It is important that horses are clean and dry to help with the 'hands-on' palpation assessment and ensure that any treatments can be applied safely and effectively. (They do not need to be as pristine as if going to a show, but they do need to have had any clumps of mud etc. brushed off!)
All horses will only be assessed and treated with their owner, or a designated handler present. It does help if the person who knows the horse the best can be there however because quite often through the session further questions might be raised about your horse's history or current management etc. that a different handler might perhaps struggle to answer. It is also helpful to be able to see and discuss the issues identified whilst the horse is in front of us all, and it ensures that any relevant exercises etc. can be demonstrated directly to the person who will be carrying them out.
During the appointment, access to a covered area will be needed in order to keep the horse dry, preferably with a flat level floor to allow for accurate assessment of muscle symmetry etc. There will also need to be somewhere suitable to be able to walk and trot the horse up in hand as a bare minimum, although it is helpful sometimes to see the horse lunged or ridden as well if possible and facilities allow. If you are not sure about any of these aspects however, please just talk to Hannah when making an appointment.
Is there anything else I need to consider before booking 'routine' appointments?
Where treatment forms part of a rehabilitation plan following injury or surgery, then your horse will of course already be resting or on a carefully controlled exercise plan. However, when booking more routine 'maintenance' appointments for healthy horses, activity levels are likely to have to be reduced for a short period of time afterwards to ensure that the effects of any treatment are maximised. Therefore some forward planning around your horse's exercise/competition schedule may be necessary. Specific aftercare advice will always be discussed with you on the day according to what has been found, but some very general guidelines are discussed below.
It is common for horses to require a day or two off work, with a gentle graduated return back to their previous exercise level over several more days. It is also quite common to want to restrict very strenuous activities such as jumping for a week afterwards, to avoid placing stress on the muscles and joints again too soon. This advice can vary quite widely however depending on the problems identified and treatments applied, so whilst one horse might be fine to be back in full work within a few days of a visit, another might need much longer. The aim is always to treat your horse effectively with the minimum possible disruption to their normal work program, but do consider your upcoming competition or lesson schedule when booking to allow us to try to plan things appropriately, particularly if this is the first time your horse will have been seen.
N.B It is of course possible to have treatment sessions close to competitions, including even at a competition itself. However, in such cases, Hannah will have been working with your horse regularly for a while so that she already knows them inside out. In that way, any particular issues will have already been addressed well in advance, so that we are then easily able to shift the focus of the work away from longer-term 'problem-solving' and instead onto performance and recovery at that one event for you.
My horse is also due to be trimmed/shod/vaccinated/have dental work - when should I ideally schedule physiotherapy around that?
In order for your horse to gain the maximum effectiveness from any treatment, it is recommended: 1. That you schedule any routine dental work to take place before the date of your horse's physiotherapy appointment. If the teeth are as correctly balanced as possible first, it is then easier to effectively address any associated compensatory issues afterwards where necessary. 2. That you leave at least 3 days after routine vaccinations before any physiotherapy work to ensure that any localised tenderness post-injection has subsided and that the horse has not begun to show any adverse reactions to the vaccination for any reason. (If your horse is being seen for the very first time, it is also recommended that you do not schedule routine vaccinations within the first week following their physiotherapy appointment either if it can be avoided). 3. That you do not book your farrier or trimmer to come within the first 3 days after a physiotherapy appointment. This ensures that your horse is not going to need to stand and balance for any length of time with their legs in slightly awkward positions immediately after treatment.
How often might you need to see my horse?
Unfortunately there really is no easy answer to this question because it will depend on so many different factors and requires a thorough initial assessment of your horse to be able to give you a more reliable indication. However, the aim would of course always be to carry out the minimum number of sessions necessary to effectively deal with the particular problem(s).
As a guide, new horses are usually seen at least twice - once for their initial assessment and treatment, and then again within a few weeks of the first visit depending on the problems identified, in order to reassess and ensure that the issues have resolved and/or provide any further treatment as required.
Where treatment is required to help with a specific injury, post-operatively, or in the management of an ongoing condition, it would generally be anticipated that a more intensive treatment plan may be needed. However again, the various options for care would always be discussed with you following an initial assessment, and in many such cases, you may be able to recover the costs of treatment from your insurance company if also making a claim for veterinary fees (see below).
Specifically tailored advice and exercises will be given to you where appropriate in order to help continue progress in-between appointments. Hannah will also liaise with other specialists e.g. trainers, equine dental technicians, farriers, saddle fitters etc. as needed to help in the resolution or future prevention of an issue and to ensure that everyone can be working together closely for the maximum benefit of your horse.
In addition, if your horse has not improved as much as would normally be expected within 1-2 treatments for a particular problem, this would always be discussed with you and your vet again because it could be that there is another issue that needs to be identified - your horse's welfare is the utmost priority at all times.
After the initial problem is resolved, many owners then wish to include routine check-ups for their horse rather than waiting until an issue becomes more evident. Again, the recommended timescale between routine appointments will vary depending on the horse's workload, conformation, individual circumstances and existing problems, as well as your own aims for treatment e.g. whether it is for performance development or general maintenance. As a general guide however, the majority of clients with horses in regular work tend to have 3-4 checks each year for general maintenance to help to keep their horses at their optimum.
Can I Claim the cost of treatment through my insurance company?
Providing that your insurance policy wording covers you for physiotherapy treatment in addition to vets fees, then if your vet has specifically recommended treatment of your animal with physiotherapy as part of a claim for a particular condition or injury, you should be able to recover the cost of treatment up to the value that you are insured for. Hannah's qualifications and professional registrations are widely recognised and accepted by insurance companies.
Please note however, that fees are payable at the time of each treatment. Receipts will be provided to submit to your insurers as part of any claim, but you will need to recover these costs from them.
Can I get an appointment with you by taking my horse to a clinic?
Hannah purposefully does not hold designated clinic days at particular locations because in her opinion, this is generally only convenient for the practitioner and not always optimal for the horse. The motion and muscular effort required to stabilise themselves during transportation is not usually particularly beneficial immediately post-treatment if it can be avoided, and of course most horses tend to be more relaxed in familiar surroundings. Therefore, Hannah prefers to always travel to you when at all possible.
I think my saddle might also need checking - Should I book you or the saddle fitter to come out first?
If your horse is due a routine saddle fit check as well, then it is usually better to have a physiotherapy session for your horse before your saddle fitting appointment. Treatment can potentially alter the horse's movement subtly, which could mean that any 'fine-tuning' of the saddle balance made by your fitter might perhaps no longer be quite ideal for the horse's way of going were they to have seen the horse first. However, if there is any chance that the saddle might not be fitting your horse correctly anymore, then there is absolutely no point of course in paying for a treatment but then riding for a time afterwards again before your saddle can be checked - that would simply start to undo the effects of any treatment if the saddle had been causing some problems! What usually works best with horses that are seen regularly is to book a saddle fitting appointment for a few days to a week following your horse's physiotherapy session. That way the horse could have 1-2 days rest after treatment and then maybe a few ground work sessions before you ride again for the first time actually at your saddle fitting appointment.
However, it is of course important to consider how much of a problem there might be when deciding how much of a gap to leave between physiotherapy and saddle fitting. If things are not simply 'routine' and instead you suspect that there might be more moderate discomfort or signs of muscle wastage along the back etc., then your horse might well require more than just one physiotherapy session (and possibly a period of rehabilitation work from the ground as well first to help to develop improved muscle strength) before thoughts could begin to shift towards saddle fitting and restarting ridden work again. It is also important to remember that any horse undergoing a programme of rehabilitation may in fact require several saddle fitting checks throughout that period as their muscles develop and the horse changes shape.