by Karen Perry and Belinda Gatland
ITEC Equine Sports Massage and founder members the Equine Sports Massage Association
Do you have a niggling muscle issue with your horse? Or maybe aching joints, or a wound that is slow to heal? A damaged ligament which is a major set back in your training schedule? Then maybe you too, would benefit from some light therapy.
I have been massaging horses for 21 years. In October 1995, I stepped out from under Mary Bromiley’s wing at Downs House and set about righting all the muscle problems in any horse in close proximity. We were the first students in the UK to be awarded the Equine Sports Massage Diploma by ITEC, and as such, we were breaking new ground and making inroads into a path which would become well-trodden 20 years later.
I worked anywhere I could find people open minded enough to want their horses massaging. I spent 3 or 4 years assisting my colleague Belinda Cullen in Lambourn, massaging hundreds of horses for top trainers including Oliver Sherwood, Brian Meehan and Jamie Osborne.
Back home in Leicestershire, I built a business from eventers, dressage riders and the all-important leisure rider. I then added a canine qualification to my CV, soon becoming inundated with agility and flyball dogs.
As time went on and work increased, my joints started to wear out. Massage is a hugely physical activity and horses are a massive mass of muscle. I began to search for tools to help me continue my job and lengthen my career so I could still offer a quality service.
Having looked at and tried many different devices, nothing hit the spot, until I found the Photizo Vetcare. I had already investigated red and infrared light therapy and this device offered all that, it is a simple to use, affordable hand held machine that was designed for normal animal owners to use on their own animals. I was amazed at how easy to use but also effective it was.
On buying my first unit, I was sceptical but it took away the daily pain in my finger joints in one 30 second treatment. Using it on my equine and canine customers, it helped to “soften” and relax muscle tissue, enabling me to work more deeply more quickly. On animals that are ticklish, sensitive or reactive, it can take the place of invasive treatment, especially on girth issues or inner thigh muscles on horses.
I have used the Photizo with great success on ligament and tendon injuries, splints, skin rashes and sweat lumps, mud fever, girth sores, muscle pulls and tears, trigger points, hip dysplasia (dogs) and cuts and bruises. The ultimate benefit is, I can use it on myself too, from managing arthritis discomfort and RSI, to bruising, burns and tight tendons. I am amazed this winter, that if I treat my awful chilblains once, I don’t have to treat them again for 7-10 days! I am now a reseller for Photizo, offering this amazing little gadget to my customers so they can carry on treating their horses between my visits. It has been a career enhancing device for me.
I provided my colleague and long-time friend Belinda Gatland (previously Cullen) who is currently working in Dubai with Photizo Vetcare, and these are her words;
I have 4 machines with one on permanent loan in Quarantine and one at Dubai Stables. I use the other two units together, I actually get through horses a bit quicker if I use two at a time. Some horses it has improved hugely, certainly more than I would have on my own. It has a great anti-inflammatory effect and I am also having some success with it on atrophied muscle as it seems to give them a kick start. I really believe that some of the horses simply would not have improved so quickly without it.
One of the things I love working on are “tricky” horses, when they are not happy and I need to go into deep tissue. What I have found is I can do a good, or better job with the Photizo Vetcare so this makes for happier, more relaxed horses and a safer therapist. The device takes the edge off instantly, and continues doing its work after I am gone and I feel the horses are getting a lot more out of me. I also use it on trigger points and, in some cases where we know there are inflammatory issues, I will literally blast it with the device and the results have been incredible.
I have used it on nicks, cuts, wounds, muscles, tendons, curbs, sacroiliac problems (amazing), feet, a broken ischium and broken withers, my own bites and bruises, and my son’s broken foot, which healed amazingly quickly.
I can honestly say the Photizo Vetcare has changed my way of work for the better, and is keeping my body going, which is pretty impressive when I am treating 30-40 horses a week!!!