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Are you an Animal Massage Therapist?

10 Jun 2021 8:23 PM | WSMTA (Administrator)

Hello WSMTA Community! My name is Aidan and I’m excited to be here. This is my first article, and hopefully with many more to come, I will be exploring and documenting the world of large animal massage. Specifically, we will be focusing on equine massage and bodywork – but I’m not saying only horses (and donkeys, mules, etc.), because if there’s a creature with four legs who weighs more than a Mastiff, we’re not going to rule them out of the discussion.

I am a life-long “horse girl” and a fairly new massage therapist. I graduated from the Port Townsend School of Massage in 2019 and worked in a chiropractic office for six months before everything went to hell in a hand basket, as my mother would say. I left my job at the chiropractic office, and the income from my other job gave me the freedom to do some massage career soul-searching. I knew one thing for certain – I really did not want to go back to working for someone else. When it came time to restart my work, it would be on my own. It was on a Zoom call with a former teacher that I realized what was next for me – a combination of my education and skills as a massage therapist, and my passion and love for horses. That conversation helped me realize that an equine-centered massage business felt exciting, inspiring, and fulfilling.

Most equine massage therapists only work on the animal, and not the rider. This is where I hope to come in an offer something a bit different – a service for both horses and riders. Unless you are an equestrian yourself, or you’ve ever spent significant time watching someone ride, you may not fully appreciate the physical relationship between a horse and rider. An instructor once summed up riding as “one unbalanced being on top of another unbalanced being, trying to be in balance,” and that really is about as succinct as it gets. The physical imbalances, limitations, injuries, strengths, and weaknesses of both horse and rider play off of each other constantly. The end goal is harmony, but we sometimes end up with what feels, and maybe looks, like disaster.

As massage therapists, we know that the desire to achieve a perfectly balanced body is idealistic and not realistic. An admirable goal, perhaps, but not a functional one. One rider with significant imbalances, who regularly rides several horses, will eventually have all horses going in the same compensatory way to offset their own imbalances. By creating a practice that works on both bodies, I believe I can help riders balance their equations with their horse.

In my next article I will be exploring some of the different modalities used by equine massage therapists, and what the licensure and governing bodies are in Washington State. If you have any specific questions or areas of interest that pertain to large animal massage, please send them over and I’ll work to cover them.

Aidan Sievertson,  LMT

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