Massage Therapy for Horses

July 19, 2010 (published)

Massage therapy is used commonly in human athletes and is now being used in equine athletes. However, there is a big difference; to be a human massage therapist in Texas, you have to be licensed and graduate from a state-approved program. There is no state licensing for equine massage therapy, and people who claim to be equine massage therapists may or may not have even gone to school. I think many horse folks just assume the equine massage therapists are correctly trained correctly and licensed simply because they are in human medicine, when there is no such thing as far as animals are concerned. Just because someone is licensed for massage in humans does not mean they are competent in animal massage.

Because most animals walk on four legs and humans walk on two, the muscles perform different functions; this is important in massage therapy and especially in chiropractic care, another area with no licensing for animal treatment. In fact, anyone listening to this program could call themselves a massage therapist or chiropractor and start working on animals today with no training. There are lots of reported benefits of massage in humans and these benefits may also be the same for animals. However, there is really no scientific proof of this and all benefits are potential benefits. And in humans, one study showed that graduates from schools that required more training hours were more effective therapists. So if you are going to have a massage therapist work on your horse, realize they are not licensed and they may have extensive training or almost none.

VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email

Information and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the author and are independent of the VIN News Service. Letters may be edited for style. We do not verify their content for accuracy.