‘We’ve got to listen to horses’: ‘MoT’ for horses proves beneficial

  • A panel of industry experts is putting the emphasis on teamwork by hosting “MoT” days for horses and riders.

    Steph Bradley, a Society of Master Saddlers master saddle-fitter and British Horse Society accredited coach, started hosting performance clinics at her yard, Whitegate Farm and Livery in Cheshire, around two years ago. Riders bring their horses and for £390 they will see Steph, orthopaedic vet Mark Andrews, veterinary chiropractor Angela Holland, farriers Russell Novelli and Sam Crompton, Baileys nutritionist Caroline Dickens and human physio Donna Strachan.

    The fee includes vet assessment, chiro and physio treatment, farrier report, saddle-fitting, and rider symmetry assessment. If the horse needs any shoeing or veterinary treatment this is charged separately.

    Steph told H&H the aim was to bring experts together in one place to help horses and riders.

    “Sometimes a horse might have a niggle and the owner struggles to get to the bottom of it. They can end up going round the houses as they go through that checklist. So we thought if we could have a day where we all get together it would be really beneficial,” she said.

    “Riders are given an appointment, but we tell people generally to block the day out to allow for extra treatment or assessment. For example if the farriers decide to try the horse with a pad and want to reassess it, or the saddle needs to be flocked and we want to watch the horse and rider again afterwards.”

    Steph said they have had requests to take the clinic on the road, which they are unable to do as it is difficult to get days in the diary, but she would like to see more experts run similar days.

    “When everyone can work together it really does get the best results for the horse and rider. It’s not rocket science, but it works well and we also learn from each other,” she said.

    “I think there should be more clinics like these because horses, and their owners, will benefit so much from them. We’ve got to listen to horses, and it can be difficult when there’s just one snapshot and they’re seen under these different guises, whereas if we see them together it really helps.”

    Steph added that although the clinics are labelled as performance, they are open to all horses and riders, and are like an “MoT”.

    “We’re trying to enhance performance, but this applies to happy hackers too. People might think this is for performance horses, but it’s for everyone. It might be that a horse has a bit of discomfort, the rider is a little crooked, and the saddle is leaning to one side – and this can all be ironed out between us,” she said.

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