My work with animals encompasses techniques that I have learned from training as an Osteopath, but also courses undertaken in other manual therapies, i.e, McTimoney-Corley Spinal Therapy, Massage Therapy, Equine Touch and Canine Hydrotherapy - course info/links.

Many animals suffer from back and musculoskeletal problems, like people do. For instance, although we ride horses and they are capable of supporting our bodyweight, they weren't designed to be ridden. As a result of domestication they have many unnatural external influences to deal with. Examples that can lead to problems are - an unbalanced rider, ill-fitting saddlery, injury through trauma, stress and over-exertion in competition, digestive upset, joint problems, bad shoeing and dentistry. The wearing of head collars can often cause neck injuries, especially if the head collar doesn't break (nylon) in a panic situation.

Dogs more commonly affected by musculoskeletal problems are performance dogs taking part in agility tests, and/or racing or country sports. Neck problems often occur as a result of collars becoming caught or through intense pulling on the lead. If your dog is over-weight and unfit, he is also more likely to suffer from back problems, as his lack of muscle tone and skeletal frame will have the extra burden of weight to carry. Older dogs commonly suffer from arthritis leading to gait abnormalities and eventually a bad back.

Common characteristics of musculoskeletal problems in animals are provided below:

Horses:

  • Jumping fast and flat over fences, or uncharacteristically starting to refuse.
  • Unwillingness to work on the bit, or on a circle and/or hollowing the back.
  • Reluctance or inability to strike off on the correct leading leg in canter.
  • Reduced impulsion from behind, sometimes dragging the toes.
  • Uncharacteristic change in behaviour e.g., bucking, rearing, kicking or biting.
  • Showing reluctance or sensitivity to being saddled/groomed and not standing still whilst being mounted.
  • Displaying signs of depression and a general overall reduction in performance.
  • One sided stiffness/tail carried to one side.
  • Uneven stride or rhythm.

Osteopathy for Horse and Rider Leaflet

Dogs:

  • Inability to distribute weight evenly on all four limbs.
  • Not moving straight.
  • Carrying head low/neck stiffness.
  • Difficulty with jumping, climbing stairs, running, getting up or lying down.
  • Assymetrical wagging tail.
  • Displaying signs of pain, reluctance to play or unhappiness.
  • Lacking performance (ability training, greyhound racing).

    NB: It is important that you seek your vet's permission prior to osteopathic treatment. Please make use of the referral form below:-

    VET REFERRAL FORM

Though most owners tend to contact me when their animal has a problem, I would like to stress that Osteopathy is a very good preventative treatment if carried out on a regular basis. Therefore, I recommend that your horse's back is checked at least twice yearly to prevent build up of any muscle tension/soreness. Horses and dogs involved in competition may require more regular sessions.

  • Questions will be asked concerning your animal's state of health, any previous medical treatment, any concerns you have and what type of exercise and diet they receive.
  • Your horse/dog will be examined in a similar way to people, through observation, movement and touch to identify any areas of restriction, weakness, tightness or sensitivity.
  • Horses may occasionally be assessed whilst ridden and it is also useful if the saddle is available to check for any possible problems.
  • After an assessment is made, any problem areas will be discussed prior to treatment.
  • Post treatment advice is usually given in the form of useful loosening or strengthening exercises. It is recommended that your animal be rested for a couple of days, and then gradually brought back into work. Horses can still be turned out, and dogs walked in a controlled environment.
Tel: 07801 497595 (Direct) / 01604 757771 (Clinic)