Massage and Chiropractics: Which Comes First?
By Educational Partner: Bev Brady of MNHA Equine Body Balancing-Massage School
What is the difference in Massage and Chiropractic?
Massage is manipulation of the soft tissue, the muscles of the horse.
Massage can be done by a Certified Equine Massage Therapist in most states. There is no licensing involved. Some states do require it, and other states require your to be a vet to do it. Most classes are short for the Certification being anywhere from 3-10 days. Most are taught by others who have worked in the field and opened their own School with their own method of Massage. There is no governing body for the Equine Massage profession right now, so it’s best to do your homework on the instructor and the school to be sure you’ll get a good education. Everyone teaches something different.
Chiropractic is manipulation of the skeleton/bones/joints of the horse.
Chiropractic is only allowed by Licensed Veterinarians or Human Chiropractic Doctors who have taken courses through 2 main Certification Courses in the USA. Either the AHVMA or the AVCA. This is within the Scope of Practice, in every state (except Wyoming) for a Veterinarian or Human Chiropractic Doctor only. No layperson should be working as a ‘chiro’ on any animal, and certainly not ever teaching it. Manipulation of the bones can have serious consequences for your animal if done incorrectly by an unlicensed, untrained person.
Which comes first?
Massage definitely comes first. Many people only use a chiropractor for their animals though. Then they wonder why the adjustment never holds. The reason is that the muscles that are in spasm are actually what is pulling the bones out of alignment! Doing Equine Massage Therapy loosens up the spasms and soreness and in most cases will ‘allow’ the bones/skeleton to go back to their proper position on their own, or with some simple stretches. Massage will also help the adjustment to ‘stay’ longer on your horse! Horses, even in heavy work, shouldn’t need more than 2-3 adjustments per year, unless they have an injury.