Equine Physiology: 285 hours
- Equine Pathology: 290 hours
- Conformation and Kinesiology: 130 hours
- Equine Massage Theory and Techniques: 335 hours
- Equine Massage Treatmments: 325 hours
- Hydrotherapy: 55 hours
This training is what sets the REMT apart from any other equine massage therapist. Any other designation of equine massage therapist will have varying degrees of education and do not have the IFREMT to safeguard them or the client. Without the IFREMT supporting them, there is no way to know how much knowledge, education and expertise a practitioner has.
In practice, the REMT is required to obtain consent from the owner or agent of the horse as well as the attending veterinarian before performing massage. The therapist will work with the veterinarian to ensure the safety and quality of massage throughout the process and to keep the horse’s best interest in mind.
As an REMT, safety for myself and the horse is one of my primary concerns. I am trained to manage horses safely during massage, massage all areas of the equine body safely and effectively, to stretch the horse safely and effectively, and to communicate with the horse’s Veterinarian throughout the therapeutic or rehabilitative process.