Sue Palmer MCSP aka The Horse Physio
Sue Palmer has worked in the equestrian industry for over 25 years. During this time, she has been fortunate enough to work with some truly inspiring owners and professionals. With a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy from Kings College London, a MSc Veterinary Physiotherapy from the Royal Veterinary College, and a BSc (Open) from the Open University, Sue has a solid education. However, the horses are, and always have been, Sue’s best teachers, and she learns more every day.
An avid writer, Sue’s published books include ‘Horse Massage for Horse Owners’ and ‘Understanding Horse Performance – Brain, Pain or Training?’ which can be found in the IH Shop. Her list of eBooks is growing each month, and she blogs regularly, as well as posting on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Sue says ‘I’m passionate about making the world a happier place for horse and their handlers, inspiring compassion through sharing knowledge, experience and understanding. I do this through my writing, and through treating horses.’
It is her goal that by 2035, every horse person will recognise that there are links between pain, behaviour and performance.
Sue was the winner of the ‘Equine Physio Specialist Of The Year 2021 (UK)’ in the Influential Businesswoman Awards.
A Q&A with IH Trainer Sue Palmer
(The Intelligent Horsemanship Magazine – Winter 2019)
How long have you been involved with horses? And how did you get involved with them?
My family had a Shetland x called Scottie from when I was very young, I think around 3yrs old. I was lucky enough to come up through the Pony Club and competed at National level with the Riding Club.
Why did you decide to qualify as a Recommended Trainer?
Qualified as a BHSAI and teaching in a local riding school as well as freelancing riding and grooming. I was working with a gipsy horse dealer when a dear friend first took me to watch Monty Roberts. Seeing Monty’s work as a quicker and better way to work with the horses we had through the yard… and I’ve never looked back. I had literally hundreds of horses and people to work with during that time, of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. I couldn’t have asked for a better training ground.
Over time I realised that many of the behavioural problems I was seeing, especially ridden ones, were caused by physical pain. Our horses can only communicate pain or discomfort to us through their behaviour or performance. With more knowledge, understanding, and acceptance, we can learn to recognise pain or discomfort, and we can do something about it.
I found that all too often when I referred a horse on for treatment of a physical issue and asked the owner to come back to me once it was resolved; the pain was still there when they came back to me. In the spirit of ‘If you want a job done properly, do it yourself’, I was lucky enough to enrol onto a BSc Physiotherapy degree at Kings College London. I qualified as a Chartered Physiotherapist, Sports Massage Therapist and Equine Massage Therapist. Then, I registered with ACPAT (Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy) and RAMP (Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners) and am now incredibly lucky to treat horses for a living.
I specialise in helping you to figure out whether your horse’s behavioural or performance problem is down to ‘brain, pain or training’ (or at least, which one to focus on first!). Using a combination of the knowledge, skills and experience I’ve gained through the (many) years of working in so many parts of the equestrian world. Sometimes I can help you myself, often I point you in the direction of someone who can help. Like Monty, my passion and my goal is to make the world a better place for horses.
What has been the proudest moment/biggest achievement in your career?
Having ‘Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?’ published by JA Allen, and producing the DVD to go with it. I am still overwhelmed by the response from the eminent equestrians I asked to write for it, including Monty, Kelly, Lucinda Green, Dr David Marlin, and many more. And I am so pleased that Olympian Richard Davison wrote the foreword after reading the book and liking what he read.
What three things should everyone practice with their horses?
Love. Kindness. Understanding.
IH Trainer Sue Palmer is based in Stafford, Staffordshire.