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Frequently asked questions


Why might my horse need physiotherapy?

Basically, because horses aren't designed to be ridden, and I believe that all horses benefit from some therapeutic help to cope with the stresses and strains that riding puts them under. I have come to this view after many years of teaching, judging, riding and training my own and others' horses. Even a 'happy hacker' is doing a completely different job than that which nature intended, and I believe in giving our horses the best chance to work happily in their jobs and to minimise the risk of, or at least alleviate the effects of, musculo-skeletal problems. Also your physiotherapist might pick up a minor niggle before it becomes a bigger (and more expensive!) issue.

How often is physiotherapy needed?

This depends on your horse and his or her job. Leisure horses with a light workload benefit from a 'maintenance' session every few months or so. A competition horse or one who does regular school work would ideally be seen every 4-6 weeks, or more often if competing at a higher level.

Where there are veterinary issues and your horses is recovering from illness or injury, then we might need more frequent appointments depending on the issue. This would of course be in consultation with your vet.

If your horse has had, or is going to have, surgery e.g. for kissing spines, then , as well as other therapies, I can prescribe  strengthening exercises which can be done both before and after the operation, to help optimise recovery. Many of these can be done in the stable and can begin soon after surgery (with your vet's permission of course) so don't think that you have to wait several weeks  before calling in the physiotherapist - the sooner the better!

Is my vet's  permission required?

If your horse is fit and well and has no illness or injury then veterinary permission is not required for a 'maintenance' session, but should I find any issue such as lameness then I am obliged by law to refer to your vet.

In the case of illness or injury, or post-surgery, any physiotherapy can only take place after vet's referral.

Will my horse need a day off afterwards?

Usually I will recommend a day off, or a gentle day (such as walking hack on a long rein) after physiotherapy, so that your horse's body has time to adjust.

In the case of competition horses, I can offer a pre-competition session where I will amend what I do accordingly, so that they are ready to complete and do not require time off.

If I am seeing a new horse for the first time I would recommend that the session is at least 5-7 days before any competition, to allow them plenty of time to adjust to how their body is feeling.

How do I prepare for a session?

Please ensure that your horse is clean and dry (with no shiny coat products or hoof oil please!) and in a clean dry stable/barn/shelter with good footing. If your stable ceiling is very low I may need to work with your horse somewhere with a higher ceiling, or outside. Your horse should have a well-fitting headcollar and rope. If you are planning to ride your horse before I come, please check with me as some treatments work better if the horse has already cooled down after work.

How long does a session take?

A routine appointment usually takes 1-1.5 hours. Please allow longer, up to 2 hours, for an initial assessment (where I may ask to see your horse ridden or lunged), or for a full Masterson Method® session. Some follow-up appointments may be shorter, depending on what is required.

If you are on a tight timetable on the day I am coming please ensure that you let me know beforehand what time you need me to finish.

Can you tell me what is wrong with my horse?

No. I can tell you if your horse is not using himself optimally, and I can identify areas of strength or weakness, but it is NOT the job of the physiotherapist, or any other bodyworker, to diagnose. If your horse has an issue, or if you think there might be an issue, you should consult your vet in the first instance. (Likewise, should I find an isssue such as lameness, I will refer to your vet). I will then work with your vet on a treatment plan to ensure an optimal outcome.

Are you ACPAT registered? Are you qualified in human physiotherapy? 

No. My qualification is in Animal Physiotherapy (to Level 6, degree level equivalent), and I have done ALL my physiotherapy training in animals, specialising in horses (though I am also qualified to work on your dog). An ACPAT physiotherapist has trained initially in human physiotherapy and then upgraded their skills to work with animals.

Although I don't do 'hands on' for humans, I am a qualified Pilates instructor and have years of experience in teaching riders, so I can advise you on stretches and exercises for yourself as well as your horse.

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