Foals and poles

Among my interesting cases this month is a rather adorable foal.  At 8 months old this youngster has already had a run in with the emergency services when found upside down in the early hours with a hoof jammed in a stable partition.  Any normal horse would have had a serious spook at the arrival of a huge space ship with blue flashing lights landing on the yard, complete with aliens in big plastic yellow hats.  This little mite just lay quietly awaiting rescue.  With grazes to the face and left hind limb, this foal was also quickly attended to by the vet.

I was asked to help with the rehab some 3 weeks later when the injuries had progressed from the sub-acute phase at which time the residual disturbances to the left hind limb gait could be addressed.

The good thing about foals is that they have a tremendous potential for healing because they are still growing rapidly.  The bad thing is that they are not normally exercised in the true sense until they are about 3 years old when they are being lightly prepared for backing.  My exercise prescription thus required a more imaginitive approach to address the treatment goal of normalising gait so that this foal would not adopt the altered gait pattern permanently which would negatively impact on her future work.

The film shows her original gait analysis session (forget trotting foals up in the conventional way) in a menage (yes, I admit I had to run for cover when she came hurtling towards me when inviting me to play the galloping game) and the progress made in just 2 sessions.  Combining myofascial techniques, phototherapy (LASER) for trigger point resolution and leading over groundpoles, approximately 80% improvement was achieved in correcting the gait abnormality by the end of the second session 10 days later.

In my experience, dramatic improvements in gait correction are made when horses are worked over poles as opposed to working without obstacles.  Also, less is more and it is thus important not to fatigue the horse so as to preserve the quality of the new gait pattern.  The goal is to replace the old movement pattern with a correct, new movement pattern which is mechanically efficient to prevent strain to related structures. Just 5 minutes 3 times per week and long days turned out, combined with electro and manual therapy proved to be sufficient to correct the gait significantly.

Watch this space for updates on this foal’s progress in the future.


Veterinary Physiotherapy students meet the Devil’s Horsemen and War Horse

While working with uber talented movie stunt double and International 4 in hand carriage driver Daniel Naprous today I had a quick pat and chat with one of the equine War Horse movie stars, Joey.  This double was the Joey that got spectacularly caught up in barbed wire in the film.

What a charmer, he seems to know he is extra special.  As any other movie star would do, he puckered up and blew a kiss to his adoring fans – the 3 veterinary physio students who accompanied me for mentoring earlier today during a routine check ‘n tweak of 2 of Daniel’s supremely athletic carriage horses.  I just knew this practice placement would be popular with them when I announced that I was nipping over for the afternoon!

‘Joey’ made an appearance at the red carpet movie premiere star studded extravaganza as reported by the Daily Mail earlier this month.

A working trip to the Naprous Devil’s Horsemen yard always reminds me of what a great pleasure it is to be a veterinary physiotherapist.  The students I mentored today were thrilled not only to see Joey and help me work on a couple of International carriage horses competed by Daniel Naprous, but also, dad Gerard Naprous,  stunt double in zillions of films, showed them his stunning collection of carriages used for films and the fantastic vintage tack. Daughter, Camilla Naprous, immensely talented stunt double and trick rider, was back from filming in Northern Ireland and other trick and stunt riders were busy riding young future equine stars.

devils horsemen carriages
Gerard Naprous shows the students his magnificent carriage collection
Mega talented Team Naprous carriage horse snoozing through his TLC session.


Horse trainer, trick rider, dressage rider and resident groom, Laura Green (who has the best collection of photos on facebook that I’ve ever seen there, so make sure to look and connect with her!) was busy prepping Daniel’s team for the coming carriage driving season. It was truly amazing to watch 2 lippizaners gracefully step sideways into their harness alongside their carriage (I so have to film that for you next time I’m there)in readiness for a jaunt around the countryside with Daniel.   Yes, behind every great elite horse is a truly great team!

Best of luck to the Naprous family and Laura Green for their highly varied activities for the year ahead.PS.  I picked up the 2012 Devil’s Horsemen events schedule for the year ahead and will be booking a highly popular unique action packed birthday party there.

Veterinary Physiotherapy students working with Camilla Speirs’ Portersize Just a Jif

The year has got off to a very fast start for me.  Jan 2nd was a 200 mile round trip with Veterinary Physiotherapy students to give Camilla, Jif and 2 others in the team a New Year hands on session.

portersize just a jif camilla speirs

Supercool elite athlete Portersize Just a Jif receiving a Perfect Movement Solution

portersize just a jif veterinary physiotherapy treatment caroline lindsay


veterinary physiotherapy course


Camilla and Jif nipped over to England from Ireland for some pre-season training with Ferdi Eilberg and Ian Woodhouse and Jif has been perfecting his four time changes very successfully.  Camilla told us that this little 10 year old 15 hander is booked for Badminton again this year – his third year at the event.  He is in peak form and I will be visiting him again in Ireland next month before he competes at Ballindenisk which promises to be an exciting competition as Olympic hopefuls put on a pre-selection show for their Olympic eventing team tickets.

Camilla and Jif, however, can afford to relax a little when they get there as they finished last season in second place at Boekelo where they beat last year’s Badminton winner Mark Todd!  As usual, Camilla was the youngest rider on the smallest horse.

The students adored Jif and were thrilled to have been invited to both meet Camilla and her team as they prepare for the season and to get some hands on practice on an elite adorable little muscleman and Perfect Mover.   We all wish Jif and Camilla an absolutely Perfect year.

Pilates improves footballer Gareth Bales’ game. What next? Ballet?

I’m not exactly a football fan but I do enjoy armchair diagnostics during the slow motion replays when players are injured.  Thanks to the University of Bedford and my wellspent youth focusing on sports biomechanics and injuries, depending on how they collapse, I can identify which structures were strained and whether or not they will continue to play or be out of action for some time.

Jamie Rednapp has written a very interesting article in the Daily Mail about how cross training can help players prevent injury as well as enhance performance and extend the players’ working lives.  He cites Gareth Bale as a fine specimen who embraces modern day scientific input from Tottenham Hotspur’s technical team.   Does this mean that we may soon see players engaging in other forms of cross training such as ballet where suppleness is combined with strength, stamina, skill and speed as well as supreme dynamic balance to produce seamless athletic performance, the same as for football?

Gareth Bale pilatesGareth Bale Pilates

Agreed, Gareth’s agile performance demonstrates a formidable dynamic stretch of the left hamstrings and gluteals, plus right quadriceps, adductor and iliopsoas muscle groups.   Depending which angle the manoeuvre is viewed from however, it’s a groin strain waiting to happen if he doesn’t knock himself out with his own shinbone in the meantime.  I wouldn’t mind betting that Gareth’s lumbar and sacroiliac region frequently feels the strain as well as his knees and ankles when such a move becomes closed kinetic chain and ground reaction forces kick in.

I therefore don’t necessarily agree that encouraging players to train and perform so far outside the parameters of the normal range of motion for their game is to be embraced as gaining a healthy long term competitive edge although it looks suspiciously like Mr Bale is already secretly rehearsing the Nutcracker.

2012 Free Range Chicken Legislation – Battery Cages Are Banned. Or are they?

The Daily Mail online today has an interesting detailed report on the 2012 legislation banning battery caging of birds.

I remember 40 years ago seeing RSPCA posters campaigning to ban battery cages in commercial egg production.  I believe that in the interim the cages got a tiny bit bigger.  Now the term ‘free range’ has been ‘got at’, no doubt having been debated deep and meaningfully at length between egg producers and politicians who have come up with ‘enriched’ cages.  Each bird will have 600cm square – that’s about the size of a standard laptop computer screen area – with a 7cm high perch and an egg laying box.  It is not clear from the report how many birds will be caged together.

With the perches in the way these birds may well have to do the conga, stretching their wings out around eachother’s waists, in order to make the best use of their exercise area.

Apparently there are fears that British jobs will be lost as food manufacturers switch to imported battery eggs.   I think many more jobs can be gained if the ‘free range only’ retailers took this a step further and ensured that their processed food products containing eggs used free range eggs in line with their ‘free range only’ policies.  In my experience, if you want to buy half a dozen eggs or have one cooked for you it will indeed be free range. This is not always the case for those eggs used in ready prepared food unless it states free range on the packaging.

Legislation has failed these birds.  Vote with your wallets and read the food packaging – for the price of sending 3 mobile phone text messages less per week, we can choose to eat truly free range eggs rather than caged hen eggs.  If more of us did this, it would send a meaningful message to the egg producers and politicians who engage in this legalised animal cruelty in their attempt to throw us a few crumbs and redefine the term ‘free range’.

University of Wales steers towards a new course

Who would think a mighty institution like the University of Wales would undergo such massive acute change?  Who would think the new Vice Chancellor could possibly be so buried in bringing about the changes that he has not seen the news?

New broom, Professor Medwin Hughes, swept clean last month by breaking ties with all collaborative colleges in England and abroad without notice on the first day he took office in his new job as Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales, apparently oblivious to the latest scandal.  He can be seen in the video enthusing about an exciting new future and a new brand of education for Wales as opposed to the future prospects of graduates who are holders of a University of Wales degree certificate or students who have been left without validation for degree courses they are on.

You could say that abolition of remote degree courses with immediate effect was incredibly innovative of Professor Hughes except that this decision was made public days before the second BBC television expose about the University of Wales’ validation activities, resulting in the immigration office becoming very twitchy.  The University of Wales initially publically blotted their copy book last year by what Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, refers to as the bringing of Wales into ridicule and disrepute when BBC Wales’ programme, Week In, Week Out, uncovered that a Malaysian pop star with a questionable doctorate degree was running a college offering courses validated by the University of Wales. 

Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Palastanga’s response to the scandal when it broke was that they would deal with it very thoroughly and learn lessons from what happened.  Wales Online reveal that some rather expensive lawyers were hired to complain to the BBC.    Actions speak louder than words however.   The most important lesson learned seems to be that their preference is now strictly for their validated degrees to be studied with students sat firmly under the University rafters, just like other Universities typically do.  Duh.

Going a step further, BBC Wales News website political reporter, Daniel Davies, likens the University of Wales’ off campus degree courses as appealing to a ‘sub-prime academic market’ .  Ouch.