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.

In Helens sessions she will take you through the idea that prevention is better, and cheaper, than cure! Find out some of the most common reasons people call the physio to see their horse, and how you can prevent these issues, or identify them early and prevent them from becoming big, long-lasting, expensive problems.

Key learnings to take away from Helen's sessions:

  • Basic management concerns that riders often underestimate, which cause big problems withlong-lasting consequences in welfare andperformance
  • Overdoing training and underdoing recovery; how to do some exercises, correctly, so thatthey actually have the desired effects
Jody Hartstone on horse

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