Athletic Equine and Acupuncture
The idea to start a new practise which specialises in helping sports and recreation horses was born from 2 different factors.
The first and most powerful factor was that I have enjoyed a lifetime of caring for my own horses; experiencing all the joys that this recreational pastime can bring. I want to help others experience the same joy with a sound and happy equine friend.
Secondly, while working as an Equine Surgeon at Massey University, I experienced the character of some of the wonderful people in the Sports and Recreation realm when their horses were in real difficulty. These people had real affection and concern for a member of their family going through a life-threatening event. In some cases, I also saw the waste of a life that could have been helped if someone with the right level of knowledge and experience had been able to diagnose problems earlier.
VN BSc(Hons) BVetMed Cert ES(Orth) PhD MRCVS
I have been a pet lover and owner since I was a small child and decided I wanted to be a vet when I was only 7. I learnt to ride in Malaysia at the Selangor Polo and Turf Club and then on to problem commuter belt ponies in outer London.
I worked and qualified as a veterinary nurse in Devon where I also exercised the Spooners and West Dartmoor hunt horses in the frosty mornings before work and worked behind a bar in the evenings. I went to the Royal Vet College, London for my vet training. During my 6 years I jumped at the chance to study for an extra degree in Biomedical Sciences with Orthopaedics as my passion for bones, joints and tendons was already developing.
I graduated in 1998 with Merit and the Coleman prize in Equine Surgery and I was fortunate to get my first position as a clinical training intern at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket with Sue Dyson, a world expert in lameness investigation and treatment and a very accomplished horsewoman. Sport horse work, in particular lameness and imaging, were much of the caseload and prompted the next stage of my training.
First however, I had the opportunity to do some work with the Brooke Animal Hospital on the horses in Pakistan. I went with Prof Bob Schroetor to look at how problems with heat stroke were affecting the working street horses. I examined and helped treat horses in Lahore and Multan with the Brooke trained local vets and advised on ways to improve the care being administered. Whole families rely on these horses for survival and were often very poor with limited facilities. Their humour, resilience and relationships with their horses was humbling.
A 3 year training residency in orthopaedic surgery at the Liverpool University Equine Hospital with Peter Clegg cemented the good start and during this time I passed the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Certificate in Equine Orthopaedic Surgery. I also went to the Ukraine twice as part of a group sponsored by the International League for the Protection of Horses,and helped teach vet students and vets in Kiev and Bila Tserkva about xrays, ultrasound, anaesthetics, surgery and lameness recognition and treatment. I also had the chance to be involved in the FEI Dressage Challenge at the same time where international dressage judges came to judge, teach and train the local top riders. I was spoilt during my stay being lodged in a house with stables on the ground floor and a fun warmblood stallion to ride in the mornings before work.
After Liverpool, a stint with Brendon Bell in Invercargill started my love for New Zealand and after a few years in practice in the South West of England, I returned to NZ as a locum at Massey University. I returned to the UK and worked as a locum at The Royal Dick Veterinary School at Edinburgh University whilst a PhD program was sorted out for me at Massey.
I returned to New Zealand in 2007 to study tendon injury and healing. Whilst I did my PhD at Massey I worked as a locum equine surgeon at weekends and also took some breaks from research to work full time when needed.
With my PhD completed, I decided to begin Athletic Equine and Acupuncture, to focus on my passions of sport horse management and rehabilitation. This allows me to incorporate my training in veterinary acupuncture with my lameness diagnosis and treatment experience to work to keep horses happy and doing what they and their owners enjoy.