Tom Simpson from Equine Performance Physio (EP Physio) is a Sydney based Animal Physiotherapist who has built a successful Equine Physiotherapy practice literally from the ground up! Approaching 8 years of hard work and dedication to the the equine racing athlete and performance horse Tom is proud to say that the acceptance of Animal Physiotherapy continues to grow and with the right education and awareness is of huge benefit to both horse and rider/owner.
Toms stable of racing clients includes the who's who of the racing industry such as Gai Waterhouse, Team Godolphin, Chris Waller, Team Hawkes, Team Snowden not to mention the legendary Bart Cummings of course with grandson James. Amongst his performance horse clients he routinely visits the likes of Brett Parbery, Kate Taylor Wheat, Judy Dierks and more.
Tom as a character is hard working, honest and has a depth of knowledge for the biomechanics of the horse. His passion for equine back health has allowed us to nurture a relationship, with the common goal of prevention is better than cure, we are now working together on some exciting projects.
His versatility of practice also extends to the performance horse. Treating horses for some of Australia's leading riders, his portfolio includes the likes of the Oatleys & Parbery Performance Horses.
We were excited to catch up with Tom as he discusses his highlights from working with Gai Waterhouse's Wandjina on his latest trip to the famous Ascot race carnival in England.
FIRST OF ALL HOW WAS ASCOT? YOU WERE WORKING WITH WANDJINA AMONG OTHERS, THIS MUST HAVE BEEN AN EXCITING ADDITION TO YOUR CALENDAR, WHAT WAS YOUR DAILY ROUTINE?
It was an unbelievable experience. Ascot really is a unique place for the racehorses with no other place on the planet like it. Horses have the right of way and there is literally a symbol of the horse to cross the road at traffic lights. Each day i would watch Wandjina exercise with trainer Gai Waterhouse and then perform his daily physiotherapy routine consisting of acupuncture, soft tissue treatment, range of motion exercises, stretches and icing.
ASCOT IS ONE OF THE MANY FAMOUS RACE MEETS IN THE WORLD, WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT FOR YOU?
The high light was doing paddock selections with Princess Anne in the parade ring!!
YOU HAVE BUILT A SOLID REPUTATION OF AN EDUCATED PRACTICE BASED ON YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, YOU MUST HAVE SEEN A LOT OF HORSES IN YOUR DAY, WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS YOU FACE?
From a physiotherapy perspective the most common regions I treat are back and hind limb pain. This is the main area of propulsion, where the horse gets their drive from so this area can cause a lot of problems for the equine athlete.
WE HAVE COME TO KNOW YOU FROM YOUR PASSION IN EQUINE BACK HEALTH, WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUR JOB THAT YOU LOVE?
I love having a rapport with my patients and them watching them go out and perform, knowing what they have overcome to perform at he highest level.
YOU ARE AN ADVOCATE FOR PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE (DON'T WE ALL!) SO TELL US WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT STRIDEFREE AND PETER'S APPROACH TO EQUINE BACK HEALTH THROUGH SADDLEFIT?
I love the fact that Peter has a detailed knowledge of anatomy and therefore understands the importance of a good saddle fit and the consequences of one that is not. The stride freesaddle to me ticks all the boxes for this approach and I would encourage anyone to viewPeters video of the different trees and the horses response to where they are situated on the horse. It really is a fantastic and detailed piece of education.
WE HAVE SOME EXCITING PROJECTS COMING UP TOGETHER, JUST TO GIVE EVERYONE A SNEAK PEAK, WHAT WOULD BE THE BIGGEST TIP FOR LOOKING AFTER YOUR HORSE FROM A PHYSIO'S PERSPECTIVE FOR CLIENTS AT HOME, TO TREAT RACE HORSE AND PERFORMANCE HORSE OWNERS ALIKE?
There are a couple of things that I would suggest every horse enthusiast/owner do regardless of their discipline. The first thing is stretch without any tack on. Passive Stretching of the forelimb and hind limbs is a fantastic way of preserving range of motion, increasing some blood flow and the horses absolutely love it. You can actually teach them to do it themselves quite quickly.
The next thing I find extremely effective is any hint of back pain a heat pack prior to exercise and icing of this area post exercise can be a fantastic way of managing this region very effectively. The horses respond very very well.
ONCE UPON A TIME, EQUINE TREATMENTS SUCH AS PHYSIO DIDN'T EVEN EXIST, TREATING YOUR HORSE WITH AN 'EXTRA CURRICULAR' TREATMENT WERE NOT APART OF A TRAINERS ROUTINE NOR AT TIMES EVEN CONSIDERED. NOW IT IS A PREREQUISITE FOR PROFESSIONAL TRAINERS OR PERFORMANCE RIDERS TO TREAT THEIR HORSES, TELL US HOW THIS HAS CHANGED AND WHY?
I think like anything education and awareness from the right professionals is key to acceptance. It as an area often poorly understood and I think it is an area in which some people place either too much or too little emphasis. As diagnostics from the veterinary profession of areas like the back that is amenable to physiotherapy treatment have improved so have the acceptance of the treatment principles.
WITH THE INDUSTRY GROWING YOU WOULD SEE MANY 'HOME SCHOOLED' PHYSIO'S AROUND LIKE WE DO SADDLE FITTERS, WHAT TIPS CAN YOU GIVE THE PHS CLIENTS TO ENSURE THAT THEY CHOOSE THE RIGHT PERSON WITH ENOUGH EXPERIENCE TO TREAT THEIR HORSE?
It is non negotiable in my opinion to have an educated professional assess and more importantly treat your horse. They work in association with the veterinary profession at all times. A qualified Physiotherapist has attained an undergraduate degree in human physiotherapy followed by a masters in animal physiotherapy.
SO WHEN YOU ARRIVE BACK HOME (WE HEAR YOU LIVE IN BONDI! NICE PART OF THE WORLD) WHAT IS NEXT ON THE EQUINE PERFORMANCE PHYSIO CALENDAR?
Yes Bondi is a great part of the world!! In the coming weeks, in the thoroughbred world all focus will be on the preparation for the horses racing in the Spring Cup carnival in Melbourne. It really is my favourite time of the year from a racing perspective and is so much fun on and off the track! The performance horse world will also keep things busy in the later part of the year.