I am currently in my second-year of University studying an Integrated Masters in Veterinary Physiotherapy.
From the age of seven, I took part in riding lessons at my local riding school. Then up until the start of University, I was able to work as a stable hand and instructor for beginner riders at a riding and livery centre, where I was able to mix with a large range of clients and horses. This got me thinking about the effect of having a range of different riders and abilities upon those horses. Other possibilities I questioned was the effects of repeating the same exercises throughout the week. If there was a possibility of causing repetitive strain injury (RSI) because of the horses’ bodies engaging in the same repetitive movement. As humans, we are told the importance of warming up and cooling down, but most riding schools have 30 to 45-minute lessons. Is that enough time for horses to able to warm up complete the exercise and cool down to prevent possible injury? Or is the intensity lower than exercises that a competition horse would complete so the lesson time would be ample for this process?
Due to my commitment as a stable hand, I was later asked to exercise a few horses on a local farm. This resulted in me being given the opportunity to gain experience in feeding livestock such as sheep and calves and mixing with working dogs.
However, once a week for a year, I volunteered at a canine hydrotherapy pool, where I was able to observe the longitudinal benefits of hydrotherapy and physiotherapy. Most of these dogs were companion animals, which was interesting to observe the different rapports with owner and dog especially compared to working dogs. Leading on from that I was able to interact with a large range of dogs with different requirements. My main role within the practice was washing each dog after a session, where I had to work out the best method for drying the dogs. For example, for the bigger thicker-haired dogs a dog hair dryer blaster would be used however, this wasn’t always an option for them. This was where I would focus on standard dryers (where appropriate) and towels.
During the next four years and beyond, I cannot wait to be able to apply the physiotherapy techniques that I have seen in practice on my own patients and understand why they work. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me using the “contact me” page.