Horse streching forelimb protraction


Physiotherapy is not an alternative, but an essential adjunct to conventional veterinary medicine. All horses can benefit from physiotherapy, from happy hackers to top competition horses (as can their riders!). Our specialism at The Horse Physio is in the links between physical findings, performance and behaviour, and we treat every horse as an individual. A detailed assessment, thorough treatment, and excellent communication between physio, owner, and other professionals involved in the horse-rider relationship is key to our success and popularity.

Sue says "A horse can only communicate discomfort through his behaviour. For the horse to work at his best, his joints and muscles must be functioning optimally, and I particularly enjoy working with horses on a regular basis to maintain or improve performance, and to reduce the risk of injury.

I want to 'press the right buttons' to trigger the body's own healing response. I'm not a surgeon so I won't take anything out. I'm not a medical practitioner so I won't put anything in. I believe that nature knows best, and that if the body is able to heal itself then it will do so given the right conditions and encouragement.
My ethos in life is one of no violence, and I will not try to force the body in any way. I believe in prevention rather than cure, and I know that stress reduces the ability to heal. For this and other reasons I work with the horse rather than against him, aiming for relaxation as part of the treatment process."
Hand massaging bay horse back
The standard assessment and treatment, lasting approximately 1.5hrs, includes a detailed discussion of the horse's history, gait analysis, assessment of both limb and spinal range of movement, palpation, discussion of findings, appropriate treatment, follow up advice and exercises and a written report.

The superior assessment and treatment, lasting approximately 3hrs, includes everything in the standard treatment, plus observation of lungeing and ridden work if appropriate.

Follow up treatments last approximately 1hr.

Physiotherapy is comprised of a collection of scientifically researched skills:

  • Manual therapy (e.g. massage, mobilisation and manipulation)
  • Electrotherapy (e.g. ultrasound, laser and neuromuscular stimulation)
  • Exercise and movement (e.g. hydrotherapy and gait re-education)

Sue will use a selection of these as appropriate to your horse’s circumstances. She may give you some in-hand exercises to do with your horse, or some simple massage or stretches as follow-on work. This will help consolidate the treatment to optimize your horse’s recovery, performance, and overall well-being.

For some horses just one session will provide relief or flag up related issues that need to be addressed (for example, saddlery or veterinary concerns), others need more treatment to support ongoing issues or underlying weaknesses. All horses can benefit from regular treatment, and many of Sue’s clients schedule routine appointments throughout the year. This serves to maintain (or improve) performance, to reduce the risk of injury, and to give peace of mind for the client., as they will know that any problems that arise will be recognised and addressed at an early stage, before they become problematic or cause the horse any major discomfort.

To book a treatment for your horse please check out details of our clinics. If you have any questions or comments, please email Sue.
The Law

The title 'Animal or Veterinary Physiotherapist' is not protected by law which means that anyone can in theory call themselves an animal or veterinary physiotherapist regardless of their qualifications. However, the title 'Chartered Physiotherapist' is protected by law and can only be used by physiotherapists who have achieved a high level of academic and practical training in all aspects of physiotherapy, such as Sue Palmer

An animal physiotherapist should work alongside your veterinary surgeon to provide the best possible treatment for your animal. Members of the ACPAT will always work in co-operation with the Veterinary Surgeon. (NB: It is illegal for anyone other than the owner to treat a horse without the veterinary surgeon's consent).
Brown and white shetland pony head shot
Physiotherpay of grey horse in a menage

Click on the image to watch the Initial Assessment video.

Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966

The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery. 'Veterinary surgery' is defined within the Act as encompassing the 'art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine' which includes the diagnosis of diseases and injuries in animals, tests performed on animals for diagnostic purposes, advice based upon a diagnosis and surgical operations which may not necessarily form part of a treatment. These restrictions are in the interests of ensuring that animals are treated only by people qualified to do so. (PDF Copy of Veterinary Act - Click here)

The Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order states: -

1. The Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 1962 allows for the treatment of animals by 'physiotherapy', provided that the animal has first been seen by a veterinary surgeon who has diagnosed the condition and decided that it should be treated by physiotherapy under his/her direction.

2. 'Physiotherapy' is interpreted as including all kinds of manipulative therapy. It therefore includes osteopathy and chiropractic but would not, for example, include acupuncture or aromatherapy.