Canine Services for Performance Dogs

dog physiotherapy massage physiotherapist osteopathy chiropractic chiropractor McTimoneyWhether working, sporting or showing, our performance dogs put their bodies through a lot.  Regular maintenace treatments can help your dog physically and emotionally perform at their best, whilst my rehabilitation services can help if your dog has an injury or accident.

With more research being conducted into sports such as agility, sporting associations are beginning to adapt obstacles or remove them competiton altogether to improve safety and prevent injuries.  However, injuries do happen and having an experienced rehabilitation therapist on your team can help make return to performance easier, quicker and you will gain insight and knowledge into how to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Although many good coaches are training people and dogs in dog sports, they are often not trained in injury prevention, sports performance or sports medicine.  It is well worth having a second opinon on fitness and training techniques to make sure they are in the best interests of your dogs long term physical health and well being.  I am more than happy to discuss this at treatment appointments or over the hone with clients.

If you are looking for a comprehensive sports injury and rehabilitation specialist, give me a call on 07931 523606, i look forward to working with you.

Come fly with me!

The flies are awful at the moment, so I wanted to share my fly spray recipe. I’ve been trialling it on my own horses and it seems to work rather well.

1 mug of strong tea

Half a cup of vinegar (cider/ normal or spirit)

1 clove of garlic

1ml of cedar wood essential oil

1ml of lemon eucalyptus essential oil

Mix the essential oils in 5mls of sunflower oil

Add the ingredients to a 4 pint bottle such as a clean milk jug.

Dilute with water to fill the milk jug.

Shake well and use the diluted mixture to fill an empty spray bottle. Apply twice a day.

The cedar wood is known as a base essential oil. It evaporates much more slowly than citrus essential oils that fly sprays are usually made from. This means it last much longer between applications, and the flies hate it.

You will have to shake the mixture well before applying or you can add a drop of baby shampoo or horse shampoo to help disperse the oils in the mixture, although I haven’t tried this so I’m not sure if it reduces its effectiveness.

Why the long wait?

The first time you try Bowen, two things are apparent.

Firstly, it feels a little more “hands off” than most therapies. The practitioner will make a move consisting of several gentle rolling motions. The practitioner isn’t constantly touching the client throughout the treatment.

The second is that the therapist will walk away and leave the patient, usually for 2 minutes, but sometimes up to 5, 10 or even 20 minutes at a time, depending on the procedure being given.

The waiting allows the body to assimilate the instructions the therapist is giving it. If the patient has a particularly tense or problematic area, the instructions can take a while to move through the tissues, releasing them. This gives the patient the opportunity to feel the tissue releasing and gives the body time to make adjustments before more instructions are given.

Bowen is an extremely gentle, but effective treatment that removes tension from muscles, realigning the spine, aiding mobility, reducing pain and removing stress from the body.

Working with your vet

“Amazing lady, has helped my mare so much to strengthen her back I am now able to ride her again!” Katie and Lolly

McTimoney practitioners are skilled therapists who have undertaken a three year undergraduate degree, and a three year postgraduate degree. A large part of the training involves identifying common diseases and conditions, in order for the treatment given to be safe for the patient.  Any signs of clinical disease are identified and referred back to the vet for proper assessment and treatment.

This ensures the animal is getting the right treatment from the correct professional.  I also refer to hydrotherapists, dentists, farriers, saddle fitters and other allied professionals where necessary.

Often times I am called to an animal that the owner believes is just a little stiff or out of sorts, but on further investigation is actually lame or ill. It is at this point that I will discuss with the owner the need to refer back to the vet for treatment for a specific condition.

It is illegal for paraprofessionals to diagnose and treat conditions that require veterinary attention, this is the job of the vet.

Once the condition has been successfully diagnosed by the vet, we can then work together to resolve the issue.  Your vet is an expert in medical and surgical intervention.  My expertise is to rehabilitate tissues back to full working condition once the underlying condition has been treated or indentified. Sometimes this will mean gentle treatments and rehabilitation advice alongside veterinary intervention.  Sometimes this means waiting until the initial issue has resolved before I can help with the rehabilitation, it all depends on the condition.

It certainly doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t help, just that the vet needs to intervene first.

Why use me if I refer to the vet.
Like ALL complimentary therapies, McTimoney isn’t a miracle cure for lameness. If your therapist says they can cure joint related lameness, then they are poorly trained and you will most likely spend lots of money with a poor outcome. It is in the animals best interest that at least pain relief is given, which needs to be administered by a vet.

So why use me at all?
Research has shown that using pain relief alone for musculoskeletal conditions is not as effective as using manual therapy. You should also be aware that because animals walk on four legs it is easy for them to shift weight to another leg if they feel pain, tension or discomfort somewhere.  However, once the pain is resolved, they do not return to using their bodies with their weight spread evenly over their legs.  They continue to move in the new compensating way. In the long term this can lead to tight, overused, painful muscles in some areas of the body and weak, underused muscles elsewhere. This imbalance can actually lead to joint breakdown in the long run and progressive lameness. The only way to redress this imbalance is to treat the musculoskeletal system and use rehabilitative exercises to bring balance back to the body.

Treating with McTimoney before diagnosis.
In some rare instances it may be necessary to use McTimoney to remove compensatory patterns in order to identify more clearly where a lameness is coming from. This is only ever undertaken with the treating vets express permission along with the owner.

Removing the compensatory patterns can help pin point the extent and primary location of a lameness to aid diagnosis, especially with an unusual presentation of lameness.

Reasons for Treatment

It is always difficult to know when our animals are in need of attention.  The lists below show signs that your horse, dog or cat could be exhibiting musculoskeletal issues that would benefit from treatment.

McTimoney for horses.
Tension when ridden.
Napping/ bucking/ rearing.
Grumpy when groomed or tacked up.
Refusal to stand when mounted.
Not wanting to be caught.
Stable aggressive.
Previous lameness, now resolved, but still moving stiffly.
Repetitive activities can cause muscle soreness, eg jumping/ drilling competition dressage moves.
Poor or reduced performance.

“Took my pony jumping today and he felt amazing! Thanks so much. He was able to use his front end as well as his back end and felt so soft and happy 😊.” Julie and Jester

wpid-wp-1447357899669.jpegMcTimoney for small animals.
Previous lameness, now resolved, but still doesn’t seem to be moving quite right.
Repetitive training such as agility, obedience, flyball can cause tight, uneven muscles.
Difficulty jumping into or out of the car.
Difficulty climbing or descending the stairs.
Slower on walks.
Less enthusiastic when playing or getting tired quicker.
Poor performance, e.g. slower times, difficulty turning, usually more noticeable in one direction
Suddenly stopping and looking at a leg or area on their body.
Excessive licking or gnawing at one area of the body where skin disease has been ruled out.

Nipping, yelping, growling, short temperedness (hissing or scratching in cats) or changes in demeanour or personality can often be linked to physical pain.

About McTimoney and the Treatment

McTimoney is a truly holistic approach to caring for your animals’ physical wellbeing. My approach is to tailor each treatment to suit the individual. I try to find out what might be causing the problem in the first place, rather than treat the symptoms. During the consultation I gather information about the animal and the owner, any previous injury, any problems it is coping or not coping with currently.

After watching how your animal moves I commence treatment.  First realigning the skeleton using the McTimoney technique, and then massaging any tightness or tension away throughout the body.
After the treatment I will give advice and recommendations on how the owner can extend the benefits of the treatment.  This could be hrough massage or stretching techniques, which I will demonstrate, or changing aspects of the animals life or exercise that may prevent the same problem from reoccurring.

image3When working with an animal I never force it to accept the treatment, and strive to maintain the animals confidence at all times. In order to use a McTimoney Practitioner, you do not need to be referred by a vet, although you do need permission from your vet before the treatment commences. I will remind you of this when booking your appointment, and ask you to sign a form saying that permission was granted. More about why your vet needs to be involved can be found here.

“So so happy with the treatment my horse has received from Anna. Anna is gentle and kind, and explains what she is doing and how it helps. Anna is always happy to answer any questions and check any lumps or bumps! Anna also leaves you with a plan of action before her next visit. I’ve seen a vast improvement in the movement of my youngster since using Anna.” Zoe

The technique uses speed rather than force to make “adjustments” to the skeleton.  In actual fact what happens is that the nerves are stimulated to release and relax the muscles surrounding each joint that is worked on.  This improves range of motion in that joint and increases comfort.  Each joint that needs to be worked on is treated, it is the ultimate short levered technique.  I then use massage and other soft tissue techniques to release all trigger points and muscle spasm, giving a deep and thorough treatment that tends to last for a few weeks afterwards, depending on the issues the animal has and the state of tension before treatment. To read more about using a McTimoney Practitioner click the link.

Physical therapy for horse AND rider, why this should be your priority.

Recently, I attended the Equinenergy saddle fitting for equine therapists course, my externship was to assess the fit of a saddle to a horse and rider combination and make improvements to compliment both horse and rider.

Well, what a revelation! After assessing the fit using various techniques I used a low tech way to assess the fit while the horse was being ridden. After 15 minutes of riding the results were revealed, both myself and the horse owner in question were shocked!

The darker the colour, the higher the pressure that was placed into the horses back, not only was this rider sitting with more weight to the left (we’re looking at the underside of the saddle cloth) but the rider was pushing the saddle cross the horses spine. The higher pressure under the front of the saddle on the left side of the picture is being caused by the rider rocking the saddle across the diagonal as the horse moves. Most of the pressure is at the back of the saddle, this is being caused by the saddle tipping the rider backwards towards the cantle. Making the saddle wider at the front should alleviate this.

I went back to refit the saddle a week later to allow the rider time to get themselves treated. What makes this case study even more special for me is that I have been training as a human therapist over the last year! I treated the rider and couldn’t wait to see what the results were.

A week later, the pressure mapping looked like this.

The riders weight is being distributed much more evenly, however the saddle is still tipping them back. So after adjusting the width of the saddle and adjusting the shims that were being used with this saddle, the pressure map looks like this.

Much more even. The rider clearly still requires some work and I advised them to have regular treatments to overcome the long standing injury and compensation patterns within their body that would be transferred to the horse. It would be wise for this rider to have some riding lessons to help them to sit more evenly and in balance with the horse.

What would your pressure map look like? Do you think you may be in need of a treatment for yourself to help your horse carry you with ease?

Coming soon! Human treatment and saddle fitting.

If you need your horse treating in the meantime, don’t hesitate to call me 07931 523606 or message me on Facebook

February Goals

We’re into February now, so how are your new year goals going?

I’m really pleased with my progress, I am starting to feel much stronger after doing chi gong about 3-4 times a week, I upped it from 15 to 20 minutes last week. This week I’m starting new, more intensive postures in some of my sessions so I’ve dropped those back to 15 minutes.

I’ve noticed how much easier I can chuck the muck to the top of the muck heap (!) and wade through muddy fields with increasing ease. I have more energy and I’m not craving salty or fatty foods as much.

I hope you’re managing to make any positive changes that you wanted, remember to be kind to yourself. If you miss the gym one night (or one week) or eat an entire extra large pizza it really isn’t the end of the world, just continue with your program and you’ll get there.

Let me know how you’re getting on in the comments.

Gentle Movement for Pain Relief

So yesterday I told you about my fitness goals for the year and that I have the complication of a chronic pain issue. Well, my secret to getting moving gently without flaring up  my back at first is tai chi or it’s closely related counterpart qui gong. 

I have started with doing just ten minutes a day to help gently mobilise my joints and strengthen my quads and glutes. Tai chi is suitable for anyone who has any kind of pain or restriction and can be done by anyone of any age. I use dvds or YouTube to find routines to follow. Really simple! Try it and see how you feel.

First time I tried this I couldn’t walk down the stairs in the morning, I had to slide down on my bottom. After a week of a short daily practice I was able to carefully walk down, after two weeks I wasn’t waking up in pain anymore and my endurance had greatly improved. I started with just ten minutes each day, by the second week I could manage a whole hour. Pretty impressive. 

New Year Goals

I don’t know about you, but I am terrible at sticking to my New Years Resolutions, so this year I have decided to rebrand them as my goals for the year.

My foremost goal for this year is to get properly fit.  I have suffered a few setbacks in my fitness goals over the past few years.  What many people, even my clients don’t realise is that I suffer from chronic back pain.  Getting fit and strong has helped me to overcome this and helps me manage it day to day.  But if I have a health set back, like I did at the end of last year, then my pain comes back too.  This makes it difficult for me to do everyday things like hoover, and I usually wake up in pain, and have difficulty getting down the stairs first thing, it makes me feel tired and less likely to exercise, even though daily gentle exercise will help decrease my pain!  This is why I can’t just get a pair of trainers and go for a run, high impact exercise is detrimental to my fitness progression as I tend to get injured and have to start over.


Another reason for my fitness goal this year is to be able to ride my young horse.  He is 5 this year and I really need to get on top of his education, but most importantly, I don’t want to affect his health by being overweight and unfit.

I am currently around 20% of my horses’ weight, it might be a bit lower, but not much.  Research that is due to be published this year has shown that riders of this weight ratio will have a grave impact on the physical wellbeing of their horse.  Increasing their metabolic rate and energy expenditure even at the walk.  They start to find moving difficult and may stagger and trip with a rider of this weight ratio.  There is extra strain on tendons, the pasterns of the horse will start to lower and touch the ground at trot or canter, where this would only happen at gallop or landing from a big jump with a rider of 10% of their weight ratio.  This will obviously have a detrimental effect on their back health in the long term as well and may contribute to lordosis and kissing spines.

An unfit rider will also put the horse at risk of injury, the rider is less likely to be able to balance themselves independently and research is showing how this can cause rider induced lameness in the horse.

I want to do this to improve my health, increase my energy levels and get more done in a day.  I have other business and personal goals to aim for this year, and I want to give myself the best chance of doing so.  So why am I prattling on about this to you?  Well, I need to be accountable to someone to keep me on track, so I thought, what better way to stay accountable than to you.  It is also a way to show how chronic back pain can be managed for the better and hopefully give others some tips on how to build their fitness without setting themselves back.  I will be showing how I prepare my young horse for ridden work as well, so you may get some tips on this for your own horses.

So wish me luck, I will be routing for you too, share your new year goals with me, and we can do this together.