News Release: Bill to Ease Horse Massage Restrictions Prioritized

News Release: Bill to Ease Horse Massage Restrictions Prioritized

NEWS RELEASE from the Platte Institute

February 21, 2018

Contact: Adam Weinberg
(402) 452-3737

Bill to Ease Horse Massage Restrictions Prioritized
Speaker Priority Status Affords Time on Legislative Agenda


LINCOLN, NE – A bill to exempt the professional practice of massaging horses, known as equine massage, from the state’s job licensing laws has been prioritized by the Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, setting the bill up for a vote by the whole Unicameral.

Sen. Mike Groene’s Legislative Bill 596 is now confirmed as a Speaker Priority bill according to the Nebraska Legislature website. Senators, committees, and the Speaker of the Legislature each have the ability to designate bills as priorities in order to favor those bills on the legislative schedule, which is particularly important in a short legislative session.

The date for first round debate on LB596 has not been announced at this time.

Nebraska is host to a wide variety of athletic events involving horses, and the state’s horse population per person is well above the national average. Despite this, many workers have found the legal path to running a business offering equine massage services to be full of barriers.

The only way to practice equine massage in Nebraska without working under the supervision of a veterinarian is by becoming licensed as an animal therapist. In order to qualify for an animal therapist license, a practitioner must also be licensed to practice on people in the services they want to offer. That means someone performing equine massage first has to be a licensed massage therapist.

Nebraska has one of the country’s most costly and time-consuming massage therapy licensing requirements, which takes 1,000 hours of training. At a 2017 legislative hearing for LB596, testifiers acknowledged that under the current licensing arrangement, no one in Nebraska is lawfully licensed to provide equine massage.

In December, aspiring practitioner Dawn Hatcher of Columbus spoke to the Platte Institute about Nebraska’s current requirements for practicing equine massage:

“For a working mother, this was both time and cost prohibitive, and it seemed ridiculous, since human anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology is vastly different than equine,” said Hatcher.

“I can’t spend that amount of time and money on a certification I’ll never use. It doesn’t make sense. We should be able to focus our efforts on the specific equine training required for our field of practice,” said Hatcher.

Under an amendment proposed to LB596 (AM1500), equine massage practitioners, as they would be called, would not have to be licensed.

Practitioners would instead be required to register with the state and renew their registration every five years. Registration would require evidence of a certificate in equine massage from a school accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to 2022, previously uncertified practitioners could practice with two letters of recommendation by licensed veterinarians attesting to their competency to practice.

“We are excited Sen. Groene’s bill was picked to be included on the 2018 agenda,” said Nicole Fox, Director of Government Relations at the Platte Institute.

“LB596 creates an opportunity for many new rural, and often women-owned businesses, to be formed. Some people we’ve talked to have been waiting years for this red tape to be cut, and with any luck, they could be open for business before the year is over,” Fox said.

Platte Institute staff members are available for comment on this story. To schedule an interview, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 452-3737 or

The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. Learn more at

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