I can thank my Charlie for discovering my passion and skill for this most wonderful and fulfilling career as a Vet Physio.
My journey began long before I realised, when Charlie taught me the wonders of British Eventing – I want to thank Ellen Goodwin Eventing and Jethro Thompson for finding Charlie and getting us started!
Charlie is the most kind hearted and honest boy I have ever had, and before I knew it I went from a happy hacker to falling in love with Eventing. I remember just being in awe of the pure skill and athleticism of these horses, and from then on I was well and truly mesmerised and just wanted to learn more and more about how to train and optimise a horses performance – being from a design engineering background this wasn’t simple as I wanted to know every why and how!
Whilst I was very aware that Charlie was beginning to reach the slightly older age for eventing, being 17, he was still so well, forwards and bold that we continued to have so much fun competing together. However, unfortunately Charlie’s performance had a sudden decline and before I knew it we had tail swishing, difficulty in picking up left canter lead, resistance within Dressage, a loss in confidence and a few stops out jumping – he even threw in a few bucks in, which was unheard of for the Golden Charlie Boy! But the most worrying was the rapid loss of muscle – it was absolutely heartbreaking! However, amazingly this coincided with me starting my BSc Hons in Veterinary Physiotherapy, to become the Vet Physio I am today.
Whilst nobody ever wishes their horse to be in pain, some could say that I had the wonderful opportunity to put everything I was learning into practice. After a period of rest from exercise, help from the amazing Avonvale Equine Practice Ratley with diagnosing the beginnings of his mild hock osteoarthritis and providing Charlie with the necessary pain relief, the countless words of wisdom and mentoring from Halina Tombs (NAVP), and the hours of reading, practicing, patience and determination, one year later I finally produced a once again happy Charlie
Treatment involved the necessary joint pain relief from the vets, combined with manual therapies (massage, myofascial release, and stretches) to soft tissues in compensatory areas, TENs an electrotherapy to provide pain relief to compensating, over worked and painful muscles (this encourages recruitment of the correct muscular groups, as opposed to guarding and holding with the wrong muscles), and a careful, empathetic and progressive exercise programme to increase soft tissue extensibility and strength, as well as joint range of motion.
Now at 19 years old, whilst Charlie has retired from Eventing (the choice was made in the best interest of preserving his joint health as osteoarthritis is unfortunately a progress degenerative disease, so management is key!), Charlie is looking so healthy, and now happily pops a small course of jumps, and has even found a lovely loan home, with whom he recently came home with a 2nd place rosette from their first ever dressage test together (1st if she had remembered her number!!).
I can honestly say I love my career, and I can not wait to help make more success stories happen and help to make many more happy animals!