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The Dirty Dozen: Animal Massage Therapist

Martha Stowe was raised on her grandparents’ farm in Colorado where she cared for horses, instilling a profound love of horses- a love that would eventually inspire her to found Blazer Farm in Franklin, where she practices myofascial release (MRF) for injured or rehabbing equestrian clients. MFR is a safe and effective technique that involves gently applying sustained pressure into connective tissue to alleviate pain that multiple surgeries and therapies can’t adequately address.

Laurie Wheeler crossed paths with Martha when her own, newly adopted horse was struggling with lingering pain. After witnessing the impact of MFR firsthand, Laurie decided to join Martha’s venture at Blazer Farm. Together, Martha and Laurie have been helping owners to provide relief from pain and injuries for their beloved horses for nearly two decades.

Several years ago, the Veterinary Board of Tennessee quietly passed a regulation that defined “animal massage” as a form of veterinary medicine. Last year, this same board used this little-known regulation to shut down these hardworking women’s businesses, citing them for failing to obtain a veterinary license. Yet, in order to obtain a vet license under this new rule, Martha and Laurie would have to go back to school for four years, with tuition costing upwards of $200,000. And even then, veterinary schools are not even required to teach animal massage.

The Tennessee General Assembly considered this issue during the 2017 session that concluded in April and recommended a “stay”, which allows Martha and Laurie to continue practicing MFR until the legislature can study and produce recommendations on the case during the 2018 legislative session. Our lawmakers must seek a full repeal of the mandate that animal massage professionals also be licensed vets.

 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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