Certification Issues and Considerations

As Equine Therapeutic technologies have proliferated during the past 30 years issues, considerations around State Regulation of non-licensed Equine Care Specialists have garnered significant attention.  in 2019 the New York State Gaming Commission created headlines about the use of therapeutic modalities on our equine friends: 

Racing’s Red Tape Keeps Equine Therapists From Their Work In New York

Until the Equine industry steps up and addresses this issue head on, AAETT recommends that non-medically licensed people in the animal world make careful and informed decisions  when using the name “Practitioner”, “Therapist” or “Certified” for a number of crucial questions and considerations.

  • Must an individual be licensed as a human physical therapist before being Certified as an Equine Care Specialist?”

No. At present there are no formal state regulations governing the certification of Equine Care Specialists. This does not mean that there may not be such regulations in the future. Recognized leaders in the development of these various therapies will undoubtedly play a role in the establishment of regulatory guidelines when, and if the day of state by state regulation should arrive. Any such future regulation would be based on the principles of human physical therapy.

  • What qualifications or background are considered important for success as an Equine Care Specialist?

The most important qualification for success is a love of animals, empathy for suffering animals, and a sincere desire to help alleviate that suffering. One of AAETT’s Education goals is to develop a set of standardized protocols for a variety of treatment modalities. While it will be preferable to have a background in several different types of therapy, it is not mandatory at this point in time.

  • How does a non-licensed Equine Care Specialist  appropriately participate in the field of Equine Care?

All new and existing Equine Care Specialists, who are NOT licensed by a State Veterinary Board, must be reminded that diagnosis and prescribing are the veterinarian’s domain and that each Equine Care Specialist has a supportive role in the process of injury prevention and recovery. An Equine Care Specialist  is valuable in both recovery from, and prevention of injury and debility. By utilizing a variety of therapies that enhance the body’s natural ability to heal, the Equine Care Specialist assists and supports the process of healing the whole body.

  • What scope of knowledge should an Equine Care Specialist have?

There are many non-invasive techniques that can stimulate healing without the use of drugs. The most successful non-licensed Equine Care Specialists are those who take every possible step to enhance their knowledge and education in the practice areas of equine physiotherapy and bio-mechanics. We’ve included an abundance of resources and recommended reading for the new Equine Care Specialist.  It is important for any non-licensed Equine Care Specialist to understand the reasoning and method for introducing drugs and other therapies the equine medical community prescribes.

  • Considerations around calling oneself  “Certified”

As Equine Care Specialists have proliferated during the past 10 years, issues and considerations around State Regulation of non-licensed Equine Care Specialists have garnered significant attention. Until the Equine industry steps up and addresses this issue head on, AAEET recommends that non-medically licensed individuals, in the animal world, carefully consider any “Certification Program” for a number of crucial reasons:

~ Every State is regulated by their own Veterinarian Boards.

~ All treatments of animals are administered by a State Board Licensed Practitioner (in respective State), and monitoring, compliance, enforcement and re-licensing of State Licensed Practitioners will also vary on a state by state basis.

~ If an Equine Care Specialist is not licensed by the State they operate in, yet market themselves a “Certified”, such “Certification” and the various claims made by the Equine Care Specialist may mislead the public by projecting the appearance that their treatment activities are sanctioned by that specific State Regulatory Agency, when in fact they are not. A number of State Regulatory Agencies currently penalize “Certified” individuals, because the “Certification” clearly infers a claim that they operate under that  umbrella of State Regulatory control when, in fact, they do not.

~ State Vet Board Sanctioning; Currently, the majority of State Vet Board do not sanction, monitor nor regulate non-medically licensed Equine Care Specialists. The AVMA maintains a listing of all states under its State Summary Report called “Scope of Practice: Complementary and Alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM) and other practice act exemptions. To review the current statues in your state go to : https://www.avma.org/Advocacy/StateAndLocal/Pages/sr-cavm-exemptions.aspx

  • Still interested in the idea of being “Certified”? When you call a company that provides “Certification” consider the following:
    • Are you able to receive Certification before   performing any treatments on a horse, human or other animal while being tested by the Certifying body’s educators?
    • Request specific information about exactly what specific steps are required prior to obtaining a “Certification” from the “CO” (Certifying Organization)
    • What does “Certification” exactly mean by the CO offering it? This definition should be easily obtainable, quickly shared and should make sense.
    • What specific body of knowledge is required by the CO and how is the applicant tested and re-tested over the course of the next two years for their knowledge…and how often? You must obtain hard copy evidence to support a CO’s claim.
    • What are the various methods employed by the CO to deliver educational information and content to the applicant on an on-going basis?
    • How is specific administration of the modality or techniques on a horse demonstrated by the CO?
    • Who are the individuals which determine a Pass/Fail and more importantly, what are their credentials?
    • What constitutes a Pass or a Fail? And what % of applicants actually Pass? (there should be a reasonable percent of failures)
    • What is the process by which the CO periodically tests the applicant for their knowledge, understanding, and application of the modality or application techniques on a horse?
    • Does the CO specifically prohibit their non-licensed “Certified Practitioners” from making medical, claims, diagnosing and prescribing any kind of  treatments? If so, does the CO have such requirements posted on their website and require the same of its “Certified Practitioners” on their website, training materials, operating documents or marketing materials? If so, specifically request that the CO send a copies and a link to the page on their website (and those of their “Certified Practitioners”) as evidence.
    • How the CO does monitor  its “Certified Practitioners” for proper compliance with the CO’s treatment protocols and standards? This is the true litmus test that further validates the authenticity of “Certification”.
    • How and when does the CO enforce use of such protocols and standards in order for its Practitioner to remain “Certified?
    • Has the CO obtained any regulatory approvals from any of the 50 separate Vet Boards in the USA? If so, which ones? Will the CO provide evidence of such approvals?
    • Before agreeing to become “Certified” we highly recommend that you perform some research to discover if any standardized/enforced application  methodologies are employed across all Practitioners who are “Certified” (by the Certifying Organization). Consider that if the CO’s specific treatment standards and protocols existed among the “Certified Practitioners”, then there should be explicit uniformity when treatments are administered from all its “Certified Practitioners”.
    • As well, ask if the “Certified Practitioners” of the CO are allowed to treat at FEI Sanctioned events. FEI now has regulation, which is called a “Permitted Therapists”.

When potential Therapists and Technicians inquire about our Educational Conferences their experience can include a wide variety of backgrounds within their respective disciplines and personal or professional experience.

AAETT  is comprised of our industry’s top educators and experts, who collectively have  decades worth of implementing the a wide variety of therapeutic modalities in our country’s top Equine Therapeutic Centers,  Veterinary Clinics/Hospitals in the USA. This provides the new an emerging class of Equine Care Specialists with all the necessary resources required to develop the an effective understanding of best practices and effective treatment protocols, which are based upon their individual training needs.

Rather than employ a standard certification or training template at our Educational Conferences, AAETT develops educational modules and wet labs  to address a wide variety backgrounds and experience of its attendees. Those attendees who have little or no medical background (whether human or animal) will require far more support, education and hands on training than an experienced and licensed Equine Vet, Registered Vet Technician, Trainer or individual who has been working with horses for decades and are familiar with a variety of therapeutic modalities.

For all the above reasons, AAETT has made a well informed and deliberate decision to NOT YET Certify its attending Registrants, at this point in time. Rather, we have chosen a path to provide the most up to date information, research and proven protocols to our constituent attendees through our educational channels, network of Licensed Vets and the personalized training provided at our Educational Conferences and Regional Clinics.

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