New online massage course for horses and dogs

Equine massage helps relieve muscle tension and promote bonding. Yawning is an indication that this horse is relaxed and enjoying his massage.
Equine massage helps relieve muscle tension and promote bonding. Yawning is an indication that this horse is relaxed and enjoying his massage.

Online introductory courses in horse and dog massage open to animal owners around the world are being offered by a British therapist.

The new courses have been developed by Nikki Routledge MSc, a McTimoney Animal Practitioner, who has worked for 12 years as an animal therapist teaching her clients how to massage their horses and dogs.

massage1Routledge has produced the online courses to enable all horse and dog owners to learn more about assessing their own animals and to apply basic, effective massage.

The courses are delivered through access to online classrooms where videos and tutorials are available to students and there is the opportunity to ask questions and post videos for help with techniques.

Courses are each six weeks long and students have eight weeks total to complete, guided by tasks and notes given at the start of each week with a two-week period of consolidation at the end. Students enter an online classroom enabling them to ask questions and post back videos for assessment and feedback, as if they were in an actual classroom. Comments, questions and videos are not made public.

Applicants start with a basic six-week online massage course which teaches the essentials.

The level 1 equine and canine courses start on August 4, and cost  £40.

For those who wish to learn more, there are further courses to develop massage skills and knowledge on competition animals, and those who have long term injuries or conditions.

The McTimoney method was developed by the late John McTimoney in the 1950s when he modified his human technique to apply it specifically to animals. The method is taught only at the McTimoney College of Chiropractic in Abingdon, near Oxford, in Britain. It is well known for being a precise, whole body treatment.

massage2Routledge said there are times when an animal needs a professional to assess their condition and apply the necessary therapeutic treatment, “but there is a huge amount an owner can do as well”.

“I have had cases where I am sure the benefits of a daily gentle massage by the owner of an animal have improved the animal’s health and well-being beyond that expected,” she said.

Routledge has also introduced a module focusing on developing the bond between animal and owner, using her BSc (Hons) in Psychology.

“It was whilst learning about the social interactions studied between humans that I became more aware of how much of what we do influences how our animals respond,” Routledge said.

“That might sound rather obvious but when you can understand and apply the effects of attribution error for example, (that is the way we attribute reasons for behaviours in ourselves and others), it becomes clear that forming a secure trusting bond with our animals is paramount in developing a good relationship which can withstand those errors. And touch is such a powerful bonding mechanism that massage really does make a massive difference.”

Competition horses and dogs progressing up the levels will build up areas of tension where their work makes demands on their physical abilities to their limit. Similarly tension will develop when older animals are compensating for arthritic changes or other conditions. Promotion of blood supply through massage to these key areas increases comfort, reduces muscle fatigue and allows a return to full range of movement.

There are also strong indications of a psychological effect between masseuse and patient as massage results in a reduction in stress hormone levels and promotion of the bonding hormones, Routledge said. Touch has a strong influence on the nervous system, and massage is one way of releasing stress and tension.

To enrol, go to


3 thoughts on “New online massage course for horses and dogs

  • July 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    An innovative way to deliver a hands-on skill.
    Just to be absolutely clear though, this is a massage course and not anything to do with the McTimoney Method, chiropractic or any manipulation techniques, nor anything to do with the McTimoney College of Chiropractic.
    Well done to Nikki for putting together a readily accessible animal massage course.

  • September 23, 2017 at 4:14 am

    I have been looking for an online equine massage course to do for a while. I am still working and need courses I can study when I am not at my job. I need flexibility. I also need the cost of the course.

  • November 10, 2019 at 7:11 am

    What’s the cost nz $


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