Fizz Marshall’s therapy blog: Hug a horse at work day

  • Well it’s been some week! Our osteopath Liz Launder was with us last Tuesday and having manipulated 2 horses with her we were feeling the effects of her visit for a few days afterwards. We call it manipulation, but really it is the use of mobilisation techniques to reinstate the range of movement in regions of the horse’s back that have become stiff.

    We do this under IV sedation administered by the vet and it takes between 5 and 8 people — even then you need to be feeling strong. From the outside I think it just looks like we’re just giving the horse a big hug! Liz will assess the functionality we need to restore prior to manipulation, and often has to think laterally about how we do it depending on what response she gets from the horse throughout the process.

    Dude: (l) before; (r) after

    One of the horses we manipulated on Tuesday was Dude, who featured last week, with the big aim being to try to reduce his scoliosis. The pictures (above) show the before and after. After a couple of easy days, it’s imperative to then work the horse to stabilise the range you’ve instilled. Directed, controlled exercise is the key to the consolidating the gains made through manipulation.

    Who said horses can’t fly?

    We conduct weekly reviews of cases that come under Liz’s direction and the first one she had to look at on Tuesday was an 8yr old show jumper who came in following kissing spine surgery. He had an interspinous ligament desmotomy at Three Counties Equine Hospital, which is the new type of operation for this condition.

    Trotting over raised polesHe is about to start his canter work on the lunge in preparation for the re-introduction of a rider and considering we’re only 8 weeks post-surgery he’s doing really well. We’ve been using raised poles to build up his strength and balance, and he’s about as good an example of how to do this exercise as you can get (see right). Meaghan (our assistant manager) and I are currently fighting over who will be the first to sit on him as he’s just so awesome; I’ll keep you posted on who wins that one!

    A special visitor

    Last week also brought a visit from one of our favourite regulars. Valegro (Blueberry) has been coming to work on our Aquafit water treadmill for some time now and it’s a pleasure to see him every time.

    His groom Alan always brings him and has become a great friend to us. I think it’s fair to say that Alan is nearly as famous as Blueberry these days, and it’s fascinating to talk to him about how they manage the horses to make sure they are always at their best to perform.

    To have the chance to work with the best dressage horse in the world is some honour for us, and the fact that he’s so lovely to deal with just makes it even better. Blueberry really is quite amazing to watch in the Aquafit; we have to work him in higher water than any other horse I’ve seen just to tap into his range! He’s an absolute superstar – how lucky we are.

    The next couple of weeks promise to be super busy with new horses arriving and lots of other things going on so I will write again soon with an update.


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