Becoming a para rider: Super Flynn meets the physio

After all the fun at the dressage competition, it's time to get serious about Flynn's training. Here, Sallyanne explains what happened when he had his first meeting with Julia Mottram, a veterinary physiotherapist. 

Recently, Flynn and I had a visit from Julia Mottram, a chartered veterinary physiotherapist. Julia represents the veterinary division within Keystone Physiotherapy, enabling them to provide all-round physiotherapy care.

Flynn loving all the attention from Julia's visit 

Flynn loving all the attention from Julia's visit 

Having a visit like this helps Julia understand our needs and develop a bespoke exercise plan. As she’s qualified for both human and equine physiotherapy, she can give me and Flynn an all-round assessment that’ll bring out the best in us both!

I’ve known Julia for about three years and was lucky enough to meet her before my injury when she was treating my horse, Oubles, every six to eight weeks.

Equine physiotherapy is the use of physical techniques for the treatment on soft tissues and movement by manual therapy.

It’s a complimentary therapy, not an alternative to veterinary care, but can be particular helpful in preventing injury by reducing muscle tightness and increasing flexibility and strength.

Apparently, dressage horses can present with the biggest problems, due to the repetitive compressed movements that result in what are effectively repetitive strain injuries. 

Flynn is only seven and has only once before had an equine therapy, so hopefully it'll be something he’ll enjoy.

He isn’t a pure dressage horse, as he has competed with Beth Hobbs (his owner) at BD Eventing, side-saddle and dressage, but having regular treatment will help him keep injury free.

The visit

Before treating any horse, Julia must get consent to treat from the registered vet, but once this is okay, it’s all systems go!

Julia treated Flynn in the stable. He wasn’t sure at first and was a bit fidgety, but as the session went on he seemed to relax.

Julia treating Super Flynn 

Julia treating Super Flynn 

Julia talked a lot about what she was doing and why (I wish I could remember everything she said) and she’s given us some homework in the form of stretches that I can do with carrots.

To do this, I sit by where the girth would, facing the same direction as Flynn. By using the carrots as bait, it encourages Flynn to stretch and help with flexion of his neck.

He should bend evenly through the head and neck to both sides, but I’m sure Flynn will be good at this as he loves carrots!  

Flynn had the next day off and is now being regularly exercised again by Beth and the team at Loan Oak.

We’re now waiting patiently for a date for the next session with Julia, as this one will be a mounted session.

Here, she’ll assess me, my core balance and how Flynn and I work together.

I’m excited to see how our partnership will develop and I’m glad we have Julia helping us towards our dream of riding para dressage.