This is a rather large site with lots of information in various areas. If you are new to the site, I would recommend that you read this page first – it is the course information page for the 6 day equine massage course, then move onto the FAQ’s section of the site (the link is located at the top left side of the page). There you will find many answers to questions others have asked about the 6 day course.
From there, please visit the ‘course dates’ section at the top of the page. Please note that this area is divided into massage, the extended massage course and vertebral realignment. There you will find all the dates of the classes that are offered across Canada.
From here, the ‘course locations’ tab has all the course locations on individual tabs and when they are clicked, another page will open that has all the information regarding the facility that is hosting the course, along with directions.
The application form itself is a source of information too! It can be accessed by clicking on the ‘application form” tab. From here, click on the application form – in the blue colored link.
All registrants are required to submit the application and waiver forms via either mail or scanned and e-mailed.
Explore and enjoy the site! If you have any questions that are not covered here or on the FAQ page, please feel free to e-mail (best way to reach me) or call and leave a message on the answering service.
Looking for a therapist in your area? Click the link below for our national registry.
Approximately 60% of a horse’s total body weight is comprised of muscle and tendons. This musculature system is directly involved in locomotion and movement. Tension and spasms obstruct or prevent optimal movement and will cause problems in the horse’s performance. Healthy, spasm free, fully extensible muscle tissue is less prone to injury. As homeopathic and natural remedies are quickly becoming the choice for injuries, massage has emerged in the forefront of modalities used, as its benefits are profound, and almost instantly a difference can be observed as the horse will begin to move more easily.
How Are Muscles Injured?
A blow to the muscle
- Ill fitting tack
- Over stretching
- Lack of stretching prior to an event
- over training
- Cooling down or warming up too quickly
- Result of poor or stressful conformation
- Forging, while trying to save itself from a fall
- Collisions with other horses
- Imbalanced rider
- Playing in the paddock
What Does Massage Do?
- Relaxation and relief of spasm
- Increases drainage of lymph – most effective work in lower limb swelling reduction
- Increases drainage of lactic acid, the prominent cause of fatigue
- Improve joint mobility
- Increases circulation in all systems – profound aspect of massage – can also be used to increase circulation to the hoof for horses that have: laminitis (48 hours after onset), navicular, abscess, general heat in hoof
- Improves flexibility and suppleness
- Decreases recovery time in injuries
- Reduction of toxic build up
- Increased tissue elasticity which allows for greater extension
- Increases or relaxes muscle tone
- Increases range of motion
- promotes peristalsis – movement of the gut – profound results have been reached in the relief of colic
- Reduces adhesions/scar tissue and restores extensibility of muscle fibers
- Assists in respiration, digestion and elimination
- Can improve mental attitude, as pain is dramatically reduced
Goals of Massage Therapy:
- To increase blood and lymphatic circulation
- To allow for full painless contraction of muscles
- To allow for full muscular and joint extensibility
- To improve the quality of life by decreasing pain and inflammation caused by injury and arthritis
- To enhance athletic performance
- To build stronger, suppler muscles that will be less prone to injury from strain
- To decrease recovery time between events
- To allow the horse to develop a smooth gait
- To deepen the bond between horse and rider
What is Taught:
Safety protocol. How do we approach a horse, and how do we stay safe while working with the horses.
We all get far too comfortable working around our own horses (me too!), but when working with a new client, we need to exercise more caution, and adhere to safety principles in order to avoid injury to ourselves, or our horses. Certainly, the safety protocol should be used at all times – whether working with a horse that we know well, or one that we have just met!
Massage theory, principles of massage, massage manipulations, and their applications and effects on various systems.
The manipulations of massage, their proper names, and how each movement is unique.
I teach over 20 various movements – the more movements we have, the more versatility we have in our approach to soft tissue manipulation.
I teach 4 different massage techniques – not just Swedish massage. As an RMT, I have taken multiple courses in soft tissue release techniques, and have also learned through 24 years of experience and work with soft tissue. I have transposed these techniques to work with the horses effectively and most of all – safely!
The phases of injury, how to spot them and how massage is administered based on the phase of injury.
Hydrotherapy uses and applications. When to use heat or cold, and various ways that we can administer heat or cold.
Equine anatomy: skeletal system and 30 major muscles, common landmarks
Contraindications: or when we should exercise caution during a massage. This is a very important segment of this course as we need to learn when it may not be safe to work with a horse-either their safety or ours!
Palpation procedures: how to correctly approach a horse, and how to gain greater muscle relaxation during a treatment, various common injuries and how to spot them quickly. How to assess muscle tissue and determine if it is the causation of the issue at hand.
Lower limb swelling reduction/ increase circulation techniques: a huge asset to learn to help your horse whether they have sustained an injury to the lower limb
Colic relief:. I developed this technique in 2007 after one of my horses cribbed herself into a colic. We did/do have banamine on site at all times, but I wanted to try to help my horse without drugs. Within 20 minutes of work, the bout of colic was over – sure beats walking the horse for hours! I have shared this technique with my students, and have received much positive feedback on the swiftness of relief (if caught early). A special mention has to go out my mom ‘Mamma Body” as she taught me how to deal with a bad tummy when I was a little girl. This was the basis for the development of my technique!
Assessment: or how we find out where we need to focus our attention to have the horse gain the most benefit from the massage. This is an integral part of this course as it is important to learn and understand which areas to focus our massage time!
Stretches, stretches and more stretches. This is the cornerstone of muscle extensibility, without which the horse cannot reach its full potential. Some stretches have been developed by me and are unique to this course. Stretches should allow for: the safety of the therapist, safety of the animal, allow for as complete a stretch as possible for the animal – in that particular order. Our safety and the safety of the animal come first!
An exclusive aspect of equine massage is included in this course!!
Advanced massage techniques. This area of the course addresses behaviour issues as a direct correlation to physical pain. This area is a compilation of different human massage courses that I have taken, along with my many years of experience as a human RMT. I experimented with various techniques, and found a safe way to carry out the work. The horse’s responses were amazing! As many of the treatments are designed by me, specifically tailored to work with horses, it gives this area of the course an exclusive area of information that is not taught in any other course.
In this area of study we will be looking at specific problems that relate to specific behaviour along with looking at their conformation, resistance issues, refusals both under saddle and ground work we can formulate a plan, allow the horse’s input and give them relief through massage.
This area of study has yielded the highest pain relief results that I have ever used, and I am so very pleased to bring this aspect of care to this course.
Do I receive a Certificate?
At the conclusion of the course graduates receive their certificate, receipt, and take home their copy of the equine massage manual for future reference.
At the conclusion of the course, the graduates may then call themselves a
“Certified Equine Massage Therapist”
Grads may open a practice and charge for their services in any province in Canada.
What is the cost of the course?
Please see the section at the top of the page under ‘course costs’ as the GST/HST various from province to province.
Do I have to bring my own horse? or May I bring my own horse?
No, the facilities I book already have the required number of horses, so you do not need to bring your horse.
If you choose to bring your horse, you must contact the facility owner directly and make arrangements. Some facilities do not allow other horses onto the property as they have a closed herd, while others may require vaccination paperwork and a Coggin’s Test. This is between you and the facility. Each course location page will indicate if people may or may not bring horses onto the property. A ‘closed herd’ indicates that no other horses may come onto the property.
If you do bring your horse, you must bring sufficient hay either for the entire course (7 days), or enough to mix with the facility’s supply as we do not wish for any horses to develop colic from a change in feed.
Is there homework for this course?
Yes, there is homework!
Once a person has registered for a course, then the pass codes are given to the person for the ‘homework log in’. This is an opportunity to prepare for the course, so the sooner a person registers for a course, the more time to study!!
The course homework takes approx. 20 hours to complete.
Should I buy an equine massage book?
No, please do not purchase an equine massage book for this class. I equate learning how to massage from a book to learning the Irish Jig from reading a dance manual. It may be done, but it won’t be done correctly, and the result won’t be pretty!
Massage is more than just rubbing a muscle. It requires technique, regulated pressure, rate, learning cues from the horses as they respond to the work, and of course, our own posture! All of these nuances cannot be learned from a book.
If people wish to purchase massage books after this course, I do support it – the more knowledge the better!
Do you recommend any books on anatomy?
Yes, I highly recommend a couple of books:
Illustrated Atlas of Clinical Equine Anatomy and Common Disorders of Horse Volume One, Riegel, Hakola. This is an excellent book that has won awards for illustration, reference text and education.
Horse Anatomy A coloring Atlas, Kainer, McCracken A really nicely illustrated book with lots of facts.
Clinical Anatomy of the Horse, Clayton, Flood, Rosenstein. This book is a dissection of the horse and lists the anatomy of the horse. As this is a dissection volume, please be aware that it is graphic.
I am a big fan of Hilary M. Clayton. she has written many books and I have been impressed with her ability to convey an idea clearly, no matter the subject matter.
There is a web site: http://www.horsebooksetc.com that has a great selection at excellent prices.
There are 3 written tests, along with oral testing in the barn for landmarks, bones, muscles, technique, assessments and posture.
Not to panic!! I am extremely fair when it comes to testing. Whether you are taking this course as a career, or if you want to learn how to help your own horses, testing in this course is all about what you have learned, what you may need to work on a bit, or have I done my job by explaining and demonstrating a particular part of the course in a way that every student is able to understand. I have a balance between the written tests and the hands on work. The balance is set at 80-20. 80% is based on hands on work and 20% for written tests. A person can get perfect on every test, but not do as well in the hands on portion and needs a bit more help or vice versa. Ultimately, it is about the work with the horses that counts! A horse does not care if you can say the word “brachiocephalicus”, but he does want you to be able to work on this muscle correctly!
Who takes this course?
This course is not just for people wanting to start a new career!
Owners who wish to learn more about how they can help their horses be more comfortable, perform better, or help an older horse with their aches and creaks. All our working horses are athletes, whether they are in competition, trail riding, or just the occasional pleasure hack, and as such, they can sustain injuries.
We have seen some truly amazing results in the racing industry with horses that have regular massage based on a program which is taught in this class. The 2011 Queen’s Plate winner ‘Inglorious’ received 2 massages for the first time in her life (by one of my grads) one week prior to the race – again based on a program set out in this course.
This course can teach you how to work with your horse to increase performance, smooth out that bumpy gait (due to injury and/or muscle tension), deal with injuries by opening circulation and allowing swelling an exit route and also bringing nutrient rich blood to the area to promote healing, learn how ‘behavioral issues’ may indeed be a horse telling you clearly that they are in pain and the most beneficial result of all – a deeper bond with your horse!
Is there an age requirement?
Yes, the minimum age for this course is 16 or turning 16 in the calendar year. At times I have allowed 15 year olds to take the course, but they must at some point: have been involved in Pony Club, 4-H, Rodeo or Jumping Circuit etc., and must have a full recommendation from a parent/guardian. Good grades in school are also an asset, but the horse experience is what truly counts, along with the parent/guardian’s assent.
Are there any prerequisites?
No, there are no educational prerequisites for this course. As each person will have a different level of horse experience and education, there is no minimum for this course.
There is however, homework. The homework is the prerequisite for this course. Please do sign up early if you have decided to take this course so you can have lots of time to study!
On average, the homework takes approximately 20 hours for most people to get comfortable with muscle names, but each person is different in their personal study habits and ability to uptake information.
In 2008, I started the ‘homework log in’ section of the site. Prior to this date, there was no homework, so please do not let this deter you from joining a course if the one you would like to take is offered soon.
The safety protocol homework is common sense information. Whether people have horse experience or are new to horses, or returning to horses, it is a good way to prepare to be really safe in the barn.
The homework also includes muscles, bones and massage terminology.
How much hands-on time is there in this course?
We do hands-on work with the horses for approximately 70% of the of the course or about 36 hours.
Both the theory and the hands-on work are equally important, as we need to understand why we massage in a particular way, and how we would approach a horse with a plan based on the condition of the soft tissues. Students need to learn how to physically massage a horse, and this can only be accomplished in the barn! For this reason, we are massaging horses on the first day of class!
What are the class times?
Each class is from 8am-5pm each day.
On our first day, please be at the facility no later than 7:45am.
The last day of the course will be shorter and will be concluded no later than noon.
What is the course schedule?
Please visit the FAQ page for the complete schedule.
What is your class size?
This is dependent on the number of horses a facility has to provide. I try to limit the number of students to 20; however, from time to time this number may be slightly more if the facility has a larger number of horses and has the proper set up for a larger class. The minimum (not maximum) number of students is 6.
Are lunches provided?
Lunches are not provided.
A refrigerator will be made available for storage, so please do bring a lunch as some of the facilities are quite remote and there are no restaurants nearby.
Coffee, tea, water and snacks (the infamous ‘junk food bin’) will be provided for all students.
When should I register for a course?
You may register for a course at any time either on line or via mail. The sooner you register for a class, the more time you will have to study the homework.
Although I would prefer to teach a small class to not at all, there must be a minimum number of 6 students registered for the course for it to move forward.
If you know that you want to take the course – don’t procrastinate!
Please click on the ‘application form’ button and follow the directions.
Is there a cut off time to register for a course?
No, you may register for a course at any time – even the day before a course is to begin. The advantage of registering early is the opportunity to learn the homework.
How do I register for a course? Can I make an on line payment with Visa/MC?
Click on the “application form” button at the top of the page.
There are three options for payment:
A) Mailed in application form. Go to the top of this page, and click on the ‘application forms’ tab. A page will open directing you to the application form along with a waiver/release form. Fill out both of these forms fully, and send them along with payment to the address provided.
B) Make an on line payment using the PayPal service by going to the ‘application forms’ section of the site and clicking on the PayPal service. Please be sure to read both the “on line banking policy” (located on the “application form page”) and the “refund policy and terms and conditions” (located at the bottom of the web site) as by making an on line payment you agree to this policy.
C) On line banking. You may add my e-mail address as a ‘payee’ with your on line banking institution and make an interace e-transfer. The e-mail address to use for this transaction is: email@example.com
The application form must be filled out and sent either by mail or by scanning and sending via e-mail.
As soon as your registration is confirmed, you will receive an e-mail and will be given the access code for the ‘homework log in’ on this web site.
If you have not received confirmation, please contact me via e-mail.
You will receive a receipt, along with my GST # on the last day of the course.
If you have joined the class at the last minute, please note that I do not accept Visa/Mastercard at the course. You may either make an on line payment or bring cash or money order in the full amount on the first day of class (no cheques are accepted). Money orders are made payable to: Sidonia McIntyre
If I have made a payment on line, do I have to fill out an application form?
Yes, if you have made an on line payment, you will need to fill out the application form along with the waiver/release form. Both of these forms are located under the ‘application forms’ button. Fill out and mail to the address on the application form or scan and e-mail.
How do I know where a class is to be held?
Go to the top of the page and click on ‘course locations’. A scroll down bar will appear. Scroll to the course location you are interested in attending, then click on the location. Another page will appear with directions to the facility and on most pages suggested accommodations. Please be sure to print this page for your directions.
My directions are accurate!
Can I reserve a spot in the course on line or with a phone call?
If you wish to e-mail me and reserve a spot in a course, you may do so while your application is en route. I do not save spots for longer than 7 business days.
If you have chosen to reserve your spot, please submit your application immediately. This is a courtesy for people committed to taking the course. In the case of a class which is filling, you may lose your place if your application has not been received within 7 business days, (we feel this is a fair and equitable amount of time for applications to make it across the country) and there is no answer to my messages via either e-mail or telephone, so please submit your application if you have asked me to hold your spot. If you have mailed your application, and you have not received your confirmation call or e-mail, please contact me immediately!
How do I know a class is confirmed?
It should be presumed that all classes are moving forward, so be prepared to come to class. You may certainly contact me to confirm if a course is moving forward. The deposits will be forfeit for no shows!
I make a decision 2 weeks prior to a course start date. People must register for a course and there must be no less than 6 registrants in a course in order for a course to move forward. If you wish to attend a course, then please do sign up early.
If a class is to be cancelled, I will e-mail 2 weeks prior to the course start date to cancel if there are less than the required 6 registrants at that time.
If the number of registrants falls below 6 at any time, a course may be cancelled.
If a course is cancelled, all monies are returned in their entirety.
On line payments are returned via PayPal or bank transfer – the same method as the payment was received.
Please read the “refund policy, terms and conditions” page located on the bottom of the site page for the full policy.
Please be sure to check your e-mails prior to the course! If I know of a problem (outbreak) on a facility, any construction issues or any new information becomes available I will e-mail everyone to inform them of an issue.
What do I need to bring with me to the course?
A hat and sunscreen (for working outside – weather permitting)
Fly spray in the summer is a good idea for yourself
A cushion to sit on as I provide stools and they can get quite uncomfortable
A more comfortable chair – the collapsible chairs are quite popular
Steel toed footwear is not mandatory – but highly recommended
Weather smart clothing
Please be sure to be up to date with your tetanus shot. In barns there are plenty of rusty surfaces and nips can also occur.
You may bring a camera with you on the last day for group pictures, but no video taping or pictures of maneuvers during the course is permitted
Everything you need is provided: pens, pencils, highlighter, paper and the course manual.
The only thing that you need to bring with you is an open mind that is ready to learn!!
What clothing should I wear?
Wear weather appropriate clothing, bring a hat and sunscreen, and if you have them, steel toed shoes.
In the winter, dress in layers, bring hot pads for hands and feet – in short, be prepared to work in the barn.
We should never handle our own horses after the class prior to changing our clothing, disinfecting our boots and washing ourselves thoroughly as well.
2008 was a big year for strangles, influenza and rhinovirus. Extra precautions should be taken: wear coveralls if you have them, then remove them at the facility and place them in a large garbage bag along with footwear before entering your vehicle. Shower (including hair) prior to handling your own horses, or touching your dogs or cats either (as they can literally carry the virus into the barn). Irregardless of an outbreak in a barn, we should always use extra caution!
What is the best way to reach you if I have a question?
E-mail is the best way to reach me – the internet never sleeps!
As I am traveling, I may be in a different time zone than you. When I return calls after the course is done for the day it may be quite late by the time a phone call can be returned.
You may e-mail me through the ‘contact’ section of this web site located at the top of the page.
Do you offer on-line instruction?
As I stated above, I do not believe that massage can be learned from a book, neither do I believe that massage can be learned on-line. We can learn facts, anatomical landmarks, muscles, anatomy and physiology, but we cannot learn the art of massage without an instructor’s help. Equine anatomy can be learned from books and does not require on line instruction.
I have been asked this question a lot in the last couple of years, and as I business person, I could have created a program for people to do this course on line. But, my primary goal is to help the horses. I do not feel that massage can be learned from a book – the nuances are easily missed. I made the decision to keep working with people face to face, to have the ability to let people test their pressure on me in order to get feedback, to watch them as they work so that I can help them with catching cues that the horse is clearly giving as they work, to help the students in maintaining correct posture so they do not sustain injuries. None of these things can be accomplished with an on line course, then getting together every now and again to monitor the student’s progress. Catching a problem at the onset of learning also aids people so that they do not learn bad habits. I have made this statement in most of my classes: “Massage is not rocket science, but, the art of massage is rocket science”. Because I respect the power of massage, I have made the decision to only teach this course as it stands- person to person.
Do you teach individual or private classes?
No, I do not teach private classes for individuals. The class minimum size is 6. If there is a group of people that would like to book a class (usually for the following year), then please feel free to contact me and we can discuss adding a class!
Do you offer group discounts?
No, I do not offer group discounts. This is a certification course, and every person pays the same fee.
If I take both the massage and VR courses, do I receive a discount?
As stated above, everyone pays the same fee. The massage and VR courses are totally different courses and although the two techniques go hand in hand very well, they are still separate courses. The 5 week advanced massage course also includes the VR course.
Do you teach classes between November and March?
From time to time, I will offer a course in Ontario in the month of February, but generally, no, I do not teach between these months as I drive from one location to another. The weather in our beautiful country during these months can be quite volatile and dangerous for all. Besides, hubby and I do need to see each other for a few months!
Do you have a contact list for upcoming courses for the following year?
No, I do not have contact lists. Computers crash, viruses strike and lists can be lost. The best thing to do is to check with the site in November for the following year’s courses under the ‘course dates’ button at the top of this page.
What is your philosophy regarding working with horses?
In my opinion, doing this type of work is much easier if the horse is working in partnership. Partnership requires give and take from both parties. Yes, the horse may pin his ears or lift his leg to show discomfort, or as a warning, or as a defense mechanism. Or simply in response to a next door stall mate. It is up to us to work through this with the horse. This is where my philosophy regarding working with the horses comes into play. The horses have the right to indicate pain, they have the right to move during the massage, and I encourage the horses to engage with me often – this means that their attention is continually drawn to me during the massage – this keeps me safe as the horse is interested in what I am doing, is a willing participant and shows true partnership when they will actually show me the problem areas. The best source to ask where the area of issue is located is not the owner or veterinarian or farrier or saddle fitter or nutritionalist or whoever else has worked with the horse, but rather the horse.
I believe that one way horses communicate with us is through body language. As we cannot teach them how to actually talk using words, the task falls to us to learn their language. I practice natural horsemanship: request, respond, release. It is as simple and as complicated as those three words. I do believe in discipline, but the discipline comes in the form of pressure that requests the horse to respond; when they have responded appropriately, then they gain their release. Striking a horse is inappropriate and is not tolerated in this course – this also includes shanking (pulling aggressively on the shank with a sharp downward repetitive pressure). We cannot gain their trust in allowing us to work on areas of pain if the same hand that is working with the horse has just struck the horse. This leads to confusion, distrust and disengagement of the horse from the session which leads to us now having lost the primary source of information.
Physical signs of pain can be obvious or quite subtle, but they are there! Watching the horse for these signs helps guide us during the massage so we can better understand where the problem areas are located, and equally importantly, where they feel pleasure so we have areas to work that allow for a ‘cooling off’ from some work that can be uncomfortable. The horses are much easier to read when they are working with us rather than just standing there taking the massage whether they like it or not.
You do not have to know natural horsemanship to take this course, and you do not have to practice it either. If someone disregards all the information regarding natural horsemanship and can massage a horse without ever raising a hand, shanking, or any other means of inflicting pain/discomfort to the horse, then I have no quarrel with them.
What I can convey to you is that once I learned how the horses communicate with each other and I tried to ‘talk’ with my own horses and they started to ‘talk’ to me, it opened a whole new world and allowed me to explore the possibilities of mutual trust. I think that this is a vital aspect of physical care as I am asking the horses to show me where their pain is located, and allow me to work in this tender area. Any of you that have had that nasty knot in your shoulder and have had your massage therapist work it out know that massage is not all enjoyment and relaxation – it is sometimes very uncomfortable! This creation of trust with the horses allowed me to develop moves that I had previously done with my human clients only. Transposition of moves from human to horse was tricky and dangerous, but with trust and guidance from the horses, the moves became more fluid – and the best part – the horses got better, their movement and attitudes improved. What could be better than that?
My personal favorite natural horsemanship trainer is Clinton Anderson, but there are lots of people that practice this type of work and have put together videos, newsletters, magazines, and offer courses etc: Jonathan Fields, Pat and Linda Parelli, Dan James, Chris Lyons, Josh Lyons, and Monty Roberts, just to name a few.
My friends Jan, Dave and Lennox at the Jandanda Ranch in Pinantan Lake, BC regularly have clinics on natural horsemanship at their beautiful ranch.http://www.jandanaranch.com.
Feel free to google any of these people if you wish to learn more!
For those people that belong to associations that require continuing education, feel free to contact me and I can send in an application for CEUs to your association.
Below is a list of organizations that have accepted this program, along with the CEU rating.
If you belong to an association not listed, please feel free to contact me and I will contact the association and request a review.
Natural Health Practitioners of Canada ………………………………………. 5 CEU’s
MTWPAM (Massage Therapists’ and Wholistic Practitioners’ Association of the Maritimes) … 15 CEU’s
********************************************************************************************************Please click on the “FAQ’s” button next - it is located at the top of this page next to the ‘Home’ button. You will find answers to many questions that people have asked me about the course, regulations in Canada regarding the term ‘certified equine massage therapist’ etc. Please read this area prior to sending me an e-mail with a question.
Please be advised that the “Grad Log in” is for graduates of the program only. Once the equine massage program is completed by the student, then they will be given the log in information. Thank you!
The “Homework log in ” section also password protected; once a person has registered for a course with an application form and deposit, they will then be given the information to access this area.