A career as an “equine body worker” (an individual who provides sports massage for equine athletes) is a relative new concept which has been introduced into the UK by a US company called Equinology run by international sports massage instructor Debranne Pattillo.
What is equine sports massage?
Debranne believes that equine sports massage expands on traditional methods which have been used by grooms for centuries.
“Equine massage is the hands-on application for accessing the overall condition of the horse and relieving tense, tight and sensitive muscles,” she explains.
“Our aim is to restore the horse’s freedom of movement. Subtle changes in the horse’s muscles can be detected at their earliest stage and sorted out, which is invaluable in the performance horse.”
Equine sports massage concentrates on muscles that are unable to release themselves. Often, muscle sensitivity is a symptom of other orthopaedic-type issues, injuries or illnesses. Sometimes, excessive use of a muscle can cause the muscle to function incorrectly.
“Incorporating massage into a regular training programme is beneficial,” says Debranne. “It has recently been proved scientifically that massage can increase the range of motion. In a healthy, sound horse, that means enhanced movement and improved stamina.”
Click here for more information on equine sports massage.
What does training involve?
Debranne’s US-based Equinology Inc and its UK subsidiary Equinenergy, owned by Nicole Rombach, provide courses in horse health science and care, including those aimed at owners, trainers, vets and physiotherapists, as well as people wishing to pursue a career as an “equine body worker”.
The course, which lasts around 110-130hrs including field work, covers applied anatomy, gait analysis, dental issues and saddle fitting, as well as massage routines, stretches and stress point therapy.
Students are expected to have a knowledge of veterinary terms, anatomy and horse handling skills before starting the course, which includes daily hands-on sessions.
By the end of the course, the class will be confident and skilled enough to perform a basic massage, starting with the muscles in the nose and ending with a pull on the horse’s tail to stretch and say “goodbye”.
On completion of their field work students are assessed and if they meet the required standards, they can then work on horses with the owners’ and vets’ permission.