A bit about me…..

A bit about me…..


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




Helen Elizabeth Dutton one of our very talented sponsored riders pulled in a 7th and a 10th in the PSG at Somerford Premier League on the very talented but quirky Valde!!!

Tamara- Jane Davis‘s Arctic Mouse has been flying with Oliver Townend at Saracen Horse Feeds Houghton International Horse Trials!
This horse just gets better and better with age! 7th in a massive 3* section with lots of 4* horses and to top it off part of the silver winning nations cup for team 🇬🇧

Not to mention all the wonderful happy FB updates that I’ve seen this weekend where you guys have been pulling in the reds at Warrington and more locally at Foxes BD and Prospect Farm!

#proudsponsor #proudphysio #superstarhorses
#wirralvetphysio #Britishdressage #Britisheventing

But … My saddle was made to measure!!

But … My saddle was made to measure!!

This is something I am hearing a lot at the moment, and i am happy to hear that so many of my clients have had saddle professionally fitted to their horses!

However there is a but…. and that is the saddle only fits that horse if the said horse does not change shape!  By shape I mean muscle up – develop a good topline, or even lose topline, gain or lose weight, or develop a low grade lameness which can cause muscular asymmetry affecting the saddle!

This time of year I tend to see horses drop weight and topline, usually due to the cold weather preventing work, lack of winter turnout, or bald winter paddocks with a lack of grazing.

The last couple of winters have been extremely mild, in terms of the cold that is, not the mammoth amount of torrential rain we have endured this winter.  Maybe we have been riding more, feeding more with many winter grazing fields being closed due to flooding, but I can honestly say that the horses of Wirral have never looked better coming out of winter!!

Great news!!

Unless you are one of those poor horse owners that looks at your horses now, and is dreading summer grazing!

So back to the point of this post…..

Over the last few weeks I have been asked to see numerous horses displaying abnormal behaviour under saddle, anything from bolting to bucking! As you know from my previous blog I routinely check saddle fit as part of the assessment.

I have seen numerous saddles over the last few weeks that have been professionally fitted, or even made to measure that simply put do NOT fit now!  I am sure once upon a time they fitted perfectly, but not any more, this isn’t to say that they will never fit again, or cannot be adjusted to fit at this moment in time.

So how does poor saddle fit affect the horses?

What I am seeing at the moment with horses carrying excess winter weight is saddles that are tight across the withers, (imagine wearing a shoe 2 sizes to small then being asked to run 5K! ouch!!) when riding the horse the rider may feel like they are slipping or being pushed to the back of the saddle.  On palpation what i generally feel is pain or spasm through the withers and a degree of tension through the back where the panels of the saddle end, this is due to the weight distrubution of the rider not being even, and the weight actually being pushed to the back of the saddle which can cause pain and bruising as well as reduce the engagement of the hind quarters.  The tightness over the withers can restrict scapular movement and result in a shortened, choppy stride in the front.

So the horses may respond to the restriction by hollowing through their back, taking shorter strides, refusing to take up a contact, an inability or reluctance to bend as well as any host of out of the ordinary behaviour issues!

While I’m talking about saddle fit I may as well tell you how a saddle which is too wide can affect the horses and rider too!  The rider may feel like they are being pushed forwards when riding, this is due the tree, or gullet being too wide.  The front of saddle will dip in dig in behind the shoulder causing pinching as the rider rises in trot, the back of the saddle will often lift up and down and can cause soreness and soft tissue bruising.

There are a multitude of other saddle fitting issues that I could address but we could be here all day!

So how can physio help….

Physio can relieve the pain caused from poor saddle fit, this is usually cleared in one or two sessions for low grade pain, I tend to treat with a variety of manual techniques, electrotherapy and home exercises to stretch out the sore muscles.  But of course there is no point me treating your horse if the same saddle is going straight back on!

So if your horses has put weight on recently take a minute to have a good look at how the saddle fits, if in doubt seek the help of a professional!

Any questions regarding Physio for your horses, or how it can benefit your horse give me a call!!

Sponsored Rider Updates!

Sponsored Rider Updates!

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”

helen valde

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!!!

mouse Rock


Equipilates™ Courses now being run in Wirral

Equipilates™ Courses now being run in Wirral

*** Equipilates™ course***

5 week course starting on Tues 7th June 7-8pm

To be held at Pam’s Pony Parties in Park Lane, Meols, Wirral, CH47 8XX

Cost for the 5 weeks is £40 (limited spaces!)

Ever wanted to improve the ridden relationship with your horse? By using equine specific Pilates we can address your alignment, core and breathing as well as improving strength and flexibility!

A (livery) debt well paid!……. Beeston pony to dressage superstar!

A (livery) debt well paid!……. Beeston pony to dressage superstar!

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.”

Pin It on Pinterest