Growing up I always new I wanted to pursue a career working with horses, I just didn’t know exactly which area I wanted to work in. (In fact I changed my mind at least once a week!).
After leaving high school at 16 I completed a two year Diploma in Equine Management, this covered all aspects of general horse care and delved a little into equine science, fitness and training, equine therapies and even grass land management (definitely my least favourite…. although useful stuff to know!). It was whilst on this course I completed a six week work placement at a rehabilitation centre with a swimming pool – where customers sent there horses to recover from injury and return to work using the swimming pool as a form of none weight bearing exercise.
I really enjoyed the process of designing individual programmes for the horse depending on the injury, and it was from this I decided to en role on a Bsc Hons degree in Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation. On this course you cover;
– Anatomy and physiology
– Fundamentals of science
– Therapy and training for performance and rehabilitation
– Advanced equine nutrition
– Equine biomechanics
– Sport injury and diagnostics
– Behaviour and welfare
– Complementary and alternative therapies
The course is a mixture of academic and practical study, learning the physical aspect of a therapy and the science behind it. During my degree I was also working as an event/hunt groom and it was interesting to begin to understand how to get a horse to peak condition – and maintain it whilst reducing the risk of injury. (Side note – I studied at Bishop Burton but you can do similar courses at Hadlow College).
During my degree several practitioners from different areas of the industry demonstrated their particular therapy. It was here that I first saw a demo of equine massage given by Angela Hall of Equine Massage Academy. Before this I had only ever encountered the ‘back man’, but Angela treated the horse as a whole. Focusing on all the superficial muscles, as well as the nervous system of the horse, whilst learning about its age, job role, diet which can all be causative factors in muscular pain. As well as treating, Angela also trains other therapists, stating that the Equine
Massage Academy (EMA) doesn’t just train people to ‘massage’, but produces therapists. Angela offered a gateway onto the career course to Bishop Burton graduates, as a lot of the academic content is covered on both courses – there are fewer written assignments for graduates. But you can also partake on the career course if you have an equine qualification, experience of working in the horse industry and a good general standard of education.
The course typically takes 14 months and you can find all details of the qualification on EMA’s website. www.equinemassageacademy.com
Upon qualification came the exciting part and where the hard work began. Be under no illusion that customers will just knock on your door. It takes hard work, patience and persistence to build up a customer base. And learning how to market and advertise (not something that comes naturally to someone who has been working as a groom for six years!).
The best advice I could give someone looking to work In any equestrian job is to find someone who is at the top of their game already – and learn from them! Take inspiration from how they work and adapt it to your own skill set. I have spent the last year and a half building a regular customer base and meeting some lovely people and horses along the way. My two favourite parts of the job (I couldn’t pick just one!) are No.1 seeing the reaction and positive change in the horse. They work so hard for us as riders and owners that I do get to feel as though you are giving them a thank you in return. Secondly I love to plan my own schedule and drive around meeting new people, and seeing regular faces chatting about their latest plans and goals with their equine partner! I do still work as a groom alongside massage, but it fits in so well around other jobs and life commitments. Once qualified , you are not just restricted to work In the area you live, massage is a growing trend all over the world! A number of Angelas students work in Dubai, Singapore and Australia!
To conclude, if you are interested in working as a massage therapist take a look at EMA’S website and read up on If its something that could be suited to you! Any equestrian job is going to be hard work both physically and mentally, long days, early starts, late nights and often not so nice working conditions – especially in the winter! That being said, working in a job you love will always be so much more rewarding – especially when you have lots of happy horses at the end of the day!