Equine Veterinary Physiotherapist
As all young, horse-mad girls, I had idyllic dreams that when I grew up someone would pay me to gallop around on my pony, brush him all day long and win rosettes every weekend. All I ever wanted to do was be with horses.
After a few forays into different careers choices, I chose to do a degree in Equine Science at Brinsbury College in West Sussex. I loved the science side of horses, with a particular interest in biomechanics and kinetics. Many of my classmates had firm ideas of where they wanted to go after graduation, many ended up teaching or running yards.
I, however, ended up in marketing. I started working on a short-term contract in a charity to earn some money and enjoyed the fast-paced corporate world, the excitement of working in events and the financial reward was better than any horsey job could pay!
The next 12 years saw me working my way up the corporate ladder in a variety of marketing jobs, ending up in Dubai working on the largest healthcare event in the world. It was stressful, and quite frankly it got in the way of riding my beautiful Trakehner. I always had the horsey itch and knew I wasn’t happy sitting in an office all day. After researching on the internet I decided I wanted to be an Equine Physio. It had the perfect mix of science, horses, working for myself and being outside.
I had always been under the impression that you had to be a human physio first and then practice for two years before undertaking a full-time post-grad in animal physiotherapy. Having a full-time job and being reliant on the salary, that was impossible for me. Also, I never wanted to treat humans!
Thankfully, there is a different way. There is a lot of hearsay on this subject, and many owners are confused about the different awarding bodies, levels of training and titles. I am registered with The International Association of Animal Therapists. I studied with the College of Animal Physiotherapy, which was started by Sherry Scott MBE, the pioneer of Animal Therapy. To be able to complete this course, you must have a relevant degree and pass a board interview. You then complete 10 course work modules, have a months’ practical training, work shadow placements, a 12,000 word dissertation and finish with a practical and theory exam.
Completing my education this way meant I could take it at my own pace, extremely important for me as I managed to get married, move country twice, and have twins during the four years it took me to complete my course! Believe me, it was not the easy route. I spent many a night reading text books whilst feeding my babies, driving to practical days after 2 hours sleep and scrimping and saving to buy my machines!
I am fully insured and registered with the governing body (IAAT). Only individuals who have completed this form of training can be registered with this body. So owners need to check this out before using anyone. It is also illegal for any therapist to treat a horse with veterinary sign off. This is an important part of my job, and I ensure I always speak to the vet before treating a patient.
If you love horses and want a fulfilling career, I cannot recommend Equine Physiotherapy highly enough. If I had my time again, I would have gone straight from my degree into the post-grad (Hartbury do an excellent one), as doing it part time was very hard.
I can’t stress enough how much I love doing what I do. I am passionate about horses and keeping them fit and healthy. Horses are amazing creatures to treat as they hide their injuries beautifully! When I first see a patient, I spend an hour analysing their movement, how they feel under my fingertips, how the stand and quiz the owner about their way of going under the saddle. This enables me to treat with empathy and knowledge.
There are many routes to becoming a Equine Physiotherapist, none of them easy. I have upmost respect for ACPAT registered physios and think it’s fantastic that they can treat the rider at the same time, as sadly they can be the cause of many of the problems for the horse.
I treat across the South East. Please visit my website for more details www.pwequinephysio.co.uk