I have been far too busy to post anything recently – for the past couple of months I’ve been working six days most weeks just to keep up! And now I am going to be away on holiday until mid August.
This post is about general aspects of my job. Someone asked me the other day how I was able to build a business out of being a Horse Massage Therapist (she was new to the trade!).
Here are my thoughts:
Before you even start taking any cases you have to know a horse’s biomechanics inside out and back to front. If you don’t, you wont be able to give correct advice, which is one of the most important aspects of the job. You need to give accurate, helpful information to an owner so they can contribute to fixing their horse (eg with stretches, diet, supplements, etc). A sound knowledge of equine anatomy and the correct terminology is also essential when you need to refer a case to another therapist or a vet. Writing a decent report that is useful to a veterinary surgeon, yet can be understood by the horses owner (or groom) takes a lot a skill. You have to make it simple enough for the owner to understand yet use the technical terminology (what I call ‘vetspeak’!).
Pick up information from any and every source. In new cases, always listen to what the owner has to say about the horse’s general health, injury history, current state and behaviour – they probably know the horse best. Carefully read any vet’s reports, etc. Observe the horse’s trot-up closely (this skill can take years to acquire – after 25 years in the game I am still learning things!). And of course be empathetic when you are palpating – you need to feel what the horse is feeling as well as what you are feeling.
Another useful skill is to know your yards and check the weather the day before your visit. If horses usually live out overnight, you need to remind the owner to keep them in the night before a visit. Even my “magic fingers” don’t work on wet coats!
You need good logistics – as a ‘one man band’ you will need to arrange your visits geographically and work out good routes between yards. The aim is to fit in multiple yards that are close together, without wasting time and fuel.
Lastly and probably the most important thing: you need to be really passionate about horses and highly motivated to provide them with the best possible treatment. If you’re doing this for the money you should be doing something else!