Helen Robartes

Discipline: Vet Physio

Helen first fell in love with horses when she was 5 years old, if she wasn't physically with them, she was setting up the lawn furniture to make a jumping course, or reading about them, or annoying her school teachers by finding a way to incorporate something about horses into any and every possible aspect of her school life. 

"I was much more enthusiastic than talented, and my parents refused to let me be a professional horse rider or groom, or to do a horse course", says Helen.  

"I thought I would be an equine vet, but it turns out I am a bit too much of a softy for this - I get very emotional when animals are unhappy or unwell, and it can affect my ability to be professional! It took a while to find my calling, but when my dad suggested equine physiotherapy,".

It was then that Helen found her calling and a name for what she was looking for, a way to help horses move well and be happy. She completed a BSc in Physio at Stellenbosch University (South Africa) in 2007, then moved to London to do her MSc in Veterinary Physio at the Royal Vet College of London. The thrill of her first equine patient was short-lived: she was an extremely aggressive mare with a very painful, difficult to manage injury. "I remember having this moment of thinking: it's taken me 10 years of single-minded, dogged perseverance, tears and tenacity, saving money, overcoming severe shyness and moving to a whole new country to get here...have I made a mistake?". 

But her next patient was a darling - what a relief! Helen has worked as a human and animal physio in South Africa, England and Denmark, and jumped at the chance to work with Sarah Cruickshank in Auckland in October 2014. 6 years later, and she is still in Aotearoa, now based in the Hawke's Bay and working for herself.

Last year Helen spoke about how prevention is better (and cheaper!) than cure, and that ground exercises are an important part of improving and maintaining your horse. This year, she will show you how to do some of the most popular exercises, correctly!

Key learnings to take away from Helen's sessions:

  • Unmounted exercise for success in the saddle
  • Correctly using our diaphragms as the main muscles of breathing, to achieve stronger core stability, better posture, softer hands, and use your seats more effectively
  • Learn how to 'activate' and use your diaphragms correctly for proper breathing, and feel the difference immediately as you walk out the door
Jody Hartstone on horse

Connect with Helen


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