Cross Training – What is it all about & why is it so important for EVERY horse?

No matter what discipline, if any, a horses’ training programme needs to be fully balanced and progressive to include all aspects of fitness (cardiovascular, speed, stamina, endurance, strength, suppleness, flexibility, coordination, agility, balance), plus working through the scales of training; rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, collection, and improvement of skill level. A training programme needs to progressively overload the systems of the body for optimal and functional adaptation. Training and conditioning for all disciplines is a very fine balance between optimal adaptation and an overuse injury. Trying to work on all of these factors within one discipline can only be done through repetitive movements which is the major cause of overuse injuries such as ligament issues, mainly suspensory, tendon issues, muscle strain, wear and tear on the joints.

What is cross training?

Cross training involves adding different types of exercise, movement, disciplines or modalities into a training routine to achieve an overall more rounded fitness level and set of skills that the body can then call on when needed. If a horse is constantly trained dressage on a perfectly harrowed surface, one day for some reason there is a rut on the surface or a slightly hard patch due to frost or drought, causes the horse to roll on its step that it is not used to doing which takes the limb rotation into a different plane it is not used to, this can cause a strain on the DDFT or other soft tissues for example. If this horse was regularly ridden on varied or uneven terrain, grass, roads, hardcore, its tissues of the limbs in particular would be better conditioned to the variety in movement and would have no issue in coping with this minor anomaly in the surface.

Why cross train?

In human research athletes who specialise in a single sport had an 85% higher chance of injury than those who that do multiple activities (McGuine et al. 2017), this is expected to be higher in horses.

For a horse specialised in an individual discipline (ie exclusively a show jumper, exclusively a dressage horse), the repeated loading and strain from the one particular movement in one plane, doing the same thing day in day out will have the same effect. But also repeated riding in a poor movement pattern or with compensatory mechanisms in play being repetitively overloaded will also cause training overload associated injury, e.g. lack of flexibility, suppleness, fitness, subtle lameness/ unsoundness or asymmetry, pain, unbalanced rider as a one off may not cause much of a problem to the horse but if this is a repeated pattern will lead to injury. Hence, this is also another major reason for:

a.) Having your horse regularly checked and treated by an advanced qualified and experienced equine physical therapist to pick up on these minor anomalies in symmetry, posture etc. and correct these before they are repetitively loaded, affect performance, and cause lameness.

b.) having a coach that is dedicated to your horses’ correct way of going, global body mechanics and correct rider biomechanics rather than getting you to jump that big jump, perform movements that neither rider or the horse are ready for.

Cross training also allows for muscle recovery time, allowing the horses body time to repair and replace any damaged tissues.  DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) caused by build up of lactic acid that the body needs to remove and repair of muscle and free radical damage takes around 48 – 96 hours, replacement of muscle glycogen takes around 48 – 72 hours. Other types of exercise can be done within this time just not the same type of repetitive loading and alternative exercise and movement can actually help with these times.

Therefore, we cross train so we can continue to work them just in a different way, to work on different aspects of the scales of training or fitness to prevent excessive overload, to give them a better rounded education and to protect them against injury:

For horses cross training is adding a variety of exercises and training:

  • Non-training related exercise – e.g. turn out, which has proven to be protective against lameness
  • Varying surfaces – helps with tissue adaptation and also educates the horse in matters of proprioception and coordination which, again, helps to protect against lameness
  • Stable exercises – good as a baseline before introducing other types of exercise and training, without the weight of the rider or challenge of movement. They increase flexibility, improve strength and endurance of the muscles and most importantly they switch on correct neuromuscular pathways. These include exercises such as active baited stretches, isometric contractions; ask your equine physical therapist for more and appropriate prescriptive specific exercises that are appropriate at the present time for your individual horse
  • Proprioceptive training – poles, bending, inclines, declines, circles, surfaces, again ask your physical therapist about specific proprioceptive training for your horse and their individual stage of development
  • Ground work and other work off the horses back – including lunging (video on correct use of lunging coming soon, keep a eye on social media for more info), long reining, straightness training, classical training
  • Cross discipline – a dressage horse going on a farm ride, hacking, a happy hacker having a little jump, a show jumper learning piaffe, half pass etc. puts the body into a different range of motion that can be extremely beneficial to aspects of fitness and help the body to avoid injury. The engagement to work on these movements can also help to increase overall suppleness and flexibility and it can always help to be able to make a jump off turn by a stride of leg yield that the horse is used to doing instead of having to perform a sharp turn which can be very damaging to limbs so it can help avoid injury in this way too.
  • Psychological benefits of cross training is also surmountable – it helps to prevent sourness and staleness of a particular discipline.

Overall, to prevent injury, for your horses health, fitness, sanity, and increasing their performance in your chosen discipline, cross training is essential for long term benefits.

Why is rider biomechanics so important?

Rider biomechanics is such a massive subject area and one that I am very passionate about, but I don’t want to get in too deep in a simple blog but it is important to me not only as a coach, trainer and rider, but also as an equine physical therapist, it is such an essential aspect of riding that for some reason is so often over looked by coaches. Everyone knows that poor riding can have a negative effect on the horse, their health and way of going. No one likes to think of themselves as a “poor rider” but to me this includes poor rider biomechanics too, as this can massively have a negative influence on the horse. Its not just about having a pretty position it is so much more than that.

So many riders have been taught incorrectly or using out of date research over many years and this has become their body’s default riding position. There is now so much more data that shows how we need to sit, our weight aids, posture, harmony, neutrality, and now it is not been corrected by many coaches and because you can now “ride” you go to coaches that are going to get you jumping higher, wider, bolder, braver, doing higher level dressage moves etc., rather than concentrating on these foundations and the basics of your own biomechanics which if they are not correct, your centre of balance is in the wrong place, your weight aids are incorrect, the horse can’t carry you properly in balance, or you cause him to brace through his back, blocking him, which affects his dynamic posture, he doesn’t move right which over time leads to a long term compensatory lameness issues, but not because of his own compensations (he has those to deal with as well any way!), but because of compensating for you. So in a nutshell; YOU CAN MAKE YOUR HORSE LAME! I see it so often, more often than I would like. Even in some riders at quite a high level, they don’t understand why their horse is blocked through the back when they ride, struggles with certain movements and I can feel it when I come to treat them. Then when I strip everything back and watch them ride, look at their biomechanics on the horse it all becomes obvious. Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks to their dynamics here and there and it can make a massive difference to the horses comfort and way of going.

A lot of the time when I first start coaching people I take lots of photographs and video’s and use an app called the coaches eye so I can slow everything down, draw on it and show riders exactly where the issues lie, and we can compare the beginning of the session to the end, or in a few sessions time to see the differences that such small alterations make to the horses performance. So often when riders look at videos people take of them they are looking at the horse; is his head in the right position, how much is he clearing the fence by, etc. not at themselves, or they can pick out their flaws but are not sure how to correct them, and some are completely oblivious that their posture is causing the horse to shorten his stride, tighten on the left side etc.

Studies have shown correct seat and position are the basis for a good performance. One study in particular aimed to measure deviations from the correct seat, test a seat improvement program (dismounted exercises), and investigate whether horse behaviour was affected by the rider’s seat and found that in particular improvement of backward tilted pelvis, which I see very often, showed a reduction in horse behaviour classed as “evasive,” and the horses’ heart rate decreased (elevated heart rates are associated with stress and pain). Heart rates of riders decreased therefore it was a either a lot less effort for them to ride in a biomechanically more efficient posture or it was less stressful for them too when the horse is less evasive. 78% of riders felt the exercises improved their riding performance.

It also applies if you have any physical medical issues, tightness, old injuries in your body that affect what you can do, your posture, movement etc. This is when you need to go see a good human body worker yourself, get yourself sorted, as again you will be affecting your horse. Most people put their horse first but there is no point in getting the horse treated if their problem is being caused by you. I work in conjunction with some really fantastic human bodyworkers so that together, both specialists in our own field can get you and your horse to be happier, healthier, sounder, in better harmony and balance so that you can achieve your goals.

Everything you should know about fascia and it’s implications for training

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Fascia is often the forgotten tissue of the musculoskeletal system and until relatively recently was thought to be irrelevant.  However, a greater understanding of horse movement, injury, perception, coordination, transmission of muscle force, biomechanics and the adaptations of the fascial system, have shown the importance of this tissue.  There is not a vast amount of research into the equine fascial system, but human fascia research has become more prevalent over recent years as its importance has become more apparent. More research into equine fascia is coming through, however some of the human data can be extrapolated for use in the equine sphere, as in 2017 Skalec & Egerbacher investigated the structure and innervation of the deep fascia of the equine forelimb.  Using dissection, histology and immunohistochemistry, they found that the general structure of the equine forelimb fascia corresponds to the characteristics of the human limb fasciae. However, Ahmed et al. in 2019, examined the histological differences between horse and dog fascia at specific regions compared with the human model, finding equine fascia exhibits a tight, dense composition, while in the dog’s is looser with non‐dense structure.  Equine fascia appears to be different from canine and human fascia, whilst canine fascia is very comparable to the human model.  This shows the need for more specific equine fascia research.

The Fascial System The fascial system in horses, people and dogs is an intricate complex interconnected network of tissue encompassing all fibrous connectie tissue, enveloping muscles, bones and organs individually and connecting them. fascia Fascia wraps around nerves, blood vessels and other structures forming an uninterrupted, three-dimensional web. This continuous mesh travels through the entire body as one net with no separation from top to toe, or from skin to core.  Fascia keeps the body organised, creating shape and function, and is therefore involved in overall musculoskeletal health.  It holds the musculoskeletal system together, pulling in on tissues as they press out as a tensegrity system. Due to the proprioceptive capacity of fascia and its influence on sensation signals between body and brain, the fascial system can be classed as the largest sensory tissue, therefore is required for structural integration, stability, balanced movement and postural compensation.  It is the organ of stability and mechano-regulation determining how a body is able to move and is necessary for muscles to function with approximately 30% of force transmission occurring through fascia.  Findley et al., 2015 studied the transmission of muscle force to fascia during exercise and found that substantial forces are experienced laterally through fascial tissues when muscle shortens. Fascias’ composition is varied depending on its location and role within the body.  Most is composed of dense, closely packed collagen fibres in layers of thick fibrous bundles with sparse elastic fibres covered by loosely woven laminae of areolar connective tissue. Nerve fibres and blood vessels are throughout; numerous in the areolar tissue but scarcer in the compact layers.  However, some fascia is extremely intricate like the delicate meningeal fascia of the nervous system. Fascias’ multi-layered composition of various densities, textures, molecular and cellular components is thought to facilitate resistance to gravitational forces, volume changes and transmission of muscle force during movement.  Deep profunda fascia under the superficial layer is dense fibrous sturdy tissue in some areas but is less developed in others.  Some deep fascia supports core structures such as the dura matter, mediastinum, pericardium, diaphragm and pelvic floor. Deep fascia can be divided into 2 types; aponeurotic and epimysial fascia.  The aponeurotic fascia envelops muscles connecting them, forming compartments of limbs and fascia septae between muscle groups, it  is thick and tightly attached to the underlying muscle, while the epimysial fascia is specific for each muscle defining it.  In areas of force transmission and movement change, stability is needed; these areas are covered with aponeurotic fascia, e.g. the lumbar back and ventral line. In areas where more movement is needed, fascia is thinner, providing proprioception for refined movement. Retinacula areas are all over the body, which sense movement and posture precisely. Microscopically  crimping of collagen fibres is visible in horse fascia, and histology reveals species variations between horse and dog fascia are related to the absence/presence of superficial adipose tissue and the amount of elastic fibres. Dysfunction of the Fascial System Good musculoskeletal function depends on pliability of the fascia, not just for movement but for sensory input, as the sensory nerves communicate between muscles and the central nervous system are found in fascia. When fascia is well-functioning, fibres slide and glide over one another allowing the fascia to move in all directions.  When it becomes disorganised, strained or dehydrated, its ability to glide is impaired, it loses its flexibility leading to reduced range of motion in muscles and joints. Areas of tissue become thickened and tug on the fascial network further up the chain and when the body moves with tension fascia thickens and stiffens even further.  The cause can be a natural consequence of trauma or injury, repetitive actions, inflammation, or immobility or when the body is forced to show movements its tissues are not prepared for.  Fascia adapts to restricted patterns and spreads it throughout the horse’s entire system beginning the cycle of restriction producing more restriction.  The result is fascia no longer has as much give contributing to overall musculoskeletal pain.  In turn this leads to local and global problems in the body, signals about joint position and muscle coordination falter causing acute and chronic imbalance, myofascial imbalance, joint, venous and lymphatic dysfunction.  This also accounts for the compensations that are seen in the body which can occur far away from the source; therefore restriction can be in one or several movement directions and will affect more than just that area. Fascia Training for Specific Disciplines Trainers of all equestrian disciplines are interested in finding a movement that is free and as effective as possible without compromising other areas of horse health. To achieve this, fascia needs to function well.  Depending on how the horses’ body is used, demolition and building will happen as fascia adapts to these changes applied to it. Peak limb force is a major determinant of the strain placed on the musculoskeletal tissues of the limbs. The peak load that can be withstood by the limbs limits maximum speed.  Every cell in the body is hooked into, and responds to the tensional environment of the fascia. The extra-cellular matrix of the fascia is capable of remodelling itself in a variety of ways, in response to direct signalling from the cells; injury; long-held mechanical forces; use patterns, gravity; and chemistry within the body. If mechanics are altered the cells can change their function.  The intricacies of fascia remodelling are still being researched but knowledge of tensegrity (tension and integrity) and remodelling is the future basis for therapy and discipline specific training.  Change the demand on the fascial system, by training for specific discpline or sport, and it responds to that new demand for optimal posture and function essential for the demands of the discipline.  It also means small problems can be prevented from escalating into larger issues and to help the long-term consequences of injury. When thinking about discipline specific fascia training, fascial elasticity is also an important element to consider.  Fascial elasticity is stored and returned quickly so is only a factor when the motion is cyclic and quickly repeated, such as galloping, but not when the repetitive cycle is too slow.  Building in this elasticity requires putting demand on the tissues slowly. The fascial system responds better to variation than to a repetitive program. Evidence suggests that the fascial system is better trained by a wide variety of adjustments in angle, tempo, load, etc. Working in one track may be useful for muscles but is not beneficial for fascia. Loading the tissue one way means it will injure more easily when a movement out of its usual line occurs. This is vital to consider when thinking of a flat race horse where training is linear, with little if any cross training, variety is low and movement is highly repetitive.  Exercises that focus repetitively on the same range or plane of motion cause fascia to become sticky and thick, limiting glide which causes some of the dysfunction previously discussed. This is also important to consider at the elite end of dressage where demand to get the precise technical movements faultless, such as piaffe for example, can mean some highly repetitive training.   Not only that, the variation in forces of different movements change physiological demand, for example, in passage, there are higher vertical impulses than in collected trot, causing greater elevation of the centre of mass therefore greater ground force reactions. Forelimb and hind limb vertical force distribution determines the position of the centre of pressure. Horses are thought to adjust force magnitudes in order to control movements around the centre of mass the fascial systems proprioceptive and adaptive precision is thought to play a large role in this.  Elite dressage horses may also not be getting the same multidisciplinary exercise they were at the lower levels. A logical training regime based on applicable, variable strategies providing different movement directions and exercises at each horse’s level will help fascia develop well and remain healthy.  Seven myofascial lines have been found in the horse, whole body movements that engage these chains are the best way to train the fascial system and cross discipline training will help get the variation in movement required.  According to Myers 2009 looking at human fascial training these methods include exercises of adaptive movement; due to the role of fascia in proprioception and kinaesthetics, proximal initiation; starting movements with a dynamic pre-stretch, initiation in the desired direction and letting the more distal parts of the body follow in sequence, like an elastic pendulum, however this is difficult to achieve with horse.  Also surface tissue stimulation to enhance proprioception; rubbing and moving the skin and surface tissues to enhance fascial proprioception can be extremely effective.  This is due to the multitude of sensory nerve endings, which may also help to communicate to the nervous system there is no longer need for tension in the area, also the basis of some fascial release techniques which aim to improve the slide and glide of the tissues, hydrating them through compressing and releasing. This pushing on fascia between bones, muscles, organs, and nerve fibres has been shown to free mobility more than passive stretching alone.  Research shows that due to the influence of myofascial release on the nervous system, it largely helps with the baseline tone of muscles too. spock3 (2) A well hydrated fascia network plays an enormous role in overall fitness too, so it is vital that the facial system is fully functional and well trained.   Management and overall state of health also has a big effect on the fascia such as amount of turnout so the horse can get the chance to use its body freely, in many different ways, on different surfaces and terrain. Conclusion The effect of a healthy fascial system on the horses’ body as a whole has been shown to be highly relevant, and an important factor to consider when training horses’, be it for racing, show jumping, eventing, barrel racing or dressage.  For example in flat racing good fascia health is required so the whole of the musculoskeletal system is working at maximum effectiveness to get the speed and stamina required.  In the dressage horse the refinement and precision that comes from the sensory and proprioceptive capacities of the fascial system are of highest importance.  A need to ensure the fascial system is not over looked, as it has been in the past, has been highlighted in this review. It is extremely important when choosing training methods to ensure fascia training is taken into account, consequently all the structures of the musculoskeletal system will be supported and enhanced by a well maintained fascial network in the course of the horse’s education, as well as helping refine the skills involved in each discipline and preventing injury.  Developing better fascial training plans based on the demand of each individual equestrian sport can extend functional movement up the age scale to ensure career longevity future proofing the horse.  More equine specific research relating to fascial response to specific training is required so more specific equine exercises can be developed.

The Animal Therapy Hub


Cheshire Equine Therapy is very proud to present it’s retail site, The Animal Therapy Hub Ltd.  This is somewhere you can go to get advise about numerous scientifically based therapeutic products from many brands from all over the globe such as Back on Track, Premier Equine, Zandona, Rock Tape, Hotter Dog, Equ streamz, Photizo and many more.  With more brands and products being added on a weekly basis to provide you with a one stop shop to be able to compare many different products that use different modalities such as magnetic, infrared, kinaesthetics & red light therapy.  Additionally, we want to help with anything performance and training related so you will also find products to help and guide in this respect too.  As it is always nice to be able to look at and feel the products before buying on line, if you live in Cheshire or surrounding areas we can come to see you for a no obligation demo.  We will fetch our range of demo products to you and we can measure up to ensure you are getting the correct sizing and correct products for what you are trying to achieve.  You will also be able to find our trade stand at local shows and events.  Sign up to our news letter on the website www.theanimaltherapyhub.com and you can also find us on facebook, twitter and Instagram to find out where we will be and when, latest research, newest products & special offers.  Happy shopping.


BHS North West Camp 2016 at Aintree Racecourse


I was asked to attend the BHS North West Camp at the fabulous Aintree Racecourse.  I think it is fair to say that a good time was had by all.  Campers had some great lessons with some brilliant instructors in amazing surroundings with beautiful weather.  I was there giving help, advice and mini consultations to those who wanted it (not treatments as there was not enough time and no veterinary referral).  Some lovely horses and riders of varying levels, everyone was really friendly I would highly recommend to anyone wanting a good all round camp to attend with lots going on.  The BHS is a great charity and it is getting better and better all the time.  As I am a BHS registered instructor if you want to join the BHS you can now do it through me. As a member the biggest benefit is the free public liability and personal accident insurance and the free legal helpline, well worth the membership fee you couldn’t buy the insurance cheaper than the membership cost and it is really comprehensive. You never know when your horse is going to cause an accident, accidentally hurt someone or yourself so at least you know you are covered. Plus all the other benefits too, free/discounted tickets to big events, regional events, access to education, BHS magazine, & more. If you want anymore information let me know next time I’m at your yard.  Keep an eye on when the next camp will be.  If you are organising a camp of any description for adults, children, various disciplines, various levels and you would like me to attend for a talk, demo, painted horse, consultations etc. let me know well in advance so can get it booked in.

Pictures below courtesy of Brian Heyes Photography


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Camps 2015

We did our first camp with Kirsty Edwards from Fit2Ride on the weekend of 14th August 2015 at her yard in Nantwich. Great fun was had by all along with lots of learning.  This camp was focussing on core work for rider and horse. Participants began with group equipilates with Kirsty, then a painted horse demo with me where we did a bit of anatomy and physiology, hopefully not too much to bore participants to death, but enough to give a basic understanding for when we moved on to the next section based in the class room where I taught some of the foundations for keeping their horses back and musculoskeletal system in good condition, & theory behind the practical in the afternoon. In the practical participants learned how to check their horses back, how to check their saddle fit and carrying out some basic massage and stretches  for their horses to help keep them in top condition, and they practised these on their own horses.  Kirsty did individual mounted pilates sessions  then she did a mobility, breath and relaxation group session for the riders.  For tea that night we all went to a gorgeous local pub the Combermere Arms for some top nosh.
In the morning Kirsty began with individual postural assessments, then I gave individual lessons on using ridden pole work to engage the horses core, then I continued this theme in the next group session of teaching the participants how to use ground work and pole work from the ground to engage the horses core.  Have a look at some of the pictures below.  The next camp is planned for 9th – 11th October 2015 then this will be the last one for the year, they will restart again in April next year when the weather should be getting better again! If you are interested in booking on this last camp for this year let me know as we only take a small number of participants so you get a more one-2-one experience, which means places fill up quickly.  Looking forwards to seeing you there 🙂

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painted bondo

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Why choose us to look after your horses’ back and musculoskeletal care?

  • CHPHighly qualified
  • Vast experience with horses of all ages, breeds, sports, injuries and problems; both physical and bahavioural
  • Multimodal whole body treatments – i.e. not just physio, not just massage, not just body work, not just McTimoney, and not just working on the spine area.  We use all of these therapies and many more integrated depending on what your individual horse needs to give a better holistic whole body treatment.  This enables us to get to the root cause of the issue rather than just treating the symptoms.  Therapies include McTimoney manipulation, equine body work, sports and remedial massage, stretching and mobilisation, myofascial release, Reiki, t-touch, kinaesthetic taping
  • Also, a qualified and experienced coach, trainer and rider gives further insight to help your overall performance
  • We get fantastic results and great customer feedback with horses feeling freer, more supple, more agile and fitter, with improved performance, fewer injuries, better recovery, and improved career longevity.
  • Reliable, knowledgable, friendly, professional service, fully insured, competitive prices, group discount available, no travel costs within 5 mile radius of Crewe/Nantwich
  • For your convenience early morning appointments, evening appointments, and weekend appointments available
  • Appointments available for overall check ups, general maintenance, as part of poor performance invesigations, or to aid specific areas of pain, strain and other issues
  • Call, text, email or pm to book or discuss your horse – Michelle Woolrich, 07515 552 694, mcheers@cheshireequinetherapy.co.uk, find us on Facebook & Twitter

Clinic’s, lecture’s, talk’s, demo’s – Spring/Summer 2015

Want to get your horses’ back & musculoskeletal system checked, but want to keep the costs as low as possible?

Want to get your horse to their peak physical health & increase their longevity,

but not sure where to start or if you are doing the right thing?

Do you want to learn:

  • How to assess your horse to pick up any areas of problems
  • How to assess your tack and saddle fit
  • What you can do to help?
  • Learn some massage, stretching, riding and training techniques
  • Learn how physical therapy can help?
  • Learn more about the do’s and don’ts from a musculoskeletal point of view

Why not organise a clinic, demo, talk or lecture at your livery yard, riding school, pony club, place of work?

For little cost, this could make a big difference to your horse.

  • As the organiser, your horse can be used as the demo horse, so gets some treatments and assessments done free on this day, but also gets their next session half price.
  • Anyone attending who makes a booking on the day will receive a 10% discount
  • We provide poster for you to advertise, and tickets if required.
  • You don’t need any special facilities (although a well lit indoor space would be useful in case of bad weather – indoor barn, school, or large stable etc.)
  • Cost: all I ask is that my travel fees are covered (this can be worked out when organising) and that everyone attending makes a minimum contribution of £2 which will be donated to an equine charity
  • Contact today to book in, first come first served, once all available dates for 2015 spring/summer are gone, bookings will be taken for 2016.

Contact Michelle for more information

December Issue of Everything Horse UK Magazine

Part 2 of my series on musculoskeletal injuries is in this months Everything Horse UK Magazine on page 22, this month looking at muscle injury. If you missed part 1 on tendon injury you can still catch up on line. Lots of other great articles too plus the Christmas gift guide. Well worth a read. http://www.joomag.com/magazine/everything-horse-uk/0225542001417542577?preview

What can Cheshire Equine Therapy do for me?

I am always being asked are you able to do this, and can you do that ? So just to clear up any misconceptions a few of the more common “can you . . .” questions

Can you tell me what is wrong with my horse?

I can tell you that your horse has issues/pain in certain places, I can show you that they are not moving correctly, and I can treat them using the techniques I am qualified to use, I can give you useful exercises to relieve their discomfort and aid their recovery,  but I can not give you a diagnosis, this is something that ONLY a veterinarian can do. If you are seeing another therapist and they are diagnosing problems with your horse they are doing this against the law.  I may make suggestions of z, y and z things that I think the problem could possibly be based on the symptoms I am seeing/palpating but can never diagnose, as I do not have x-ray eyes or magical blood tests! Sometimes I may give you a few hints such as, “He is carrying a little extra weight, has he ever had laminitis before?”, or “next time your vet comes you may just want to ask them about . . . or to have a look at  . . .”, but I am not allowed to say your horse definitely has laminitis/ kissing spines etc., just recommend that you ask your vet, and I will do my best to ease their pain in the mean time.

Can you check my tack?3. Check everything fits

I have completed some cpd courses and additional learning in saddle fitting so I know my way around a saddle and can normally spot areas where there are tack fitting problems.  If required, I will recommend getting a fully qualified master saddler in to correct any problems, as they know a lot more than me.  I work very closely with an excellent saddler so if you think your tack maybe an issue mention it to me at my next visit, I can have an initial check and refer you over to my saddler if required.

Can you recommend a feeding regime for my horse?

NO. Even though I do have a good rounded knowledge of nutrition it is not my area of expertise so I would always recommend contacting a equine nutrition specialist, which is what I do for my own horse! Most of the leading feed manufacturers have help lines for that purpose or you can email them.  Sometimes I will recommend particular joint or mobility supplement or electrolytes but that is about as far as it goes.

Can you give me riding  lessons?

Yes. As a freelance fully qualified and highly experienced coach I am able to give you riding lessons on your horse at your location.  My particular areas of interest are show jumping, confidence issues (horse & rider), behavioural problems and being able to still improve horse and rider while rehabilitating injury.  I am up to date with equine specific first aid and child protection.  People seem to find my lessons fun, educational, useful,  and relevant for them and their horses’ individual needs.  They often say about how good it is that I am a physical therapist and an instructor as I can be helping them and their horse to improve on so many different levels –  from a physiological point of view, behavioural, fitness, suppleness stamina, skills, relaxation, equitation, and as I have competed on some level in most disciplines I can use this experience to help my clients achieve their goals.

Can you help me find a horse to buy?

Yes. I know the pain for trawling through the classifieds, going and trying out horse after horse and it just not being right, then you think you have found “the one” and it fails the vetting! I can help by taking some of the task over for you.  I like to see you ride so I know what sort of level horse you require and have an in depth discussion about your aspirations and goals for the horse you are wanting and within budget. I will then find appropriate horses and even go ride it first and if not suitable you don’t even have to leave your house.  When you do go to try a horse I can be there to ensure you purchase with your head not your heart.  I can do some initial basic checks and assessments so that when it comes to vetting time there hopefully shouldn’t be too many nasty surprises.

Can you help me to sell my horse?

Yes.  I can help through the entire process. I can give your horse a thorough assessment and if tweaks need to be made before sale such as some schooling, physical therapy, behavioural work, or even just a tidy up (mane pulling, bathing etc.) I can do all that, take the pics arrange adverts etc. and can even carry out the viewings for you. For a set fee or % of sale price.

I don’t know how to lunge/long rein/do ground work, and my horse has never been lunged before, can you teach me how to do it?

Yes. Being able to work your horse effectively from the ground is highly beneficial and provides some much needed variety to your work, but you must do it correctly in order to gain any benefit from it, and I can teach you how to do this.


Do you do any lectures, clinics or demo’s?

Yes, keep an eye on facebook, twitter, and the website for dates and venues, or alternatively if you would like to organise one for your yard, work place, riding club, college etc. please contact me to arrange.

(Pic is a painted horse I did showing the deep muscles of the horses body in preparation for a lecture series)



Can you school/compete my horse for me?


Yes. I can, I may not be the most aesthetically pleasing rider but I get the job done!  I love schooling and my own horse hates it she just wants to jump.  I am quiet but confident when I ride.  I enjoy schooling youngsters most, doing their basic training and show jumping, improving their skill level, confidence and fitness, at the same time ensuring their musculoskeletal system is developing correctly. If you need someone to complete your horse for you weather as a one off or on a regular basis I can do this, dressage up to medium level, BSJA up to Foxhunter level, BE up to Intermediate, local and county showing in hand and ridden classes. I can also help you prepare for competitions, planning your competition season, training, transport, grooms, entries, etc.

(Pic is me and my mare chilling between classes at riding club show)

If you have any more question not covered here or in the frequently asked questions section please fell free to call, email, facebook me.