Photo by George Lauby
A diagram of horse's muscles, posted online by a Bozeman, Montana ranch that provides horse care and therapy.
To massage a horse, a Nebraska resident needs to be a veterinarian, according to a state law that is, thankfully, under reform.
Karen Hough of Arnold is especially grateful. She has been battling to lessen the strict license requirement.
Hough, who once got a “cease and desist” order from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services after she asked about obtaining a horse massage license, complained to several state officials and talked to the Bulletin.
Massages improve a horse’s mobility and frees up muscles. The neck, shoulders and back are loosened to improve jumping, bending, turning, and stopping, advocates say.
One day after the Bulletin’s report of her efforts was published July 18, she got a call from Nebraska Sen. Tyson Larson.
Larson told her to call the state board of veterinary medicine, because reforms to the law were in the works.
A few days later, Hough held a copy of a new proposed law in her hands.
The new proposal calls for 100 hours of training in a horse massage, a lot less than the seven years of study required to be a veterinarian.
The new regulation must pass through the Legislature early next year to become law, but Hough believes that will happen, because it is endorsed by veterinarians.
“My faith in government of the people and by the people has been restored,” she told the Bulletin. “We can make a difference if we use the system.”
Hough said she talked to good people in government, including Ryan Sothan in the Attorney General’s office, Becky Wisell and Dave Montgomery in Health and Human Services, Rochelle Mallett in Sen. Deb Fisher's office, Travis in Sen. Tyson Larson's office and James F. Unwin, DMV, the chairman of the Board of Veterinary Medicine.
“Each one helped guide me through the path of changing a law,” she said. “A draft has been written to create a clear pathway for the licensing of equine massage therapy.”