There are many choices out there today when it comes to deciding from where you will get your equine massage education. As this kind of alternative health care for animals grows in popularity the choices for obtaining an education in the field seem to be expanding almost exponentially. How do you decide which program to chose?

Here are a few things to consider when making the choice:

What kind of time do you have to devote to learning this new skill before you want to begin a practice? Many people are looking for a way to make extra money while keeping their current job. Others have lost their jobs due to the unstable economy and are looking for a job whereby they can work for themselves and never know the pain of someone else controlling their income again. Some people are stay-at-home moms with a family to consider while others are high school graduates with all kinds of time to devote to their vocation.

You can spend anywhere from one weekend to multiple weeks or even 2 years worth of weekends obtaining your equine massage education. You need to choose a school that fits your time needs.

School fees can vary widely for no apparent reason. The cost does not always dictate the quality of education you will get. This is where it gets tricky. You really are going to have to investigate this one. Take into consideration everything the school is offering for the price. For example, are books or some kind of a printed curriculum included? What about meals? Lodging? Transportation? The list can go on so be sure you are comfortable with the cost vs. value in the horse massage school you choose.

Where do you want to spend your time receiving this education? There are many beautiful schools across the United States that offer classes in horse massage.  You should choose a location that you can afford as well as a location where you know you will be comfortable.  School locations can range from extremely rural to extremely urban; the spectrum is quite varied.  You might not want to be stuck out in the middle of the boonies with no cell service in a rundown farmhouse with people you have never met in your life! Then again, this might be exactly your cup of tea! Investigate it thoroughly because there is definitely an equine massage school for everybody.

Be sure you understand who your instructors will be. Read up on them. Learn their education as much as you can. Here’s another tricky topic: just because the instructors may have oodles of letters behind their names, they are not necessarily able to explain what you need to know. Sometimes the best teachers/coaches/trainers in life are not the ones who know it all or have done it all. The best educators are the ones who have a burning passion for what they do and ALSO a keen awareness of various ways to impart the information to you and can connect with YOU.   One excellent way to know if an instructor is right for you is to be able to speak with them ahead of time. A phone call can be worth its weight in gold! Connect with the actual instructor(s); do not assume that speaking with the assistant, receptionist or spouse of an instructor is good enough.

Some school websites will also tell you that your instructors should have written articles or books to be valid. The same principle applies. While books and articles are an excellent thing to be able to tout, they don’t always mean the instructor can teach what they know.

Equine massage schools can offer you a certification if you have taken as little as 16 hours of class up to 2200 hours of class. Currently there is not a national standard in this industry. Equine bodywork legal requirements vary from state to state. So a certification from any school or program at this point is merely a certificate of attendance. However, the more hours you attend, the chances are the more educated you are. Does this necessarily make you a good equine bodyworker? Maybe, maybe not; but, the industry is making efforts to unify and you are even able to become nationally certified through the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) once you have acquired 200 hours or more of equine massage education. If you truly are concerned with the world at large having respect for what equine bodyworkers do, it would be most appropriate for you to attempt to obtain the National Certification in order to bring harmony and credibility to the practice. You do not have to get all 200 hours of education through one horse massage school. Once again, you can still become an equine massage/ bodywork therapist without having a national certification. However, you will want to have a certificate of attendance from whatever school you chose in the event that a prospective client should ask.

Your Purpose
Knowing what you want to do with the education you are seeking is a key element. Do you want to start your own horse massage practice? What type of massage or bodywork are you interested in? Are you looking to improve your ability to care for your own horses? Do you have prior experience with horses or are you completely green to horses and this sounds fun and interesting? Do you already do bodywork or massage with horses and you are looking to increase your knowledge? Are you the type who thrives on large quantities of head knowledge and technicalities, or are you one who prefers to learn the art form of the craft and are more kinesthetically inclined?

All these questions should be answered so that you can narrow down the list of schools or programs that are right for you. Each school offers different elements which tend to satisfy different types of people. Figure out the what and why of your desire to embark on this field and then research your options with these answers in mind.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. There are even more things you may consider as you embark upon choosing the best equine massage school for you. The main point is, don’t enter into a school without knowing enough to set your heart at ease. Once you feel you’ve answered most of these questions the choice will start to become clear and you can begin on a path to an experience that you will likely enjoy immensely.