Massaging Horse

Some states require state board licensing for these equine massage therapists to provide massage therapy to horses. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

A bill pending in the Nebraska legislature would exempt equine massage therapists from licensure in that state.

Equine massage therapists use massage techniques to help improve an animal’s range of motion and relieve tension. Some states require state board licensing for these individuals to provide massage therapy to horses.

Introduced by Sen. Mike Groene, Legislative Bill 596 (LB596) would amend the state’s Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practice Act to exempt equine massage therapists from being licensed by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Under current Nebraska law, equine massage therapists must either hold a veterinary medicine degree or complete 1,000 class hours to become a human massage therapist, as well as an additional 150-hour animal-focused class to earn a license to practice massage therapy on horses.

“We found that because of the onerous requirements Nebraska has set, there is not one single licensed equine massage therapist in Nebraska,” said Groene in a written statement.

Some of the bill’s opponents believe licensing helps ensure horses are not harmed by nonlicensed therapists who might not have proper education credentials or overlook underlying health issues. Meanwhile, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) opposed LB596 when it was introduced but has now taken a neutral view of it, said Ron Precht, AMTA senior communications manager.

Still, Jonathan Rudinger of the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork (IAAMB) believes Groene’s bill is long overdue.

“There have been turf wars over this all over the country, but we’re not interfering with (veterinarians’) practice,” Rudinger said. “Equine massage therapy is about manipulating tissue, and owners do that every time they groom their horses.”

LB596 remains pending in the Nebraska Legislature.