Mercedes Clemens, a massage therapist based in Gaithersberg, Maryland, who was ordered by state regulators not to practice her trade on horses, will now be allowed to do so under an informal agreement struck in court.

Clemens sued the state Board of Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Examiners in June after it told her she could not massage animals. Though she treated other animals, Clemens was trained in equine massage and focused that part of her practice on horses.

In February 2008, the board sent her a notice saying “You are to immediately cease and desist from the practice of massage of horses and any other animal in the state of Maryland.”

In court yesterday, Grant Gerber, the Maryland assistant attorney general who represented the board, acknowledged that it has no authority over the treatment of animals, just people. Clemens said later that she has lost as much as $20,000 of possible income since the order was issued.

The Washington Post, Montgomery County, Maryland, May 6