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Selecting a Certification Programme, why Equissage Europe?
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 movement in high performance horses.
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 to major East USA coast racetracks and show barns. In early 1990 the company gained national media attention and was featured in Sports Illustrated, (July16, 1990) and on ABC television’s National Health Show.
In 1990 Equissage produced its first full-length instructional video. This led to the invitation to appear at ‘Equitana’ in Essen, Germany in 1991 to participate in demonstrations.
The company went on to introduce the first American training programme in equine sports massage therapy. The programme has been a huge success training over 10000 therapists from around the world.
Equissage Europe teaches the same intensive 5-day course with pre course study period, as Equissage. Helen Woolley, the course director and chief instructor has worked as a Chartered Physiotherapist for 25 years before training with Mary Schreiber in 2004. Equissage Europe was created to increase the ability for would be students to undergo the Equissage programme within Europe and become Certified massage Therapists.
Is massage therapy recognised in Europe as being valuable to the horses well being?
Yes, increasingly so. Just as holistic approaches are becoming more popular with humans, so too have these procedures and methods become acceptable in the care and treatment of animals.
What kind of demand is there for equine massage therapy?
Every equestrian- owners, trainers and riders of racehorses or show horses- wants his or her horse to have the edge on the competition. Massage therapy can help provide this. Similarly, every owner of a pleasure horse wants the best for that animal. Because of the health promoting qualities of massage, as well as its curative properties, knowledgeable equestrians as an integral part of their horses’ total and continuous health care programme are incorporating this therapy.
Must an individual be licensed and insured as a Certified Massage Therapist to work in the UK?
All Equissage Europe Graduates must abide by the law of the country they work within. Within the UK this is governed by the 1966 Veterinary Health Act

The Veterinary Act

As a result of the Veterinary Act (1966) and the subsequent exemptions; it is ILLEGAL for any person, other than the owner of the animal, to treat an animal unless the permission of the animals Veterinary Surgeon is SOUGHT and OBTAINED.

The implications of the Veterinary Act (1966) are to safeguard the WELFARE of HORSES.

As a direct result the Equine Masseur must contact the Veterinary Surgeon used by the client and gain permission to treat the animal.             

There are many therapists of varying specialism working outside the parameters of the Veterinary Act (1966).

These individuals are BREAKING THE LAW. They are often not INSURED, or members of a professional body.

The Veterinary Surgeons Act, passed in parliament in 1948 to protect the welfare of sick and injured animals from treatment by unqualified persons.

The practice of veterinary surgeons in the UK is governed by the Veterinary Act (1966). Under that act (with certain exemptions noted below) no one may practice veterinary surgery unless they are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The exemptions to the general rules of The Veterinary Act (1966) are as follows:

1. A doctor or dentist may carry out any treatment, test or operation on an animal, provided he does so at the request of a registered Veterinary surgeon.

2. A doctor may also perform an operation on an animal for the purposes of removing an organ or tissue for use in treatment of a human being.

3. The treatment of an animal by Physiotherapy; if carried out under the direction of a registered Veterinary Surgeon who has examined the animal and prescribed such a treatment.

4. An owner of an animal (or his employees, or other members of the owner’s household) may administer minor medical treatment to his own animal.

5. An owner of an agricultural animal (or anyone engaged or employed in caring for agricultural animals) may carry out medical treatment or minor surgery (not involving entry into a body cavity) on such an animal provided that it is not done for reward.

6. A Veterinary Nurse whose name is entered on the list of Veterinary Nurses maintained by the college may carry out any medical treatment or minor surgery to a companion animal; provided that the companion animal is for the time being, under the care of a registered Veterinary Surgeon.

7. Lay persons may administer first aid in an emergency, for the purposes of saving a life or relieving pain and suffering.

By training and becoming certified with a recognised long standing programme you are protecting your professional standing.
— The Veterinary Surgeons (Exemptions) Order 2015 (which revokes the Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 1962) allows the treatment of an animal by physiotherapy if the following conditions are satisfied:
—(1) the first condition is that the person providing the treatment is aged 18 or over
—(2) the second condition is that the person is acting under the direction of a qualified person who—
—(a) has examined the animal, and
—(b) has prescribed the treatment of the animal by physiotherapy.
—19.20  The Order specifies that a qualified person “means a person who is registered in the Register of Veterinary Surgeons or the Supplementary Veterinary Register”.
—19.21  'Physiotherapy' is interpreted as including all kinds of manipulative therapy. It therefore includes osteopathy and chiropractic but would not, for example, include acupuncture or aromatherapy.
All Graduates must obtain relevant Professional Liability Insurance before practicing as an ESMT and maintain appropriate levels of CPD
Are all Equissage Europe Graduates listed on the website?

No. Many Graduates do not wish for their details to be published on the internet. If you have a query concerning a Graduate then please contact Equissage Europe to confirm their registration.

What subjects are covered in the curriculum?
The major emphasis in the ESMT programme is on the application of massage techniques and massage strokes. Students learn the basic physiology of muscles, the location of major muscles and muscle groups and skeletal anatomy, equine basic neurology, equine rehabilitation theory and practice and principles of tack assessment and gait analysis. Students will also learn to be aware of the specific conditions which may affect the horse if those muscle groups become strained, pulled, sore, tense, tired or not adequately nourished through blood and lymphatic circulation. Legal considerations and correct record keeping are also covered.
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 is helpful to have some background knowledge of massage it is certainly not mandatory. The Equissage Europe Certification Programme 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 administer equine massage in an effective, therapeutic and professional manner.
How long will it take to become certified by Equissage Europe as an ESMT? Where is the training conducted?
Equissage Europe’s certification programme consists of five days intensive classroom study and individualised practical application. Class sizes are limited to a maximum of 8. There is a pre course pack distributed on registration which students are expected to study for approxiamtely 50 hours prior to starting the 5 day course.
 Venues currently offered are:
Norfolk, Kimblewick Equestrian Centre,N.Tuddenham
N.Yorkshire,Catterick Garrison Saddle Club
Hampshire, Inadown Fram Livery, Newton Valence
Wiltshire, Tidworth Equestrian Centre
 For details of accommodation please contact Equissage Europe
What kind of Income can I expect as an ESMT?
The amount you charge will depend on where you are working. On average a minimum of £40 -£70 is suggested for a session, lasting approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. As a professional it is up to you to set your fees- often the initial assessment and massage will last longer as you will have many questions to answer, so you may wish to charge more for the first appointment and then a set lower fee for follow up massages.
What is the Cost of the programme?
Exclusive of your travel costs and accommodation, the cost of the Equissage Europe ESMT certification programme for 2017 is £850 for group classes and £950 for private tuition inclusive of tax. Course costs for 2018 is £900 for group courses and £1000 for private tuition. Reductions of 10% are available for military personnel and their spouses. For more information contact us.
The fee includes all books, materials and tuition. A £150 non refundable booking fee is required on enrolment, this includes The How To Manual of Sports Massage for the Equine Athlete and the pre course notes. 
Terms and Conditions: We often have a waiting list for courses therefore all group course cancellations received with less than 4 weeks notice to commencement date will be charged at £400 as it is too short notice to fill your cancelled booking. Cancellations with more than 4 weeks notice will be able to transfer to any group course with spaces available within 1 calender year.
As a graduate of Equissage Europe’s ESMT Certification Programme, may I use the name in marketing my practice?
No, Equissage is a copyrighted name and cannot be used in the name you select for your business; however, you may advise your client that you are a graduate of the Equissage Europe School and that you are a certified ESMT.
Code of Conduct?

Every member of the I.A.A.M.T (International Association of Animal Massage Therapists) and graduates of Equissage and its subsidiary schools, works in accordance within the associations’ strict ‘Code Of Conduct’, ensuring high levels of competence, skill and professionalism, serving the public with trust and confidence.

The following ‘Code of Conduct’ provides a framework for the Equine Massage Therapist to safely and effectively practice their work and treatment.

By working within this framework, members of the I.A.A.M.T seek to protect all parties involved in their work, with every member holding recognition, understanding, respect and duly abiding by the following agreements.

Every Member Of The I.A.A.M.T. agrees to:
1.            Obtain prior veterinary diagnosis and permission before the commencement of treatment under veterinary direction as appropriate to that countries legislation
2.            Treat all clients with care, consideration and professionalism
3.            Explain all treatment procedures and techniques in a clear and understandable manner
4.            Respect all confidential information and work in accordance with current data legislation
5.            Work within their own recognised level of competence and, where appropriate, refer clients to another appropriate practitioner(s)
6.            Never diagnose any medical condition, ailment or injury
7.            Never make any guarantees as to the outcome of any treatment
8.            Refer the horse back to its veterinary surgeon should they suspect any negative medical condition, ailment or injury
9.            Never undertake any other form of manipulative therapy other than sports and rehabilitation Massage Therapy and routine free and assisted stretches
10.          Never use any medical device during their treatment of the horse
11.          Never use any other mechanical device during their treatment of the horse
12.          Every massage therapist will adhere to, and, work under their 'Duty of Care' and hold relevant insurance in order to protect themselves, their clientele and members of the public


Instructor Helen Woolley
Helen Woolley was born in Cambridgeshire, UK in 1969. She graduated from the Queen Elizabeth School of Physiotherapy in 1990 and worked in the N.H.S. for many years, specialising in Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics. Helen went on to work for the army as a Chartered Physiotherapist before moving into Private Practice firstly in the UK then in Germany.
Helen’s interest in horses developed after working at an army polo stables in Germany and then at the Paderborn Equestrian Centre.
On a posting to the United States she was fortunate enough to train with Mary Schreiber, qualify as an Equine Sports Massage Therapist and become a member of the International Association of Animal Massage Therapists.
She has worked at yards in Kentucky, USA and Germany, assessing and treating many types of sports horse, including polo ponies, dressage horses, racehorses and three-day-event horses.
Helen also co-ordinated the Rheindahlen and Elmpt Special Needs Riding Group.
Helen continues to practice as a Chartered Physiotherapist combining this with treating horses and teaching Equissage. She is also a qualified Chartered Physiotherapists in Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding qualification. (Hippotherapy)
Equissage Founder Mary Schreiber
Mary Schreiber is the founder of Equissage, Americas leading training organisation devoted to muscle rehabilitation and fulfilling the potential in the equine athlete. As a pioneer of equine sports massage therapy, she has appeared on ABC’s Health Show and in leading equine publications around the world. For her achievements she was recognised with a listing in the Who’s Who of Executives and Professionals.
Selecting a Certification Programme-why Equissage Europe?
When selecting an equine Sorts Certification Programme, make sure you check the credentials of anyone offering such a course. Some questions you should ask are:
How many articles have appeared about either the course you are considering or the course founder?
How many books or videos on equine massage the founder has authored?
How many veterinarians have chosen to enrol in that programme or school?
What are the average earnings of a graduate of the programme and how many graduates are there?
What support does their Governing body provide
Equissage Europe is the only recognised Equissage course outside the United States of America supported by Mary Schreiber. 
A number of International Graduates of the Equissage Programme have been selected as official massage therapists for their country’s Olympic equestrian teams.