I seem to have been getting a lot of messages asking how I went about becoming a Vet Physio!
So to save individual replies I thought I’d tell you all!
In 2003 I qualified as a Chartered Physiotherapist (human) I worked NHS, in private practice and in sport for many years.
During this time I learnt how to ‘be a physiotherapist’ sounds ridiculous but coming out of uni you realise very quickly how much you do NOT know!
You need to learn to ‘Feel’
You need to learn to ‘listen’
You need to learn to ‘Clinically reason’
You need to learn to ‘set achievable short term and long term goals’
◼️ You need to learn how to ‘treat’
One of the best parts of being human trained is that people can talk! Over the years through In Service Training and treating people the amount of feedback I received changed my practice!
From Maitland Mobilisations to trigger point release having the ability of someone telling you how it feels, whether you are on the right spot, right pressure, correct technique really does improving be your technique!
Post graduate human training has involved Acupuncture, Mulligan, Cyriax, Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Release, Respiratory, Equipilates, Kinesiology Taping and many more sport related courses!
I then went on to study Veterinary Physiotherapy at Hartpury (UWE) for 2 years, this took a lot of time, money and dedication!
The course allowed me to take my Physiotherapy knowledge from my human work and translate it to the animal work!
It may surprise you to know that I use many of the same treatment techniques on animals which I use on humans!
The learning never stops, from reviewing latest research, to external courses (too many to list!), peer review with colleagues, the more I learn the more my practice changes.
But fundamentally Physio is Physio, whether your patient has 2 or 4 legs!
I can only advise on the route that I took to achieve my dream job! There are many other routes out there, but one of the most important things is that you even if you only choose to treat animals you will still by default deal with humans!
One of the things I pride myself in is the ability to treat both horse and rider!
I still work part time in the NHS along side my Vet Physio business!
Unfortunately I am unable to take work experience students due to insurance so please don’t be offended if I decline requests.
#ACPAT #Charteredphysio #equinephysio #caninephysio #riderphysio#wirralvetphysio
With winter looming, horses are now being stabled more! I often get asked about haynets and feeding from the floor. So I thought I would post my thoughts on the matter! I don’t profess to know everything and as always there are exceptions to every rule, so bear that in mind when reading my rationale!
From a physio point of view thinking about the horses’s biomechancs I often advocate feeding from the ground, tub or Haybar (even with a small holed haynet tied inside to slow feeding), I understand this is not always possible but it certainly has it’s benefits!
So if we think of horses in their natural environment, they spend hours grazing in a downward ground level position, therefore we should think it important to try as best as we can to replicate this position within the stable environment to benefit the horses well being as posture.
Horses are foragers/grazers who in the wild, would travel over great distances to obtain food and water as the wild grasses are low in nutrition. In it’s natural environment the horse grazes for approximately 18-20 hours per day. The relatively small stomach and large gut are perfectly suited for this. If the stomach is left empty for prolonged periods (as often happens with stabled horses) the stomach lining can become damaged leading to ulcers.
Muscular and Joint Benefits
So my pet hate is haynets tied up high! Yes I know for safety we want them away from the floor but think of how the horse’s biomechanics are affected by high level haynets? not to mention the position allows debris to fall in the eyes.
So the emphasis we work towards is long and low, why? To obtain minimal tension through the neck and back; therefore working a natural stretch of the horses top line keeping the joints and muscles supple. So when we feed from high hung haynets it encourages spinal extension and epaxial (muscles along the horses back) activation, the muscles around the poll and base of the neck can become overused and become sore leading to ridden or behavioural problems as the horse finds difficulty engaging the hindlimbs.
Feeding at ground level allows the respiratory system to work naturally and most effectively as there is a decrease in exposure to respiratory irritants. A lowered head and neck position encourage natural airway drainage, this is their natural defence against deep inhalation of food and dust related particles that can lead to chest and lung infections, other respiratory effects and even choke.
Horses in their natural environment eat with their heads down. This permits them to see almost 360 degrees and being a flight animal it is important that the horse has this span of view whilst eating to ensure complete relaxation. Believe it or not even while in the “safety” of a stall the instinct is to survive.
If the hay is placed at the back of the stall, so the horse’s hindquarters face the door, a stressful situation is created. A horse may spend a lot of time grabbing a mouthful of hay and turning toward the front in order to face perceived danger which can lead to stereotypical behaviours in horses such as weaving or box walking.
So if you are facing a long winter of prolonged stabling for your horse have a think about how you can create a more natural environment to aid posture, digestion and well being!
Just wanted to do a quick post on the success of our sponsored riders here at Wirral Veterinary Physiotherapy!
Proud to be working with such talented people, and ponies!!!
We will start with Lucy and Buddy, They completed their second BE at Somerford last weekend and came 3rd
“Had the most amazing day ever! Mine and Spuds second BE and we came home with a 3rd! And we’ve qualified for championships at Weston Park in October. Thanks to Claire Burgess for Buddy’s physio on Tuesday, I think my pony has finally decided he likes dressage🙈 little star was strutting his stuff today😘 31 in dressage and a double clear with no time penalties!
Secondly, an update on our dressage diva Helen Dutton who has been working miracles on her very talented Valde, and we can’t forget to mention the wonderful Christian Grey (Magnus Infego) that she is lucky enough to be competing for Jo McKenzie!
“Mega MEGA trip out with Valde yesterday. 1st overall in the adv medium 98 with 68.16% and 1st in the PYO advanced with 67.2% I’m just soooo proud that we are now developing a partnership that we both have trust and faith in. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed two tests more in my life than I did today and still so many places to pick up more marks. LOVE HIM!!
Followed by Christian’s 2nd affiliated novice tests today. He came out with a 4th on 69.5% and a 2nd with 70.7% he just gets better and better”
And not forgetting event rider Tamara-Jane Davies who was at Rockingham last weekend with the wonderful Arctic Mouse, a very impressive dressage score and some even more impressive jumps! you might recognise this one from the Olympics!!!
Summer is on it’s way, well it certainly seemed like it was yesterday…. today I wasn’t so sure!
Anyway the point of the post tonight is just a reminder to all my current and future clients about the importance of regular physio checks, I don’t tend to remind my clients, but if anyone is unsure of when their horse was last seen (by me) i have it all recorded in their notes!
The ground is getting harder, the grass is growing, and we are all enjoying riding so much more whilst the sun is shining, all factors that can affect your horses way of going, be it even minor!
Prevention is certainly better than cure, and a lot of the sessions that I do are merely a check and horses are often assessed and treated in one session! That’s not to say I don’t have ‘rehab’ cases on my caseload – these are the cases which I love getting my teeth into, as a physio creating problem lists and setting goals is second nature, but seeing the improvements post injury or surgery is really rewarding!
So let’s all enjoy the time we spend with our horses, have fun whether it be hacking for miles on the Wirral Way, or competing at affiliated level, just remember that when you ‘pull’ a muscle or feel a twinge you can rest…. your horse however can’t tell you! and their stoic nature means that they often continue ‘as normal’ with a low level of discomfort. So take note of the subtle changes in your horses ridden or ground work, after all who knows your horse better than you??
Any questions, or to book an appointment message via the website, Facebook or call 07740354930
(Photo credit to sponsored rider Lucy Peters and the fantastic Buddy)
Helen Dutton our sponsored rider has had such success with her 14 hand welshie Bobby over the last few years! He continues to go from strength to strength, but its the back story to this unlikely dressage superstar that always makes me smile!!
So I’ll hand over to Helen to tell us how she ended up with Bobby and how she has achieved the unbelievable
“Bobby’s story starts 10 years ago when he first came to our yard as a 2 year old. He was on DIY livery having been bought from a local dealer who had bought him through Beeston sales.
His owner was unfortunately unable to pay his bill and it was agreed that Bobby would be payment for that amount. I had recently moved from ponies to horses and wasn’t overly keen on the idea of him but went along with it. He needed time to grow and mature so he was turned away for a year or so.
When it was time to back him we realised it was going to be tricky. He was wild to handle, untouchable with brushes, rugs and petrified of everything. I clearly remember telling my mum that ‘as soon as I’m in that saddle this pony’s going to kill me’ slowly but surely we began to win his trust but it took nearly 6 months to be able to get on him.
To ride he was very ordinary, but well behaved and honest. He had a small walk, a rather wooden trot, no medium trot whatsoever and a flat out canter with no real clear rhythm, he almost trotted behind. A notorious local judge referred to him as ‘your pony that can’t canter’ and was quite sure he never would. But under all this he had a lovely trainable mind and was a brilliant hack.
He competed at prelim level gaining low to mid 60% scores and did a prelim regional coming second to last with 58% having done nothing wrong but that’s just what he got. After this he was put up for sale, a few people came but decided he wasn’t for them.
I carried on with his training and from here everything started to change, he began to get stronger and more balanced. His became more powerful and his scores improved. We went to regionals one year later again at prelim and he won!! From that day there was no stopping him, that result gave me confidence and belief that judges could take him seriously.
He moved through novice and elementary, after winning the novice national championships Trailblazers finals.
Each time he started at a new level his scores would dip a little for a while until he was more confident. Soon he was winning most times out, still becoming stronger and more established but still only schooled about once a week and hacked and jumped the rest of the time. That’s just what worked for him. Medium became his most successful level, he loves the challenge but it does require him to be schooled 2-3 times a week so he has the fitness and strength but he’s more that happy.
If he ever struggles to learn a new movement I tend to teach him it when we are out hacking. He did his first flying changes on the beach.
He has won 4 regional championships, 2 reserve regional championships, 2 area festivals and qualified for the Nationals or Area festival finals a total of 13 times from prelim through to advanced medium. Culminating in his 3rd place at the Nationals this year at medium level which was beyond anything I could have hoped for.
I hope to carry on training him through to PSG level, the most amazing thing about him is he never stops trying and is still getting better with every training session, there’s nothing he isn’t willing to try. His attitude has allowed training to make his basic paces into big horse-like paces and movements that were totally unnatural to him are now second nature.
Some things will never change, he is still awful to clip, will knock you into next week if he’s scared and at shows he’s known as the high maintenance child. No one wants to hold him because he’s so rude and boisterous. If he was 17hh it wouldn’t be funny but he’s just such a lovely person and tries so hard for me in the arena that he can get away with it.
I’m very proud of our relationship, he has taught me what you can achieve with patience, trust and partnership. And that any horse at all can be successful with training. He has made so many dreams come true and I will be forever grateful to him for that. He’s my horse of a lifetime and I adore him.”