The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

Beginners mind and horse physiotherapy

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” Shunryu Suzuki

In meditation, we are often reminded of ‘beginners mind’, the act of approaching something as though it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it / done it / felt it / been there, etc. As a Chartered Physiotherapist, I’m aware of the ‘curse of knowledge’, the assumption that everyone else knows the same things I do. As a non-tech person, that ‘curse of knowledge’ becomes very obvious to me when a tech person is trying to explain to me how to do something that I’m struggling with but they find easy.

Approaching a situation with a beginner’s mind helps me to maintain a sense of awe, and I love that feeling. Listening recently to a meditation, it occurred to me that I don’t need even to try to have a beginners mind when it comes to my work (and yes, I’m well aware that means that my mind was drifting – that’s ok, one of the aims of meditation is to be able to notice the mind drifting off and gently bring it back to the moment, so I’m not beating myself up for that!). 

Anyway, back to work… The body is incredible. The neuromusculoskeletal system, the internal organs, the hormonal system, the circulatory system, and so much more. There is no way we can wrap our heads around how everything functions together to create us, a functioning human being, or to create a horse, a dog, a cat, an ant, etc. And yet, every day, I have the privilege of working with the horse’s neuromusculoskeletal system to effect a change. I assess the horse and notice where he is stiff or sore and what movement is restricted. Then, I do my work and reassess. Within 20-30 minutes, there are huge differences. He no longer reacts when I palpate the sore back. The front leg that couldn’t stretch forward now moves freely through a full range of movement. The stiffness that I felt picking up a back leg has eased. How can I not approach that with a beginner’s mind? Even after all these years, each treatment still feels like a miracle.

So, thank you to all my clients who allow me the luxury of treating their horses because you enable me to approach the world with a beginner’s mind every day.

Your challenge today, should you wish to accept it, is to find something you can approach with a beginner’s mind and a sense of wonder. Drop me a message or leave a comment to let me know how you get on.


Sue Palmer MCSP, aka The Horse Physio, is an author, educator, and award-winning Chartered Physiotherapist. Sue specialises in understanding the links between equine pain and behaviour, caring deeply for her clients, and promoting calm, connection, courage and confidence through curiosity, compassion, clarity, and creativity.

Popular books and online courses from Sue Palmer include:

Harmonious Horsemanship, co-authored with Dr Sue Dyson

Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?

Horse Massage for Horse Owners

Stretching Your Horse: A Guide to Keeping Your Equine Friend Happy and Healthy

Sue is registered with the RAMP, the ACPAT, the IHA, the CSP and the HCPC.