Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2009

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Page 47 of 139

A nimal massage has grown considerably in the United States since its emergence within the horse community in the 1960s and 1970s. It was on the racetracks and in the stables that famed sports massage therapist Jack Meagher (who passed away earlier this year) and others like Linda Tellington-Jones helped massage become a valuable component of equestrian care, while also unveiling the hands-on work to a broader animal advocate population. The field has evolved significantly since that time, with animal therapists now offering everything from acupressure to energy work to hydrotherapy to—human massage. Despite their place in ancient Greek and Arabic equestrian traditions, animal therapies continue to fight for a place in the massage community today. Some opponents even question the place of animal massage in human massage schools. Still, a growing number of massage and bodywork practitioners are working with animals, big and small, in everything from zoos to living rooms around the world. The legitimacy human massage has earned over the last decade has no doubt been a boon for animal massage as well. "People have started to understand that massage can help their animals in so many ways," says Barbara Maciejewski, who has been involved with the animal massage program at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy (BCMT) since 2003. "There's great acceptance—word is out there now." The world of animal massage is definitely changing, as evidenced by not only today's legal wranglings surrounding who can and can't do the work, but also by who is taking animal massage trainings to begin with. According to Maciejewski, students taking the animal course work at BCMT are veterinarians, vet techs, and massage therapists. She says not only are vets seeing animal massage as another revenue stream, but massage therapists are seeing it as a way to fill holes in their appointment books. 46 massage & bodywork november/december 2009

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