Hi, I’m Fizz and I manage the Equine Therapy Centre at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire. Based within the college’s equine centre, we specialise in exercised-based rehabilitation for horses with a range of musculo-skeletal injuries. We also have a major role as a learning resource for Hartpury students, and are heavily involved in research. My boss, Dr Kathryn Nankervis, typically has a number of projects running at any one time. So all in all, life is pretty busy.
Born and raised in the Scottish Borders, I started riding when I was 8 but being 1 of 4 girls, my parents couldn’t afford to buy us a pony. Instead I started working with horses when I was 13, spending all of my weekends and holidays at the livery yard on the Duke of Buccleuch’s Bowhill Estate where we lived. It was my Dad who got me this first job – I think he’s regretted that intervention ever since! I loved the whole business of caring for the horses as much as riding, and was taught from the outset to take pride in everything you do, a mantra which has stuck with me to this day.
After leaving school, I decided to back up my passion with an education and came to Hartpury College as a student in 2003, gaining a BSc (Hons) in Equine Science and a Masters in Equine Business Management. I worked right through university to fund my education and it was during these years that I got involved with the Equine Therapy Centre I now manage.
Over the years I’ve worked as head girl for many different yards, managing and training all manner of competition horses across the disciplines; from racehorses to dressage horses and pretty much everything in between. In 2010 I landed the job of assistant manager here. It had been involved in a couple of major accidents just before this, including suffering a neck fracture and a 6-month concussion, so I’d been forced review the direction of my career. I was so lucky to get the big break I needed, as opposed to the afore-mentioned ones I could have lived without!
In August 2013 I was promoted to centre manager and I have to say my job is pretty amazing and really varied. I take care of all aspects of running the centre, including managing our team, working alongside the vets and therapists, looking after our clients and making sure the horses have everything they need to give them the best chance of recovery. With my practical background, I love that I also still have the opportunity to ride and work the horses myself on a daily basis — I’d go mad if I was confined to the office all the time!
Horses come to us for all sorts of reasons. Some are relatively straightforward rehabilitation cases for injuries such as tendon or ligament lesions; others have a number of problems going on at one time, often including lameness, pain and the knock-on postural effects of these factors.
I have a small, amazing team of staff (see image above) and we work with a network of exceptional professionals who are individually involved with each case as needed depending on what the issues are. My job is basically to get everyone and everything in the right place at the right time!
I hope this blog will give you an insight into the lives of some of the horses who arrive at the centre, as well as the day-to-day comings and goings with all the other things we’re involved in. I can’t wait to get writing again so until next time, thanks for reading!