Preparing for your Equine Professional Part II

By Chris Bates, Osteopath (DO), Equine Therapist and Lecturer at London College of Animal Osteopathy (LCAO).


We’re back with Part II of Preparing for your Equine Professional. Let’s start with….

Trainers and Instructors

Here in the UK, one of the first things my trainer wanted was a cup of tea (could we be any more British?), but there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you get the most from their visits.

If you are having a lesson then you can really help yourself by doing a bit of warming up before you get on.

Many people will have been prepping their horse or mucking out so you might feel limber but some simple stretching can really improve your performance in the saddle and avoid those aching muscles afterwards.

One of the big issues with a rider’s position, especially on the flatwork, is tight hip flexors. A simple standing stretch can really help.

Hold onto something steady like a stable door with one hand and take hold of your ankle with the other, draw the lifted foot up towards your buttocks, and stand straight with your hips tucked under you.

You should feel a nice stretch down the front of your hips and thighs. Hold this for around 20 seconds and repeat on the other leg.



It doesn’t matter what discipline you ride; you are bound to have heard the phrase “heels down” at some point. Ankle mobility and calf suppleness are very useful to maintain the depth of the seat and keep you safe when jumping.

Try sitting down and alternate between pointing your toes and lifting them towards you (both ankles). You might need to take your riding boots off as they can restrict ankle movement.



Your spine needs to remain tall yet mobile when riding. Stiffness in your back can hurt you and translate to your horse’s movement too.

Try some simple spinal mobilization before your lesson. A spinal roll is a great way to wake up your back, stand with your feet together or very close, tuck your chin, and slowly roll down towards your knees a bit at a time.

Some people like to breathe out slowly as they do this to support the movement. Breathe in as you rewind the movement back up to tall again.



A gentle side bend can stretch your back but also mobilize your shoulders. With your feet around shoulder width or just over, incline your body over to the side and let your arm raise over your head.

Feel the stretch down your sides, through your ribs, and the length of your arm. Repeat both sides as needed.



A twisting exercise also helps with ridden work as rotation of your trunk is very important in being able to move smoothly on a bend with your horse.

This also helps you become mindful about twisting the wrong way when riding. Simple awareness can transform your sessions.

Raise your arms to shoulder height or clasp them together then rotate your body to the right and then the left. Feel how this alters your pelvis position and weight distribution and become mindful of how that will feel to your horse.



Lastly, make sure your tack and equipment are clean and safe. Check the stitching on bridles and reins to avoid accidents.

Prepare access to any equipment such as poles or jumps so that your trainer can move them around easily to save time (remember you are paying for their time, so make it count).

You might also want to alert other riders to your booking so that there is adequate space to work in the arena.


We all hope that the vet doesn’t need to come out but even a healthy horse needs vaccination, dental checks/rasping, and documents for travel and competitions. There are some things that vets really appreciate and take little to no time at all.

If your vet requires to see the horse move then the same advice applies as in our earlier section on preparing for a therapist. In the stable, much the same applies again as per therapists, however, one thing that can be very useful is to stand on the same side that the vet is working.

This means that should the horse move, they are less likely to move toward the vet, it’s also easier for the vet to communicate what they might need you to do.

If you have bedded down, remove any soiled bedding and droppings and clear the floor of the stable by moving bedding up into banks against the walls; this means that if the vet drops anything such as a needle, vial, or diagnostic equipment you will be able to find it and avoid injuries and extra costs.

Bring papers like your horse’s passport (if you are in a country where one is required) as vaccination dates must be recorded in this and vets may need to refer to them for details.

Vets really appreciate having access to clean washing facilities to wash hands as they may be doing procedures that require being as sterile as possible like a minor operation.

If you don’t have access to running hot water then perhaps boil a kettle and make up a bucket of warm water.

If the horse requires attention for a lameness or illness then it can be handy to have a notepad or voice recorder on your phone to help you remember any aftercare advice given by the vet, there may be a lot to remember such as medication dosing, feeds and routine changes.

So, in conclusion, making time to prepare for your professional can allow you and your horse to get your money’s worth out of it and make the professional’s job smoother.

Think how you would want things to be if you were in the professional’s boots and use that. You can always contact your professional prior to the visit to ask them personally if they have any specifics that they prefer to have in place.

As a bonus note. It is a nice gesture to always offer your equine professional visitors a cup of tea or coffee when they arrive. The offer is always much appreciated, whether they accept it or not!


For more information on how you can become an Equine Osteopath, click here