Photo by perfect balance therapeutic massage, San Marcos, CA
A bill to reduce onerous requirements to massage a horse for hire is working its way through the Nebraska Legislature, with the full backing of Sen. Mike Groene.LB 596 would exempt equine massage therapy from the list of animal therapies that must be licensed by a state board of veterinarians. Officially, the state only allows veterinarians to massage horses.
“In the world of horse enthusiasts, horse massage is a common practice to keep competitive livestock at the top of their game -- no different than a professional athlete,” Groene said.
Such massages are especially apt for rodeo horses. They improve a horse’s mobility by freeing up its muscles. The horse’s neck, shoulders and back are loosened to improve jumping, bending, turning, and stopping, advocates say.
Four years ago, the Bulletin told the story of Karen Hough of Arnold, who battled with state officials for the right to give a horse a massage. Hough wished to practice equine massage as a sideline business. She took training and practiced until she understood the techniques.
However before she really got started, Hough received a cease and desist order because she didn't have a license. Dismayed but not deterred, she worked for four months to get state officials to admit the requirement was too restrictive, but she was stymied by a series of deferrals and referrals to various offices and departments.
This year, Groene introduced a bill on her behalf. The Legislature appears to be ready to reduce such requirements. Gov. Pete Ricketts also proposed a series of reductions in requirements for a dozen such licenses, including human massage therapists, barbers, nurses, nail technicians, motor vehicle salespeople and school bus drivers.
Groene said Texas, Montana, South Dakota, and many other western states do not require a license to be a horse massage therapist.
His researchers found that horse massage is practiced in Nebraska, but is done illegally without a license.
"We found because of the onerous requirements Nebraska has set, there is not one single licensed equine therapist in Nebraska,” he said.
The legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee heard LB 596 on March 9. Groene is optimistic that the bill will advance to the full Legislature.
“I think it has a good chance to be voted out of committee,” he said Wednesday in his weekly report for the Bulletin. “I have found no better example than this issue to show the publics' sometimes frustration of government becoming a ‘nanny state.’”