Ever wanted a career as a Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist and wondered what a typical day would include? Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist Kirsty Haines specialises in treating animals and equine clients make up about 75% of her caseload. She has been riding for more than 20 years and owns an Arab and a Shetland pony. She gives us an overview of what it’s like to be a Chartered Veterinary Physio below.
Ask anyone why they would visit a physio and some may say “bad back” but many will describe specific conditions such as tennis elbow, groin strain or arthritis. Some may have had the pleasure following a serious injury or operation.
Ask a horse owner why they would phone a physio and most will ultimately say “back’s out”! For many years, “the back lady” has visited yards up and down the country at varying intervals to keep our equine athletes on the road. But how many realise the truth behind muddy car, oodles of paperwork and sometimes quite amusing implements wielded at unsuspecting equines?
Well for any Chartered Physio the skills learnt to treat humans are ultimately the same as those used to treat horses, give or take. Yes the equipment may look different – is not as fancy and less, well, breakable. Knobs and switches kept at a minimum.
But the equipment you can’t see from the cogs constantly turning, analysing, piecing together, collating information, to the exceptionally well tuned, highly sensitive fingertips, constantly searching, testing, relaying to the cogs, that’s where the years of training have gone.
The hours spent in hospitals and clinics, prodding and poking human clients, refining the touch and learning to listen to what’s underneath. These are skills brought to your horse that should be exploited for all they’re worth.
The knowledge of injury and disease, the appreciation of what’s happening in the muscle, ligament or tendon tissue, the ability to think outside the box for all those non-conventional’s, that try as we might just won’t conform to what we want.
So although the first thought might be “he’s not right in his back”, think more about what’s going on elsewhere. The hindlimbs, the forelimbs, the head, neck and tail. Chartered physio’s look at them all.
Searching the tissues for any clue, building a picture, making a plan. A hindlimb lameness, a band of scar tissue, a restricted joint. Tendon strains, muscle tears, joint problems. Wounds that won’t heal. All may produce a stiffness, one sidedness, lack of impulsion. All can prevent reaching potential. All can be managed by physiotherapy techniques widely used in human therapy.
But that’s where the hard work starts. Following advice and carrying out daily exercises, stretches or movements. That’s where the owners come in. That’s what makes the difference. That’s what gives the lasting effect and brings about a long term change.
Kirsty Haines MSc MCSP ACPAT Cat A is a Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist practicing at Westfield Veterinary Physiotherapy, Tel: 0774 8788564, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Browse horses for sale or place an ad on Horsemart now.