Unbridled Equine specializes in personalized equine massage, professional treatment and exceptional care for all horses.
Katie is the President of Unbridled Equine. She is a certified Animal Acupressure and Massage Therapist with accreditation from Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage -earning the title of certified Equine Therapeutic Massage Therapist (ETMT).
Katie used her 25+ years knowledge of horses as a foundation to develop her skill by branching into exotic animal care, training, and education. Her heart is with horses – and led her back into the industry after working at Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos.
She organically fell in love with equine massage, when she learned of the meaningful connection that is made with the horses through touch. She believes her healing hands give a voice to what the horses are needing physically and emotionally.
Horses have absolutely no filter, so if they like something they let you know (either with a big sigh, licking/chewing, or even tooting/pooping). They are very clear in letting it be known when something is sensitive or tender. They respond openly to massage, and Katie connects well to the horses she works with. She can tell there is an appreciation from them for the care she provides. Her massage techniques have immensely helped her horse clients and brought value to their quality of life.
Katie is truly blessed to bring health and healing to horses, it fills her heart in a way she could never fully describe.
Katie has been married to her husband, Greg, for 8 years. They have two adorable daughters, Quinn and Baylor. Everyone in the family rides and adores horses!
The Start Of Her Horse Obsession
Katie has an appreciation and love for all things horses. Her obsession – if you will – developed the very first time she rode in a horsemanship camp at the age of 10 years old. It was the start of something life long and beautiful.
From this early introduction, she then started taking lessons at a local barn near her childhood home. She worked hard babysitting and saving birthday money to buy her first saddle. Now that she had a saddle, she obviously needed a horse. She persuaded her parents with a Power Point presentation and budget she put together detailing what it would take to buy and care for her first horse, Gigi. Gigi was a 13 year old thoroughbred mare, and perfect for a horse-crazy teenager. Katie was persistent and committed. She taught lessons, fed and cared for horses at the barn 2-3 times per week to help pay for Gigi’s board bill and her riding lessons. She was focused on competing and this love laid the foundation for her studies and now the start of Unbridled Equine.
Katie breathed, studied and practiced horses. She is an educator, a competitor and a certified healer. Her healing practices came in when Gigi got older. Katie began using chiropractic and massage to keep her comfortable and healthy. She rode and competed for the U of I Equestrian Team all 4 years of college and knew that healthy maintenance and conditioning were essential to horse health and stamina.
After college, Katie worked hard to prioritize both her time and money to be able to take lessons and lease horses on and off. It was time to retire Gigi, and Katie kept and cared for her until she passed away at the age of 28.
Katie’s husband, Greg, was introduced to her love and commitment to horses early on while dating. He has been a wonderful and encouraging support along this journey. So once the couple saved enough money, they became the proud owners of a 10 year old Westphalian gelding, named Oscar. Katie fell in love with him at first sight and has owned Oscar for 8 years, showing this impressive horse in A-rated hunter/jumper competitions.. Oscar has been through marriage, moves, kids, sickness and life with the Hawkins. He is a big part of the family dynamic, and everyone in the family rides and adores him!
Katie with her husband, Greg, daughters Quinn & Baylor, their horse Oscar, and their two dogs.
Experience and Expertise
Katie worked as a zookeeper at Brookfield Zoo during and after college. It was there that she learned intimately about animal husbandry, positive reinforcement training, and public education about conservation. She mostly worked with African mammals and reptiles (such as elephants, hippos, okapi, red river hogs, rhinos, crocodiles, snakes, giraffes, and Congo buffalo).
Katie continued to feed her mind and went back to school at Dominican University to get her Master’s of Education. She then worked at the Lincoln Park Zoo in their education department. She ran the summer Conservation Camp, and developed programs to help teachers and students utilize the zoo environment for informal learning. Being an educator is something Katie is also passionate about, from this she was able to share her love and knowledge about animals with large groups of students and teachers.
When Greg and Katie decided to start a family, Katie returned to her first love of horses and teaching riding lessons from 2012-2016.
Equine Massage Practicum
Equine massage and her practice grew as her horse, Oscar became older. She was looking at all types of modalities to take care of him. She herself, had herniated a disk in her back and was scheduled for surgery when she began using chiropractic, naprapathy,and massage religiously. This regular practice allowed her to avoid surgery and return to an active lifestyle!! She believed from her own experience and her love of horses, that she could become a healer for the animals she loves so deeply. She wants to pass on this gift of healing touch to horses and make a difference in their and their owners lives.
History of Equine Massage
Equine massage therapy is the application of traditional massage techniques used to increase the health of the horse. Massage therapy is multi-faceted and used to improve performance, fitness, endurance, mindset and wellbeing. It cuts down on recovery time of an injury and helps to prevent injury or reinjury from occurring.
Massage is an ancient technique that developed through different cultures around the world. Its evolution is quite interesting – its use for healing and health for horses can be traced back historically to 2000 BC.
There are many benefits of equine massage. This important health modality is growing in acceptance as a regular regiment in natural therapy. There was a shift of trends in the 1980’s which changed the focus from traditional medicinal modalities to more healthy regimens and natural therapies. This shift continues today as the benefits of equine massage are scientifically proven, and owners are preferring non-invasive and natural procedure for their horses.
Katie's Equine Massage certifications from the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure And Massage
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- My mare is very sensitive body-wise, so I wasn’t sure how she would tolerate massage. Katie listened to her every cue which quickly built trust with her - something she doesn’t do easily. I could tell from Katie’s feedback she knew my horse very well. She noticed any and every little thing that was different or just something to be noted. I was very pleased with the results over the week
- Mae was such a happy, calm girl after her massage work with katie Hawkins. Thank you so much for helping my nervous Nellie relax. I highly recommend Katie and Unbridled Equine.
- Katie was at all times professional, thorough and friendly. She communicated clearly and her reports were very detailed. She listened to all of my concerns and addressed them. Remington was able to transition to a new barn with Katie's help. He has a strong connection with her and is very relaxed after his therapy. Overall, this has been one of the best experiences of horse ownership I have had.
- Katie always is professional and reliable. Her years of experience as an owner and trainer have given her a truly natural and genuine connection to people and animals alike. Cosmo is a big and older thoroughbred who has his quirks and is certainly not always the easiest to work with and she is always so gentle and calm with him. He always feels better after time with Katie
- Obie loves his massages. Thank you Katie hawkins for a stellar job on the Obs. I’m not sure why people keep telling me my horse is spoiled