The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

22.10.2022 The View from the Office

Recently, I responded to a call from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy for stories from people who had an unusual route into Physiotherapy. I don’t know whether my route is unusual, but I’ve shared it with them anyway, in the hope that perhaps it inspires someone towards studying for this fascinating career (either treating people or animals – I think both are remarkable!). Since I’d taken the time to put it together, I thought it was worth sharing here as well, in case it inspires you to follow your passion.

“My journey into Physiotherapy started as an interest in my early 20s, which I was unable to act on for various reasons. I was working with horses, as a groom and rider, and I studied with the British Horse Society and with Monty Roberts, the horse whisperer. I continued to develop academically during this time, studying with the Open University to gain a B.Sc. (Open). Not only that, but I also followed my interest in health through studying a diploma in Anatomy, Physiology and Massage, and later a Sports Massage diploma. As I worked with horses with supposed behavioural issues, I began to recognise that there were physical issues as well. I would recommend to the owner that the horse be checked by a vet and a physiotherapist, and that they then come back to me for further behavioural work. All too often, when the horse came back to me, I could see that there were still ongoing physical issues. With the mindset of ‘If you want a job done properly, do it yourself’, I applied to study Physiotherapy, and was lucky enough to get a place at King’s College London in 2002. I qualified from both the Open University and King’s College London in 2005; it was exciting having two graduation days in one year!

After qualifying, I worked for 2 years in the NHS at Sandwell in the West Midlands, in Outpatients, Community, and Adult Learning Disabilities. I then went on to study an M.Sc. in Veterinary Physiotherapy at the Royal Veterinary College in London. I now work full-time treating horses as a Chartered Physiotherapist registered with the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy ( and the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners ( I have a special interest in helping horses with behavioural issues, particularly ridden, and pointing them towards the right help.

In my time working with horses, I have had two books published, and have just submitted the manuscript for the third, which is co-authored with Dr Sue Dyson, a leading consultant in equine orthopaedics. The first book, “Horse Massage for Horse Owners”, does what it says on the tin. The second, “Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?” helps owners to understand the root cause of apparent performance or behavioural difficulties with their horse, and therefore to work towards a solution. The third book has a working title of “Recognising Pain in Ridden Horses: Performance, Partnership and Potential”. It’s based on the research that Dr Dyson has done to produce the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram, a checklist of 24 behaviours that owners and professionals can use to recognise pain in the ridden horse, including when the horse is not lame.

As a single mum with a 10yr old son, I work hard to fit my working day into school hours, and I juggle a lot in the holidays! Family time is crucial to me, and I am always doing my best to achieve a manageable and enjoyable work-life balance.”

Keep an eye out for my next book, ‘Recognising Pain in Ridden Horses: Performance, Partnership and Potential’, co-authored with Dr Sue Dyson, published by J A Allen, due 2023. Sign up at to be kept up to date with new information as it comes available. Watch a FREE 30-minute documentary on recognising pain in ridden horses here.

Here’s a FREE 30-minute presentation by Sue Palmer on how to recognise pain in your horse.

Other books by Sue Palmer M.Sc. MCSP:

‘Horse Massage for Horse Owners’

‘Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?’

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2022

October 22, 2022
Sue Palmer