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. It is a powerful modality used to reduce the risk of injury in athletes as well as enhance their recovery after an injury.

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 10,000 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 increased 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 and of course equine massage therapist. 

 What kind of demand is there for equine massage therapy?

Every equestrian - owner, trainer, and rider of horses of all disciplines understands that the horse is the ultimate athlete. There is no other athlete that gives more of his heart and soul to his partner and sport. We nurture our human athletes’ muscular systems with sports massage; our horses need the therapy just as much. We, as horsemen, want our horses to have every possible edge. Massage therapy can help provide that edge. Because of the health-promoting qualities of massage, as well as its curative properties this therapy is being incorporated by knowledgeable horsemen 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 certification of 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's program devotes considerable classroom time to the fundamentals of massage therapy on humans as a preface to studying its applications on horses.

 What subjects are covered in the curriculum?
The major emphasis in the ESMT Certification Program is on the safe application of massage techniques and massage strokes. Students will learn the basic physiology and anatomy of the muscular system. 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. Please see our course information page for more details. 

 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. 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 fully prepared to administer equine massage therapy in an effective, therapeutic, and professional manner.  

How long will it take for me to become certified by Equissage as an ESMT? Where is the training conducted?

Equissages’ Certification Program consists of one week (five days) of intensive classroom study and individualized practical application. Class size is limited to 10 candidates. Both the classroom and practical application segments are conducted at Equissages’ facility in Valley Center, Ca. Please see our facility page for more details and pictures.
 
What kind of compensation can I expect as an ESMT?

Fees presently range from $85.00 to $125.00 per session and a session will generally last an hour or so. If a particular track or barn has already been exposed to the advantages of equine sports massage, a fee of $100.00 is easily accepted. A track or barn where the owner or trainers have not yet witnessed the benefits of massage, a fee of $85.00 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?
Equissage Graduates are offered the benefit of marketing their services through the Equissage California Directory of ESMT’s.

This

benefits graduates in many ways, one being that it immediately establishes credibility for our graduates as they establish their own clientele. Another benefit is the internet exposure that the site gains through our many marketing efforts, internet and print.  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).

What is the cost of the program?
Exclusive of travel and lodging expenses, the cost of the Equissage ESMT Certification Program is $1395.00. This fee includes tuition, all books and materials, and snacks and drinks during the week. Applications for enrollment must include a $300.00 non-refundable deposit or payment in full in order to reserve a seat in the class. Credit card payments through PayPal are accepted for payment,

along with a personal check, cash or money order.

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 have been trained and certified by Equissage and that you are a certified ESMT.

Equissage California’s Chief Instructor, Sabrina Kohoutek
Sabrina Kohoutek is the Chief Instructor of Equissage California. Equissage California is the West Coasts leading training organization devoted to muscle rehabilitation and fulfilling potential in the equine athlete. As a passionate leader in equine health and rehabilitation, Sabrina has appeared on CBS news, and in many newspaper articles. She has been recognized for her ability to heal not only
horses, but people as well through teaching the implementation of this therapy. 

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 and best ESMT Certification Program.

 The Equissage Certification Program has trained more than 10,000 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. 

Frequently Asked Questions