Physios among large support team at World Equestrian Games

Wednesday 12th September 2018
Physiotherapists at the World Equestrian Games will have an interesting new challenge on their hands.
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A group of six physiotherapists are part of the support team that has travelled with the British riders and horses to the World Equestrian Games, which is being held in the US this month. 

The physios will be supporting 25 team GB riders, who will be taking part in eight different disciplines at the event in North Carolina as they seek to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Only half of the team are actually responsible for the riders, with Ash Wallace, Jennie Owst and Lucy Bell taking care of the human competitors, while three equine physios will help ensure the horses are kept in good shape. 

Speaking to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists' website, Ms Wallace, who is employed by the British Institute for Sport and has worked with many olympians in different sports, said this competition would be the "most complex" she has been involved with.

She explained: "My role is looking after the health of the riders, but I also work very closely with the equine physios. 

"One of the things that attracted me to this sport is the complexity of what the horse is doing to the rider and vice versa."

This means, for example, that a problem with a rider's hip can have a consequent impact on the balance of the horse. 

However, she is very excited by the kind of challenge this will bring, commenting: "I've been lucky to work in many sports, but this will be a highlight, I’m sure."

The work may exemplify just how varied the workload of sports physios can get and the kind of partnerships they can be involved with. However, it also shows how they can play a vital role in helping bring about sporting success. 

In the last Olympics in Rio, for instance, Great Britain won five medals in the Equestrian, with Nick Skelton and Charlotte Dujardin taking gold. Dujardin also won a silver medal, as did Carl Hester and Spencer Wilton. 

Written by Matthew Horton

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