Fizz Marshall’s therapy blog: open house at Hartpury’s equine therapy centre

  • There’s a different, much quieter feel around campus at the moment as it’s exam season here at Hartpury; lots of students have gone home and those who are still here are up to their eyes in revision.

    It’s also the time of year when we have a lot of different visitors through our doors. On Monday last week we had a group of equine science students from Sparsholt College in Hampshire. They were a really super crowd and asked lots of questions.

    Public speaking doesn’t really come naturally to me and I find it much easier if you can get people interacting and talking back to you. I think it makes it more interesting for the students too. Sparsholt’s Lorna Cameron is a great ‘friend’ of our centre and brings a group to see us every year. She does a great job of making sure they get the most out of the visit.

    On Wednesday it was the turn of 26 Dutch students, who came to have a look around as part of a wider tour of the college. They too were fantastic. They had a great attitude and seemed genuinely interested in what we had to show them. Their English was incredible, which I think helped them as much as me!

    These kind of visits and events are a huge part of our role within the college. Universities and colleges are like any other business in that way — they have to do their best to maintain their profile and position within their industry. There is no hard sell though. All of the things I talk about are just what we do, how and why we do it.

    Getting ready for summer

    Our other big task at the moment is preparation for Hartpury’s Summer Fair, which takes place on 7 June. It’s a huge day for the college and it gives us the opportunity to show what goes on here at the therapy centre to a much wider audience than we would normally.

    Our annual spring clean, paint and de-cobweb also ties in with this; all of our fixtures and fittings will be dusted, washed down and polished, including the staff and horses if they stand still long enough! Meaghan and I did a recce the other day of everything that needs to be done; we ended up with a list resembling the Dead Sea Scrolls…

    With only 3 weeks to go we’ve got a whole lot of work ahead of us, but it’s always worth it when the facelift is complete. As long as we can stop the horses from eating the hanging baskets on the run up to the big day we’ll be grand!

    A spot of moonlighting

    The other night I got a call from my best friend, who had a mare that was 10 days overdue foaling. The horse was restless and wandering around about 11pm and she reckoned that baby was on its way. She was right.

    As Jardi’s nominated ‘birthing partner’, I headed off up to the yard at 2mins to midnight after she’d phoned again to say that her waters had broken. By 12.30am we had witnessed the safe arrival of a beautiful black filly foal by Parco.

    When you’re caught up in the day-to-day business of regular horses, it’s easy to forget the wonder that comes with the first breaths of such a precious little creature. Although not so little in this case — her legs are so long she looks like a spider!

    I think Parco must have some gazelle in him somewhere too as she was apparently bounding from one side of the foaling box to the other by the morning… I think she may be a bit of a handful in the weeks and months to come.

    Getting to know you

    As I mentioned in my last blog, we’ve had a clutch of horses leave recently, which means that we have a new string of in-patients filtering into their places. Some of these have come directly from hospitalisation, others have been resting or working at home prior to admission.

    Cpation here

    Once a horse has settled in, they will have their first assessment with the vet or therapist

    We like to get them settled in before their first review with the vet or therapist. They will often arrive with a whole list of instructions to follow on how to best manage, feed and care for them. The way I look at it, the best we can do is to look after each one of them as if they were our own.

    I completely understand the worries of owners when sending their horse away, particularly when they’ve often already been through a lengthy diagnostic and treatment process prior to getting here.

    We often have a short space of time to achieve a lot with each horse and so it’s really important we figure out what makes them tick. From this we find out what approach we need to take when completing the work and treatment programme set out for us.

    Things can move on quickly with horses, and so it’s vital that even the smallest of changes in a leg, way of going, or soundness are noted and acted upon if necessary. Of course there is a degree of pressure, you’re only as good as your last case and so we just keep our heads down and try to do a good job of each one.

    Someone said to me last week: “So, are you guys any good?” I replied: “Well, our currently clients seem happy. We still have to prove it to the potential ones!”. I think Henry Ford put it well when he said: “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do”. Amen to that.


    Read all of Fizz Marshall’s therapy blogs

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