The Barn Rat Career Panel

What a fun collaboration with Sydney from The Barn Rat highlighting my career as a Certified Equine Therapeutic Massage Therapist! In the interview we dive into my favorite parts about my career, an honest look into my lifestyle at home and at horse shows, and advice for anyone looking to enter into a similar field.

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I am so excited to bring you this interview! Katie Hawkins is an equine massage therapist who I met during the Equestrian Workshop we both attended. She is so knowledgeable and helps keep our equine athletes working at the highest of levels, Katie has many FEI level clients. Her business Unbridled Equine LLC has branched out into virtual sessions along with her in person work and she has many educational videos that you could watch while grooming your own horse! If you are looking for a career that helps horses feel their best, then you will not want to miss this one!


TBR: What is your job title?
KH: Certified Equine Therapeutic Massage Therapist
TBR: Describe your position and your average work day.
KH: I own Unbridled Equine LLC – an equine massage and MagnaWave therapy provider for top level performance horses.  My average “work” day varies, but when I’m home I work full time traveling to barns to massage anywhere from 1-8 horses/day with an average of 2-3/day 4-5 days a week.  It takes me 1-2 hours/horse to complete a massage session.  When I’m at horse shows, I work on clients around my own show schedule – usually that means working early mornings, late into the evenings and weekends.  My job is physical demanding and I work in the barns in a crosstie or horse’s stall.  I also try to keep one day a week for “computer work” which means answering emails, creating my social media posts, connecting with other professionals in the equine industry, furthering my education, etc…

TBR: What is the best part of your job?
KH: The best part of my job is that I work directly with the horse and I am not asking anything of them during our time together…I’m just giving and pouring love into them.

TBR: What is the hardest/least desirable part of your job?
KH: The hardest part of my job is that the work is very physically demanding and takes a toll on my body.

TBR: How many hours a week do you spend working? What is the work/life balance like?
KH: I consider my job a full-time job but my hours can vary greatly week to week.  Sometimes I have super long days with a lot of horses to work on, but then I try to schedule a lighter work day the next day.  Also, when traveling or at horse shows my hours are pretty intense.  Work/Life balance is very important to me – so I try not to work weekends so I can spend time with my family, I schedule in my riding and lessons times, I carve out time for my physical and mental health (IE. working out, getting massages, seeing doctors, ect…), and I have autonomy over my schedule so I can take vacations when I want or attend an activity one of my kid’s might be in.

TBR: What advice would you give to someone wanting to do this job?
KH: My advice to someone interested in being an equine masseuse would be to get certified through a top-notch school, spend as much time as you can learning hands-on vs. virtually, find good people to mentor you and help set up your massage business, be willing to comp services when you start out, always continue your education and certifications, and find good owners and trainers to associate yourself with.TBR: What experience or schooling did you need to qualify for this job?
KH: I have an undergraduate degree in Animal Sciences and a graduate degree in Education.  I received my equine massage certification from the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage out of Colorado.  I also have 25+ years experience riding and working with horses plus I ride and compete regularly.

TBR: What is the range of pay for this position?
KH: I charge $150-200/massage and $50 for MagnaWave therapy.  That is on the high-end for equine massage on a national level, but appropriate for my area and the show circuit/FEI level horses that I work on.

TBR: What are 3 things you would want someone applying for this job to know?
KH: 3 things I would want someone to know about this job is….you have to be calm and patient at all times – leave your own issues and baggage at the door and don’t bring them into the session, you have to have a strong work ethic, take care of your body and hands, and be a self starter, and always be open to learning and continuing your education to gain experience and be able to help the horse to the best of your abilities.

TBR: What do you think the horse industry needs to do for the future?
​KH: I love working and riding/showing in the horse industry.  With that said, I think the industry as a whole lacks honesty, compassion, and collaboration….not towards horses always but with how people in the industry treat each other.  We are all so blessed to be involved in professions and jobs that allow us to work with an animal we love, but I’m disappointed in how people in this industry lack respect and love for each other.   To move forward in the future, I think the newer generation of professionals, trainers and riders need to look within to figure out why they want to work in this industry and how they can contribute to make horses lives better and to evolve the support to be more inclusive and supportive.