International Association of Animal Therapists
Continued Professional Development

The Open College of Equine Studies

International Association for Animal Therapists

The Open College of Equine Studies course information

Theme: Continued professional development (CPD) and further qualifications

The application of equine manual therapies is of growing interest within the equine industry, particularly with the developing understanding of the relationship between a horse’s physical wellbeing and their performance and long-term soundness. 

Equine manual therapy refers to the application of massage, mobilisation, and stretch techniques to the horse’s muscles to help relax and mobilise soft tissue structures. Benefits of treatments include optimisation of muscle fibre alignment and tissue extensibility which can lead to an increase in range of motion, giving the horse greater athletic potential; increasing relaxation, which can improve the horse’s attentiveness and responsiveness in ridden work and increasing local blood flow which improves lymphatic drainage.

The Open College of Equine Studies (TOCES) offers two equine therapy qualifications which, upon completion, allow graduates to obtain insurance, join voluntary governing bodies, and establish their own freelance equine therapy practice working within the guidance of UK government legislation as it applies to animal welfare and veterinary surgery. These courses are delivered via blended learning, comprised of theoretical studies via their E-Learning Site, and practical studies via study weeks which are held at their site in Suffolk, UK.

  • Their Level 5 Diploma in Equine Sports Massage and Rehabilitation provides a thorough understanding of equine anatomy and physiology, orthopaedics, and the application of massage therapy skills and rehabilitation techniques to improve equine well-being and performance. Upon completion, graduates will be able to practice as Equine Sports Massage Therapists.
  • Their Level 6 Equine Physiotherapy Diploma Programme encompasses all the above plus an understanding of the merits, methods and application of a range of physical therapies, electrotherapies, and rehabilitation strategies used to restore and maintain the horse’s mobility, function, and performance. Upon completion, graduates will be able to practice as Equine Physiotherapists.

Outside of equine therapy qualifications, TOCES offers a plethora of CPD opportunities in the form of higher education short courses in specialist subject areas. This include, but are not limited to:

  • Level 5 Certificate in Equine Biomechanics which discusses the principles which underpin biomechanics and how to apply them to equine movement.
  • Level 5 Certificate in Equine Behavioural Science which examines the evolutionary processes involved in the development of the modern-day horse and the major effects that domestication has had on horses, including how it affects their behaviour.
  • Level 4 Certificate in Equine Lameness and Rehabilitation which is designed to teach learners how to examine a horse to locate the seat of lameness, whilst appraising diagnostic aids used by the veterinary surgeon.

Further information on these courses, and many more can be found on TOCES’ website:

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