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Massage Illegal in Arizona?

By Cynthia Foley, March 12, 2014

Massage therapists in Arizona have been told to stop massaging horses for money or face arrest. And, in response, the massage professionals have filed a lawsuit to overturn the law.

The lawsuit calls the Arizona State Veterinary Medical Examining Board's decision that only licensed veterinarians can massage horses "irrational." 

The suit has been filed by Celeste Kelly, Grace Granatelli and Stacey Kollman, who are certified in animal massage and have been practicing in Arizona. If they don't comply with the law they face possible jail time and hefty fines.

Apparently, this all came to be when an anonymous tip was received by the state of Arizona that Celeste Kelly was practicing veterinary medicine. This resulted in a letter telling her to stop her practice of massage.

Arizona isn't the only state that won't allow equine massage without a veterinary degree. Arkansas, Maine and Massachusetts also forbid it. Other states only allow it under veterinary supervision, while some allow anyone to massage a horse.

The inconsistency among states isn't surprising. Laws for equine dentists and chiropractors vary as well. There's even been a push in years past to require farriers to only work under veterinary supervision.

I've seen non-veterinarian professionals do an incredible job massaging horses and working on teeth. Some, much like nurse practitioners with human patients, take a longer time to evaluate your horse and seem to have a sixth sense about the horse's body. But they have limitations.

We had a highly regarded dental technician  do our horses' teeth about a decade ago. He said he wasn't allowed to tranquilize the horses and would not do a horse who was not sedated. Ridiculous. If we need to have the veterinarian out to sedate the horses, why not simply ask the veterinarian to float the teeth?  We were able to sedate the horses, so he could do the work, and he did a great job. But if he isn't allowed to sedate the animals for a procedure he's licensed to do, what's the point?

Laws that restrict uneducated people from working on animals - whether feet, body or dental - make sense. They should require that the person become educated and receive certification from a recognized school, like Equissage, for massage. They should also require proof of continuing education in order to renew their license.

But laws that stopped educated, certified professionals from practicing their trade do not make sense. I don’t understand why a state that allows non-physicians to do massage on humans won’t allow a non-veterinarian to do massage on an animal. It’s much more difficult to work the muscles of a 1,100-lb. horse than a 120-lb. woman. And why on earth would Arizona allow these women to continue to massage horses if the women were willing to provide the services for free? What is the goal here? Clearly, it's not protecting the horses.

By the way, if you want to massage your own horse - even in Arizona - you're free to do so. We even know the right tools for you to use. See our article. Just don't charge your horse for your services.

UPDATE: Read the article in DVM360 about the pending lawsuit!

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Horse Sexual Abuse: The Elephant in the Room

By Cynthia Foley, March 10, 2014

Credit: Foley
With a sound monitor installed in the barn, we can hear this alarm in the house if someone opens a stall door.
A few days ago, I was telling a veterinarian friend about the surveillance article by Susan Quinn, Esq., published on Horse Journal Online last week.  I told her I thought it was a strong article but worried that most people would skip it, thinking it wasn’t something they could afford or didn’t need.

I explained that the article idea had come to mind when I learned that in my own area there were two recent cases of animal abuse on large animals. In both cases, the problem was intruders who entered the barn at night and sexually abused the animals. I think one such incident is too much, and it isn’t a risk I want to take for my horses. But, I asked her, should I blog about such a thing?

 “Yes. It’s the elephant in the room,” said my friend. “No one wants to believe it could happen, so they look for every other reason under the sun. But it’s a big problem and a real problem. The issue was addressed at the recent North American Veterinary Conference,”   so that veterinarians were able to recognize the signs of sexual abuse in animals. She later gave me a copy of the seminar notes from the NAVC conference.

One of the cases in my area involved a dairy farm, and the media reported that the criminals had been captured.  The dairy farm owner had noted that milk production was unexplainably down and that the cows were acting funny, but he couldn’t figure out why. So he installed a video surveillance system, which provided the answer.

The other case was a mare. The veterinarian who examined the horse said that, although he was skeptical when he received the emergency phone call, there is now no question what had happened to that horse. He verified it with examination and sonogram. Like the cows, the horses in the barn were all acting odd the next morning, which was the owner’s first clue. 

Other than that, she noticed a few oddities, the front door was cracked open and a couple buckets and a halter and rope were slightly misplaced. When she noticed that someone had given a horse a full bale of hay in her stall, she went to get help, as it showed that someone had been in the barn overnight. The horses were inspected for injuries, and the injured genitalia and blood were found. The police and veterinarian were called immediately.

The veterinary conference talk on animal sexual abuse was given by Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM, of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.  In the talk she explained that this crime is frequently not reported for a number of reasons, including a lack of knowledge, fear of getting involved in a case, and that sexual animal abuse is a “taboo subject.”

The lack of knowledge comes down to self education for veterinarians and horse owners alike. “Signs that should arouse suspicions of non-accidental injury include inconsistent history, untreated injuries, recurring injuries, unusual meekness of an animal, suspicious behavior or the owner, and injuries consistent with abuse. Injuries to the anus, nipples, or genitalia should immediate bring the mind the possibility of animal sexual abuse,” said Dr. Smith-Blackmore in her lecture.

There’s no reason to over-react, however, or jump to conclusions. If a mare came in injured from turnout with other animals, sexual abuse is far less likely.

 “It is not uncommon to find horses turned out together biting the genital areas,” said the examining veterinarian.  “Swelling can be due to bites, or the horse may have rubbed herself on a post or tree,” he said.  These types of injuries frequently require sutures. “But when a horse was fine the night before, had no contact with other horses and shows this type of swelling with internal injuries, there’s no question,”  adding that the quieter animals are frequently the victims.

  • Try not to disturb the crime scene.  
  • Do not touch any surfaces you don’t absolutely have to disturb. 
  • Do not clean out the horse’s stall, as there may be evidence in the stall. 
  • Look for unidentifiable footprints around the barn and outside. 

The sooner you can convince police to come out and take evidence, the better. However, getting the 911 operator to take you seriously may require help from your veterinarian.  And even your veterinarian may doubt the likelihood, but a thorough exam will make the difference. Be sure you have your facts in order and act calmly in order to be taken seriously.

Some law authorities may be unsure how to proceed as well.  As late as 1990, said Dr. Smith Blackmore, no state had laws opposing these crimes. Fortunately, many do now have such laws, although you may find the crime has to be recorded as burglary with the intent to do harm in order to move the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. As more states gain laws, we hope this type of abuse will be considered a felony everywhere.

My advice to you is to be sure you know what’s going on in your barn when you’re not there.  And make note of odd occurrences, such as a person pulling into the driveway for no apparent reason. May criminals make note of your usual day’s schedule, so they know when it’s least likely for someone to be in or around the barn.

Consider getting a camera system, as in our article, as it’s the best way to go because then police have a face and body recorded.  At the very least, you can deter entry with a makeshift system from Home Depot supplies.  

Add motion lights inside the barn, so that if an intruder enters, the barn lights up.

Use battery-powered window/door alarms on stall doors and entry doors.

Get a monitoring device to carry the sound from the barn to your home. Something as simple as a baby monitoring system might be just the ticket. 

 There’s a Graco baby monitoring unit with a 2,000-foot range for less than $40 at Walmart, so when someone opens a door in the barn, the alarm will go off and we hear it over the monitor.

Be aware, though, that these systems have limitations, can and do cause false alarms. In addition, the monitor may lose connection from time to time, and you do have to be near it to hear it. The motion detection lights must be seen from your home, so you’d have to be looking out the window at that moment to see them. Of course, if the stall alarm goes off and the motion lights go on, chances are someone has entered the barn.

Overall, your most foolproof method is a video camera monitoring system that records to a device that is offsite. That way, if you have an intruder, you can give the video to police. A recording device that’s in the barn itself can be picked up and taken away by the criminal. If you can afford professional installation and monitoring, all the better, but be sure the system is acclimated to the dusty, humid barn environment.

It’s not just the theft of tack that’s a concern anymore. When criminals are targeting our animals, we have to work to protect them.

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Equine Footing Video - Dr. Hilary Clayton

By Cynthia Foley, March 01, 2014

Anyone who doesn't realize the Internet is full of hidden gems has his or her head in the sand. 

There's no argument that there's a lot of nonsense (and even downright stupid) "information" available - and usually you do get what you pay for! - but many people go to the same sites repeatedly, without expanding their searches. I understand that, but sometimes a word of advice can open many doors for you.

That's what happened to me when Margaret Freeman, Horse Journal's Associate Editor, mentioned that there was some good material on the Dressage4Kids website. Margaret is part of the Dressage4Kids organization, an incredibly wonderful resource started by Lendon Gray, a renowned rider and trainer and USDF Hall of Fame honoree. Dressage4Kids might be there to inspire children to become interested in dressage, but it has a lot for adults, too.

So, I went to the site,, and I was incredibly impressed not only by the amount of solid, good, reliable, dependable information on the site, but also by the incredible experts that offer advice and opinion (one that has real experience behind it).

I'll probably share more of the pearls stashed away there in upcoming blogs, but this one by Dr. Hilary Clayton really hit home for me. 

Our indoor arena has sand, the ordinary footing that is probably the most basic of all footings. Now there are tons of fancy footings out there - those with coated sand, rubber, felt pieces and so on - and we investigated a number of them before settling on sand to start. Putting in the arena base, sand and labor cost around $4,000, compared to $12,000 by the time we would have finished the commercial footing.

Imagine my surprise when I listened to Dr. Clayton, a veterinarian I hold in the highest regard for her work and research that has benefited sport horses greatly, talk about footings and the need for horses to work over a variety of surfaces. 


See also: Dr. Clayton's articles with Horse Journal about bits: Prescriptions for bits and Dr. Clayton Demystifies Bit Action.

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Horse Journal's Groundbreaking New Format

By Cynthia Foley, February 19, 2014


If you’re a Horse Journal subscriber, you know that we made a monumental decision for 2014: Go Green! 

The postcard that recently arrived in your mailbox explained that we were no longer going to print Horse Journal. It didn’t say we’re going away; it said we’re changing. 

We decided it was time to rid ourselves of the limitations of ink and paper and move into the modern age. We’re going digital! And that means there’s virtually no limit to the information we can offer our subscribers. 

When you think about it, the digital medium fits us like a glove. No advertising pages. Just our respected product reviews, informative horse care, well-read horse management articles and more – all focused on helping you manage your horse and your horse money. 

Over the years, subscribers have told us that they never make a buying decision without consulting us. And we’re usually told that at the start of a phone conversation requesting help locating a certain article. With our new digital format and upgraded website, all you have to do is type in your search word and you’ll have the article at your fingertips. (But don’t stop calling us. We love talking with readers!) 

As we developed our plan, we decided to go yet another step into the future. We’re breaking free of the monthly format, too. When an article’s ready to go, it’s going on the website, so there’s no waiting a full month for new material. 

My favorite part is that we can give you web links to the products you’re interested in and we can insert video footage, too. But not just any video – only the ones we believe offer solid, reliable information.

As always, we’ll cut through all the clutter of competing viewpoints and notions that characterize the horse world (and we thought that was bad 20 years ago!). And we’ll help you, our subscriber, solve problems. 

In our new section, “Horse Journal On Call,” our experts will answer subscriber questions. And if we don’t know the answer, we will find a qualified expert who does. If you’re having difficulties in the barn, we have answers. 

We’ve always prided ourselves on being a leader in equine publishing, and this is no different. As we said over 20 years ago, “There’s a lot of information to share . . . It’s going to be a helluva ride.”

See some of our upcoming topics.

Let us know if there are products or topics you'd like to see us cover.


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Olympic Skier Bode Miller a Horse Trainer?

By Cynthia Foley, February 17, 2014

Credit: credit-photo-jack-affleckvail-resorts.-photo-may-be-used-for-editorial-purposes-only.
Will Bode Miller trade in his skis for horses?

It is with complete amazement that I share a story in USAToday that the now legendary Olympic skier Bode Miller (2014 Olympic bronze in SuperG) would like to try his hand at horse training. Racehorses, that is. That fits, doesn't it? Think fast.

Known for skiing at record-breaking, death-defying speeds, this friend of famed Thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert - arguably one of the most successful trainers in both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing - Miller certainly should have no trouble finding the right coach. 

Bode Miller is one of a handful of skiers who have won medals in all five alpine events. He's competing in his record-breaking fifth Olympics at age 36. 

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