Equine Performance Therapy
Support. Maintain. Perform
Assisting in the optimum performance of your horse is central to our philosophy at Equine Performance Therapy
Equine Performance Therapy was established by Louise Weir with the aim of combining her passion for the musculoskeletal wellbeing of our equine athletes with a business that helps every equine client perform to his or her optimum ability. Every ridden horse is an athlete from the so called “happy hacker” needing to cover 10 miles every weekend over varying terrain to the Grand Prix dressage horse pushing themselves to the very limit of their biomechanical capabilities and everything in between.
You will find out more about the treatments we provide in the “Treatments and Benefits” section but, put simply, following a static and dynamic assessment, we manipulate the soft tissues of your horse’s body to identify and treat any spasms, soreness or tension that we can find. A series of passive stretches and “homework” exercises to help build up strength and/or address any compensatory issues complete the treatment.
Each and every one of our equine athletes gives us their all every time we ride them and our aim is to work as part of your team to provide the support required to their musculature to maintain them in peak condition, or to help them through recovery following an injury or time off, so that you, as their owners, can go on enjoying them for many years to come.
We can also treat the box resting horse too, as a treatment can assist in “keeping everything moving” when everything else is static.
Louise holds a Level 4 Diploma in Equine Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation from the Institute of Complementary Animal Therapies, which she passed with distinction. The course was one of the most comprehensive of its kind at the time, involving, amongst other things, 115 written assignments, and 55 case studies culminating in over 360 treatments before qualification over a 16 month period.
Fully insured and always carry my insurance certificate with me if a client wishes to inspect it.
Going the extra mile
There are so many different qualifications out there that we appreciate it must be difficult for horse owners to differentiate between them all. Louise’s primary qualification is her Level 4 Diploma.
Whilst we believe that every horse that we treat has the capacity to teach us something new, we also strongly believe that every therapist should work from a fundamental theoretical understanding of the physiology and biomechanics of the horse. To that end, we keep up to date with the latest research and continually invest in additional courses. Louise is a member of 2 representative bodies and they both insist on CPD – Louise has already exceeded their minimum requirements because she loves to learn! Louise is always more than happy to discuss her qualifications with clients – there is ALWAYS more to learn!
Understanding our clients needs.
The demands on both time and finances to horse owners trying to juggle everything is well understood at Equine Performance Therapy. Our business will remain as flexible as possible when it comes to appointment requests, and we promise our partnership with you will be based on active communication, as we believe that is key to any support network.
What to expect…
Please note 24 hours’ notice of any cancellation is required to allow us to operate as efficiently as possible for every one of our clients – they are ALL important. Cancellation with less than 24 hrs notice, will incur a charge.
Prior to any treatment, your vet must give consent for us to treat your horse. This is a legal requirement,
and therefore is something that vets are very familiar with. We will provide you with a form or contact your vets directly if you would prefer.
NB Veterinary consent must be obtained before any of the following treatments can take place.
This can take approximately 1.5-2 hrs and will involve a full history being taken, a static and dynamic evaluation, treatment and appropriate passive stretches. It may be that some aspects of the treatment eg passive stretches are slightly shorter than in any subsequent treatments as our aim in the first treatment is to ensure the horse is wholly comfortable with the techniques so he or she gets the most benefit out of them.
These will usually last around one hour. We will discuss at the first consultation the optimum frequency of any follow up treatments. For example, if a horse is particularly tight it may be that he benefits from a few treatments a week apart, or if he is going to start upping his workload then it could be fortnightly, or maintenance could be every 4-6 weeks or even longer. It really is bespoke to each horse and their particular workload, conformation and propensity to carry tension!
It is important that your horse is ready at the appointed time as we treat a number of horses a day. Of course, hold-ups happen (to us as well), but we ask that you let us know as soon as you become aware of any delays so that we can advise subsequent clients accordingly. It is also important that your horse is clean and dry at a treatment. It is not possible to massage wet or dirty skin as our hands simply slip over the skin and cannot achieve the same result as we can with clean and dry skin.
Types of treatments and benefits:
Although all the treatments described below will manipulate the soft tissues of the body and each one will be bespoke depending on the needs of each horse, there are also specific types of treatments that can be given, as set out below. Please feel free to call, email or message for a friendly chat to discuss what type of treatment from Equine Performance Therapy might be suitable for your horse.
The aim of this massage is to prepare the neuro muscular system for what lies ahead. By reducing any muscle spams or tension the muscles’ elasticity and flexibility should improve which should in turn allow the horse to perform to a higher level and for longer. It also allows for the warming up of muscles without exhausting the muscle or the horse – we all know that horse who seems to channel pure adrenaline once he enters the warm-up arena: this type of treatment should allow his muscles to warm up BEFORE he enters that state.
Points to note are as follows:
- This treatment can only be given to existing clients so that we are familiar with the horse and can identify quickly if he/she has any “usual” points of tension or areas where he tends to “hold himself” when he gets excited.
- It only lasts about 15-20 minutes.
- Can be given from 4 hours to 10 minutes before the horse is due to perform.
- Usually not a full body treatment – we will target known areas of tension.
- The treatment will increase blood flow and nutrients to the muscles, will warm up the muscles and will target the main muscles groups required for the specific discipline.
- It will improve lymphatic circulation thereby assisting the elimination of toxins from the body.
- Passive stretches can assist joint mobility/range of movement.
- Aids proprioception and prepares the neural pathways for what lies ahead.
- Improves muscle elasticity and flexibility with the aim of reducing the likelihood of injury.
The goal of this massage is to assist in the recovery of the body after performance or other types of strenuous exercise and reduce the normal recovery time. Post event massage can help speed up the replenishment of glycogen reserves, which ordinarily can take up to 36 hrs, and the removal of toxins created by working hard. We will target the muscles used but also check for any early signs of injuries that might have occurred. If a horse has suffered a fall, it may be useful to see us the same day (once cleared by the vet) to ensure the affceted muscles do not go into a protective spasm.
Points to note are as follows:
- The treatment is performed 2-4 hours after competition/exercise once the horse has cooled down.
- The aim of the treatment is to monitor and identify stress build up areas.
- First aid inspection – the treatment can act as an early detection of areas of heat and swelling.
- If performed alongside a pre-event massage, it can compare range of movement in passive stretches from pre-event.
- Assists the lymphatic system in the removal of waste products e.g. lactic acid.
- Assists venous flow to aid the removal of carbon dioxide and waste products.
- Can reduce spasm/tension found in any muscles before they become chronic.
- Assists replenishment of depleted glycogen reserves – the reserves can take up to 72 hours to be replenished by the body in the normal course of recovery.
- The treatment can also calm a horse down and allow the horse to leave his “flight or fight” state and return to his “resting and relaxed” state.
- In a particular situation, for example where a horse has had a fall on an xc course, the post event massage can assist if a horse is treated (once cleared by the vet) before the muscles go into spasm and seize up. Such a treatment can target the muscle groups affected by the fall as well as a whole-body treatment to ensure other groups have not already started compensating.
Maintenance Massage (including Box Rest)
This is a generic term for ongoing treatment of all different types of horses and ponies. The treatment can be tailored to concentrate on the muscle groups used more frequently by a particular horse. Equine Performance Therapy believes that prevention is far better (and often cheaper!) than cure so it is worth getting your horse maintained regularly in order to detect (and hopefully resolve) any issues that may be developing. Don’t forget that just like sports massage for people is no longer confined to elite athletes, so sports massage can benefit ALL ponies and horses. Box rested horses can benefit from a massage too. Not only can it assist with lymphatic drainage which usually relies on movement but it can also benefit other areas of body which do not appreciate being static!
Benefits of a maintenance massage include:
- Maintaining muscle tone and elasticity
- Maintaining or improving range of movement for joints
- Promoting a healthy skin and coat
- Enhancing endorphins giving a general sense of well-being
- Improving circulation and lymphatic drainage
- Early detection of poor saddle fit issues
- Early detection of dental problems
- Improved proprioception
- Can assist elderly or arthritic horses to reduce muscle tension
- First aid check for horses
Rehabilitation Massage can be used during a horse’s recovery from a specific illness, trauma or injury to aid the recovery of that area or the areas that may be compensating for that injury. The treatments can help reduce symptoms of box rest e.g. stiffness and lack of muscle tone and also contribute to the overall well-being of the horse by increasing endorphin production and breaking up the boredom.
Benefits of a rehabilitation massage include:
- Identifying stress areas
- Reducing stiffness from prolonged box rest
- Aiding joint mobility and proprioception
- Increasing range of movement and promoting the production of synovial fluid
- Improving suppleness and reducing muscle stiffness
- Lowering stress levels and anxiety levels
- Providing stimulation and production of endorphins
- Promoting both lymphatic and venous circulation
- Supporting the immune system through increased circulation.
“Louise is a fabulous therapist, our baby horse Reg loves his sessions. Reg has gone from being baffled and slightly suspicious at the first treatment to now absolutely loving them. He leans into Louise and is so very relaxed. Louise is amazingly kind, gentle and really gets to know your horse. Louise is an absolute professional and I can’t recommend her highly enough.”
Mrs W, Fleet
“Louise is so knowledgeable and kind with the horses. Her treatment has made a huge difference to my horse and I would highly recommend her.”
“Louise started to treat my 2 dressage horses in 2018. Since then I have seen a huge improvement in the suppleness of my 8 year old working at Advanced Medium. His lateral work is now much more established and he is working much better over his back. My 20 year old dressage horse is now reaching the twilight of his career and deserves the very best treatment available, that’s why I chose Louise! He keeps on improving, despite his age and we are currently working towards riding through a Grand Prix test at home, the aim is to get some one time changes before his 21st birthday in May!
I cannot recommend Louise highly enough, she is quiet, patient and thorough, my horses both love her and their relaxation is obvious as soon as she lays her ‘magic hands’ on them!”
Payment to be made by BACS or cash at the time of treatment, please.
Within 15 miles of Louise’s base at RG29, the below treatment prices apply:
Travel over 15 miles will incur an additional charge of 45p a mile.
(this typically takes longer as a full history is taken)
- 1 horse at a yard = £45
- 2 horses at the same yard, same time = £40 per horse
- 3 or more horses at the same yard, same time = £35 per horse
Follow up treatments
- 1 horse = £40
- 2 horses at the same yard at the same time = £35 per horse
- 3 or more horses at the same yard at the same time = £30 per horse
Please contact Equine Performance Therapy by filling out our enquiry form or by using any of the following methods: