My ru­ral life

Laura Kirk-Bradshaw is a man­ager and equine ther­a­pist at Rook­ery Equine Spa and Ther­apy Cen­tre in Nantwich

Cheshire Life - - Inside - WORDS: Bethan An­drews

A day in the life of an equine ther­a­pist



As an equine ther­a­pist, it’s my job to care for horses stay­ing with us for a few weeks in the six-sta­ble liv­ery, and re­ha­bil­i­tate or pam­per horses in the ther­apy cen­tre. The liv­ery horses might be on hol­i­day while their own­ers are away, sports horses that come to us for ex­er­cise or horses that need re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. We also ac­cept day visits. We get a lot of race­horses that come for treat­ments and sup­port with re­cov­ery post­com­pe­ti­tion and to help pre­vent in­jury. As man­ager, my first job is to look at the rota and go over what needs do­ing with Grace Wal­lace, the owner of the busi­ness.



First up, it’s break­fast time – the horses are very vo­cal about be­ing hun­gry! Break­fast bowls will be dif­fer­ent de­pend­ing on the nu­tri­tional needs of the horse. Some of Grace’s own horses are preg­nant at the mo­ment, so we’ll have foals on the yard next year. Their diet is very spe­cific for ex­am­ple, made up of stud mix, which is pre-natal food. One mare has been hav­ing prob­lems with colic, so she has a Yakult to set­tle her tummy! We also fill hay-nets for night time, and hang those on the out­side of the sta­ble.



We all muck in and muck out to­gether and we’ll put the horses out of their sta­bles into the arena for a leg stretch. There’s of­ten clean­ing up out­side that needs do­ing, as we pride our­selves on keep­ing the yard very clean. We’ve def­i­nitely got the wow fac­tor and when some­body comes into our yard for the first time, they’re blown away by how beau­ti­ful it is. We’re not just a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre, we’re a lux­ury one and ev­ery­thing is five-star.


I’ll look over who’ll do each treat­ment, when we can fit in breaks and other tasks like ma­chin­ery main­te­nance and groom­ing. As a lux­ury re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre, there are lots of dif­fer­ent tai­lored ther­a­pies that we do from pulse elec­tro­mag­netic mas­sage ther­apy that in­creases the rate cells re­pair, and heat ther­apy in the so­lar­ium, to the wa­ter tread­mill and ther­a­plate treat­ment which uses wave ther­apy to in­crease blood flow in the an­i­mals, pre­vent in­jury and break down scar tis­sue.



We’ll start treat­ments on the liv­ery horses first, be­fore mov­ing onto the day ap­point­ments. Our wa­ter tread­mill is used on horses that are of sound health, and it in­creases mus­cle tone, sup­ple­ness and stride length. We also have a salt­wa­ter spa which helps with soft tis­sue dam­age and in­flam­ma­tion. The cold­wa­ter ther­apy from this and the Ep­som Salts help to re­duce the risk of in­jury and bring re­lief from pain. It’s like a hu­man spa! We ac­tu­ally of­fer hu­man and horse spa days now. You can leave your horse with us and we chauf­feur drive you to and from a lo­cal spa where you can en­joy a hu­man spa day while we pam­per the horses. It’s not only about re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing, it’s about pam­per­ing too. We are go­ing to be the first ther­apy cen­tre in the UK to be Bri­tish Horse So­ci­ety ac­cred­ited, which is amaz­ing.



The ther­apy lasts all day, but some­times there will be time for a break in the treat­ment. I’ll take one of Grace’s com­pe­ti­tion horses out for a ride. Some­times, we all do it to­gether and it’s nice to have that team­bond­ing. It’s a busy job but it cer­tainly isn’t a chore, I love it!



If it’s busy and we work late, my two boys, aged seven and eight, are wel­come on the yard. Be­ing around horses is my happy place and I’ve seen the pos­i­tive ef­fects on my chil­dren as well who both have autism – it’s pro­found the way it calms them. As a small team, it’s not just a job, it’s a fam­ily and a sec­ond home.



I’ll do some of the ad­min side of the busi­ness once I’m home, such as pay­roll and emails. I tend to sit around in my jodh­purs for a few hours un­til I get shouted at by my hus­band. I’ll still be work­ing in my py­ja­mas late at night, up­dat­ing so­cial me­dia. When you’re re­ally pas­sion­ate about some­thing, your brain doesn’t switch off!



Although life with two kids can be chaotic, I try to get bed at around 10pm, oth­er­wise I won’t be get­ting up the next day!


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