Dr. Joanna Robson, DVM, CVSMT, CMP, CVA, CSFT

Vet Teaches Riders to Recognize Equine Back Pain

Dr. Robson has dedicated her life to the compassionate understanding of the horse to eliminate equine pain and maximize performance and longevity. In her practice Dr. Joanna Robson combines traditional western veterinary medicine and horsemanship, with a holistic healing approach.  Dr. Robson works internationally to promote education about recognizing and understanding pain in horses….and teaches people what they can do about it! “The relationship of saddle-fit to equine performance is my obsession!” states Robson, a certified member of Saddlefit for Life® professionals dedicated to the science of saddle fit.

When her horse needed help healing from a back injury, Dr. Robson determined to learn everything possible about a grounded holistic approach to pain-free performance and longevity in our horses. She works to build a community of like-minded professionals, including other veterinarians, farriers, saddle-fitters, and therapists.

“More than anything I would like people to take a step back and listen to their horses.”

In her book “Recognizing the Horse in Pain… and What You Can Do About It!” (©2009; www.recognizingthehorseinpain.com ) Dr. Robson acknowledges the ongoing training she receives from Jochen Schleese. “I would like to thank Jochen Schleese of Saddlefit 4 Life. You saved my horse’s career and in doing so, shaped mine. I acknowledge that the saddle fitting material in this book is largely due to your years of experience and passion for teaching.”

The following is an excerpt of Dr. Robson’s teachings on her website: www.inspiritusequine.com and her article: “The Anatomy of Saddle Fit”

  “Too often people miss the signs of their horse’s discomfort. Short and choppy strides, loss of topline muscle, bulging shoulders, hollow-back – these are all symptoms of a horse in pain.  ‘Stall Rest and Bute’ is mistakenly the treatment when the underlying cause cannot be found, and joint injections don’t treat the underlying cause of joint instability. Too often the horse is blamed for being bad, or intentionally trying to anger its owner. We must learn to take a step back and listen to what the horse is trying to tell us. Most behavioral and training issues are merely the horse’s expression of pain” states Dr. Robson.

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For more information or articles by Dr. Robson on saddle fitting, visit: www.InspiritusEquine.com or www.sustainabledressage.net.

 

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Testimonials

The riding school where I first took lessons had "good" saddles, made by a venerable European manufacturer, so when I noticed my riding was uncomfortable, I assumed a problem with my position. Eventually though, I realized that no position was comfortable, that riding varied from unpleasant to excruciating. Nobody else seemed to have a problem, and my instructor was not a person with whom anyone discussed non-public parts of the body, so I just accepted that riding was painful. Until I rode in a friend's saddle, made by another venerab1e European manufacturer. It was an old saddle, but the moment I sat in it I was like Goldilocks in Baby Bear's chair -it was just right. Painless! Amazing! So I measured, compared, tried other saddles; then my husband made me foam blocks that I placed next to my stirrup bars to widen the saddle waist until I could buy a used saddle-shaped -like-me. If I or my instructor had had Jochen Schleese's important book “Suffering In Silence”, I would have been spared years of pain and frustration. It seems an unfortunate human tendency to take no steps toward a solution unless the ultimate solution is achievable, like the onlooker who wondered why to throw a single starfish in the sea if they couldn’t all be saved.  I can’t afford to buy custom saddles for my school horses, but there are many things I can do, with the information in Mr. Schleese's book, to make my horses and my students more comfortable. Correct diagnosis is vital to solving problems, and its information that you need to make a diagnosis, like the significance of saddle length, gullet width, equine asymmetry, billet placement, cantle angle, and many other features of the interface between rider and horse. Little, inexpensive things like foam blocks can make the difference between painful and painless for both the equines and the humans you are responsible for, if you have the information that comes from Mr. Schleese's experience, we may not be able to do everything, but we should do what we can.

— Katie Aiken, Riding Instructor Magazine Copy Editor Fall 2014

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