Eight physiotherapists will be part of the British Equine Federation’s largest ever support team going at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina, USA, starting today.
Twenty-five team GB riders and horses will compete in eight disciplines, including dressage, eventing, jumping and para-dressage over two weeks with the goal of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Ash Wallace is lead physio for athlete health, alongside Jennie Owst and Lucy Bell, while Vicky Spalding, Rachel Greetham and Louise Carson are in charge of equine physio. Sam Daplyn and Lee Clarke are supporting the British Endurance Team horses and riders.
In addition, ACPAT chartered physios are supporting other nations at the top level - Kerry Clampton for an Irish rider and Helen Mathis with the Hong Kong para riders.
Ms Wallace, who is employed by the British Institute for Sport, and has previously worked as a physio for a number of Olympic sports, including rowing, said this will be ‘the most complex games’ she has worked on.
‘My role is looking after the health of the riders, but I also work very closely with the equine physios,’ she said. ‘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.
‘It’s essential that the rider is well-balanced to not inhibit the horse, for example, one of our horses was imbalanced because of problems with the rider’s hip. There are so many variables to consider and manage.’
A welcome challenge
Good team working is also essential, she said, listing a saddler, farrier, grooms, coaches for each discipline and a chief medical officer as part of the support team.
Shipping all the equipment is also a logistical feat, totalling 10 tonnes of air baggage. At the destination they will be competing in average temperatures of over 30 degrees and 70 per cent humidity.
Despite the challenges, Ms Wallace said: ‘I’ve been lucky to work in many sports, but this will be a highlight I’m sure.’
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