Susan Brown is a qualified Equine Therapist who was taught by Mary Bromiley MBE, the world renowned Equine Physiotherapy Pioneer.
Susan uses a variety of treatment modalities in her practice including: McTimoney- Corley Animal Manipulation (qualified at the Oxford college of Equine Physical Therapy), Deep Oscillation® and she also treats riders with massage.
Susan, who lives near Cambridge, has worked with horses all her life and in many different countries - mainly as a head girl in horse racing. She also rode as a lady Amateur Jockey) It was while she was working in the US that she witnessed firsthand the benefits to horses of therapy and massage and she decided to add this to her qualifications.
In 2009, Susan read an article in Trainer magazine about the amazing effects of Kinesio Taping on horses' and tried to enrol on a Kinesio Taping equine course, but at that time the nearest courses were in Austria and the expense of transport and accommodation made it prohibitive.
Jack before Kinesio treatment
So when Kinesio UK announced the first ever Equine Kinesio course in the UK early in 2013, Susan was one of the first to sign up. She studied KT 1 and 2 in Gloucester with Olympic Equine Physio Lee Clark, who is one of Kinesio UK's lead instructors.
Just a few months later in July, Luke Prior, a national show jump and event rider based at Houghton Hall Equestrian Centre near Huntington, Cambridgeshire, asked Susan to examine his seven year old, 16.3 sports horse, Stanhopes Fitzroy Blackjack (stable name Jack),owned by the Jones family, who seemed to have an unusual gait which was affecting his performance.
Luke (21) is the resident rider and trainer at Houghton Hall Equestrian Centre. This prestigious venue offers him first class facilities in which to train, produce and compete his horses to the highest standard. Luke has produced and competed horses in various disciplines, competing at elementary level in dressage, show jumping up to 1.20m and eventing various young horses. At Houghton Equestrian Centre, he has fantastic facilities in which to produce and train his horses to the highest level and he is innovative in his approach to preparation and competition.
First of all, Susan looked over the stable door at Jack to examine his stance. She noticed that he seemed to be uncomfortable even at rest. He was displaying signs of lower lumbar sacroiliac pain - standing like a 'goat on a rock' with all four feet underneath him in attempt to arch his back up away from pain. He was also periodically rubbing his hindquarters against the wall - which horses often do to relieve pain.
Susan palpated Jack's back gently and noticed there was a lot of spasm around the sacrum, gluteal muscles and lumber spine. She applied Kinesio Taping to the area using the lumbar taping technique to reduce the spasm, and then applied smaller strips of Kinesio taping to the sacrum using the fascial correction technique, to lift the tissue and increase the circulation underneath.
Jack during Kinesio treatment
Luke was initially sceptical but Susan demonstrated how effective Kinesio Taping was by taping Luke's fingers - one in a way that relaxed the muscles so his finger immediately dropped down and he held it in a totally different way involuntarily. With the initial taping still in place, Susan then taped another finger in a way to stimulate the muscles so Luke was holding this finger much higher, although he couldn't figure out why, although he was comfortable with both applications. Luke was impressed at the way in which the taping was affecting his own muscles and was then happy for Susan to use it to help Jack.
Susan explains: "Owners are often sceptical about what Kinesio Tape can do but as soon as I apply it to them, either on their fingers on the Trapezius muscles in the neck which gives them even more extreme effects and alters their entire posture, then they're happy to let me use it to help their horses. With Kinesio Taping, it's all to do with the way in which you apply the tape: the angle of stretch; the direction; and how much you allow the tape to recoil against the tissue - that gives a variety of different effects. That's why it's crucial to go on a course before you start experimenting on horses as you could get it wrong."
Immediately Jack was taped, Susan and Luke took him out of the stable and into the stable yard. His entire posture had changed and he looked much happier. Since this first application, Luke says he has never stood in the hunched, uncomfortable way again and no longer rubs his hindquarters against the walls. At the time of writing, Susan has been taping Jack regularly twice a week and he is a much happier horse.
Jack after Kinesio treatment
The icing on the cake was that within three weeks of first starting treatment, Luke Prior and Jack (as Stanhopes Fitzroy Blackjack) won the British Show jumping Seniors 'Tri-Zone Airlite Senior Discovery' at Houghton Hall http://www.showmansystems.co.uk/livefeed/hh/157ClassJudge.htm
For more information on Susan Brown, please go to www.equinephysicaltherapy.co.uk
For more information on Kinesio Taping, go to www.kinesiotaping.co.uk