Becoming a Certified Equine Therapist

Horses are magnificent animals that bring joy into people’s lives. That is why many people enjoy working with them by helping to perform massage therapies on a horse. However, those who want to become equine therapists must understand and meet the educational, certification, and training requirements. 

This post is going to explain what an equine therapist is, the skills they need, and how to become one.

What Is an Equine Therapist?

An equine therapist is a person who works with horses in order to help them recover and heal from injuries, muscular pains, or other physical issues. These professionals use their knowledge and experience in equine care, massage, and physical therapy to help take care of the horses when they are in pain. Typically, they will work with active horses like racehorses or show horses to treat and diagnose different injuries and use the correct rehabilitative techniques. 

What Does an Equine Therapist Do?

People can usually find equine therapists at horse farms, stables, or racetracks because this is where they typically must provide check-ups for the horse and take care of any injuries that have been sustained due to physical activity. Also, they can work alongside horse owners, farmers, and veterinarians to help discover any medical issues the horse may have. Afterward, the equine therapist can perform the correct physical therapy on the horse, so that they can heal. 

Some of the typical jobs an equine therapist has are:

  • Visiting multiple farms, stables, or tracks to carry-out routine check-ups. 
  • After diagnosis, being able to treat a horse.
  • Perform healing procedures like hot and cold manual therapies, neuromuscular exercise, therapeutic ultrasounds, and electrical stimulation. 
  • Use massage therapies on horses in order to increase blood circulation and decrease pain. 
  • Formulating exercise programs so that the horse can improve its range of motion and core stabilities. 
  • Watching how the rider mounts and rides the horse to see if they can do anything differently to help the horse. 

The Skills of an Equine Therapist

Equine therapists need to have a solid and in-depth knowledge of biology, anatomy, and health science, so they can better diagnose specific health problems or injuries that horses do commonly have. Also, it can be helpful to have experience caring and riding because this can help the therapist determine any abnormalities if there are any. Additionally, the therapist needs to be calm and relaxing, so the horse does not feel anxious while being treated. 

Other common skills an equine therapist need is:

  • Empathy, compassion, and patience
  • Listening and interpersonal abilities
  • Pay close attention to detail
  • Knowledgeable in medical terminology
  • Stay calm under pressure
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Written and verbal communication skills

How to Become an Equine Therapist

Equine therapy is a relatively new profession, so only a few schools in the country have a certified program. Some schools have introduced relevant programs for those who want to pursue equine therapy in the future. Along with certification, many programs offer experience in the field, so students can stand out amongst other applications when looking for a job. 

Receive a Bachelor’s Degree

Have a look at which universities and colleges offer a bachelor’s degree in equine therapy. Many have programs in equine studies, which teach people how to care for and manage horses. Another option is to complete an undergraduate program in veterinary technology. This will prepare people to work with horses and other large animals. 

The types of courses in the course are:

  • Comparative anatomy
  • Animal physiology
  • Large animal management
  • Emergency care
  • Advanced pathology techniques
  • Equine care

Receive a Certification

All people who want to become equine therapists need to have an equine rehabilitation therapy certification. Within this program, people learn the fundamentals of giving rehabilitation to horses. This is also where people can study regulatory issues, equine anatomy, neurological issues, gait analysis, and lameness evaluation. 

Additionally, this certification teaches people about different therapy techniques like heating and cooling therapies, ultrasound treatments, and wave therapies. Other pain relief methods and when to use these treatments on horses are also looked at. Many certification programs have opportunities for in-classroom learning and out in the field experience

Having a mix of both classroom and field learning allows people to better understand the different therapies and different medical or surgical options, joint or ligament therapy, and neurological evaluation. 

Complete on-the-Job Training

After completing the educational journey, it is time to receive training while working. This is where therapists can put their knowledge to practice while working at a stable, farm, or racetrack. Many equine therapists either pursue an entry-level role or an internship so that they can gain relevant experience. 

These opportunities are a great way to fully understand the job role in the field and gain practical knowledge and experience. This can also help therapists decide if this is the right choice for them before they end up committing to a full-time role. 

Furthering One’s Education

There are always ways to further one’s education, and one way to do that is by pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. This degree teaches people the basic physical therapy techniques that are usually used on humans so that they can then transfer this knowledge to horses or larger animals. Therapists will end up learning about anatomy, neurology, patient management, tissue trauma, orthopedics, manual therapy, and cardiopulmonary studies. 


Many people want to become equine therapists. It is essential that they are comfortable and familiar with horses, so they can give them the proper care and treatment that they need. Also, some degrees can be completed before certification that is specifically about equine therapy. However, those that have degrees in mental health psychotherapy or therapy can use their degrees as a way to help them complete their certification. 

It is essential that people who wish to become equine therapists follow the appropriate steps. This will ensure that they are board-certified and that they can heal and care for the horses properly. 

REST: Because it works

It’s time to put REST into your life. And take advantage of all of the benefits equine motion has to offer any time, any place. At Gait, we firmly believe it will be a powerful, rewarding, and effective tool for helping treat your special needs child, children, or adult.


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