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Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification
Home Study Program

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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 8,000 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 certified massage therapist before being certified in equine sports massage therapy?
No. At present there are no state regulations governing the licensing or certification of equine massage therapists. To put it in proper perspective, there are only 22 states that require licensing for human massage therapists. It will be quite a while - if ever - before states get around to licensing those who massage animals. As recognized leaders in the development of this therapy, we believe that Equissage would undoubtedly play a role in the establishment of regulatory guidelines when, and if, the day of state regulation should arrive. Massaging a horse is not the same as massaging a human. To require an equine massage therapist to first learn how to massage humans would be akin to requiring a veterinarian to first attend medical school before practicing on animals.

What subjects are covered in the curriculum?
The major emphasis in the ESMT Certification Home Study 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 may affect the horse if those muscles become strained, pulled, tired, tense, sore, or not adequately nourished through blood and lymphatic circulation.

The major emphasis in the ESMT Program is on the application and sequence of massage techniques and massage strokes. As a necessary preface to this, it is vital that students be familiar with the basic physiology of muscles, the location of each major muscle and muscle group in the horse, the performance activity controlled by each and the specific conditions which may affect the horse if those muscles are not adequately nourished through good blood and lymphatic circulation.

Another significant portion of the curriculum is devoted to the proper handling of all breeds of horses. This knowledge is key to establishing a suitable environment for the effective administration of the massage sequence.

Lastly, the curriculum devotes itself to a discussion of the tried and true means and procedures to be employed in starting and profitability marketing your equine massage business.

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 horses, 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.

Can I really expect to learn the therapy and earn my certification through home study?
Yes. The home study certificate program in Equine Massage has been in development for more than five years. The home study course has the experience, support, and backing of Equissage, Inc. Since 1991, Equissage has trained more professional animal massage therapists than anyone in the world. The program has been divided into six intensive but easy-to-understand lessons, which are designed so that the student works at his or her own pace. Each lesson concludes with a written examination, which is formatted to serve as both a review of the important material in each lesson as well as a precursor of the information required to pass the final examination. These individual lesson exams will be graded by the student and need not be sent to Equissage.

At the conclusion of Lesson VI, the student will advise Equissage that he/she is ready for the final written exam. The test will be forwarded to the student, and upon completion, returned to Equissage for grading, along with a video depicting the student's full massage of a horse of their choice. The certificate in Equine Massage Therapy, upon favorable grading of the final exam and review of the video, is then awarded and forwarded to the student.

At each step of the program, the student is secure in the knowledge that he or she has unlimited access to the Equissage staff for questions, comments, etc., via the toll-free number. It is the Equissage pledge that no question will go unanswered or unresolved for longer than 24 hours.

We have a 95% passing rate and offer our students the opportunity to re-take any part of the final exam in order for them to become certified. There is no time limit set by Equissage for a student to complete the course.

Also, on your certificate, it will state that you are certified through Equissage. It will not mention if you studied the course on site or through the homestudy course.

What is the cost of the program? The cost of the Equissage Home Study Certificate Program in Equine Massage Therapy is $895. This includes the Equine Sports Masssage Therapy Program Manual, The (How To) Manual of Sports Massage for the Equine Athlete, Sports Massage for the Equine Athlete (DVD or video), The Equissage Sequence (CD audio), Notes with Nicholas (DVD video comes with final exam), "Scooter's Muscle Demonstration" (DVD video), Focus on the Horse (CD audio), The Equissage Story (DVD, video). This tuition is payable in full at the time of enrollment. If for any reason a prospective student's application is rejected, the total fee is refunded. Once accepted into the program, tuition is non-refundable. All graduates of the ESMT program are invited to join the International Association of Animal Massage Therapists (IAAMT) for a small membership fee.

What kind of compensation can I expect 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 and an annual conference (featuring leading equine health professionals), the Association offers an INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF CLIENT REFERRALS. Discounts on travel, lodging, and insurance will become available to all Association members. ONLY GRADUATES OF THE EQUISSAGE ESMT PROGRAM 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).

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.



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