In February 2017, Animal Therapy Magazine were delighted to support Fitzpatrick Referrals and the Forward Symposium, held at Epsom Downs Racecourse.

From the venue, to speakers, to fellow attendees, the event did not disappoint. Whilst the event had a strong veterinary and therapist attendance, we also met canine trainers and competitors, who, like us, just want to learn how to do the best for our four legged friends.

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick was captivating as always. Mixed with humour and seriousness, he discussed some of the many injuries he comes across when treating competitive and working dogs. Although surgery can be necessary, prevention was also at the forefront of his talks, which made the link to Dr Chris Zink almost seamless!

Dr Chris Zink is a fascinating lady, passionate about what she does and really makes you sit back and think about how you approach cases, what to look out for and how best to work, not only with injury and strain but also general performance in the canine athlete. It’s not always the technical bits that get the grey matter working, but in some cases, it is just common sense, something we often bypass for complicated scientific reasoning! It can sometimes be the basics that make the difference.

PC Ray Haggett, an experienced dog handler and trainer for the Metropolitan Police gave us an insight into the work of a police dog, not only from the side we generally see during riots, searches and persuits, but also behind the scenes, from the booties they have to wear to protect their feet to scaling obstacles, bite work and obedience. There is so much more to these dogs than we see, how strong and conditioned they need to be to do their job and the signs the handlers need to be aware of that may prevent their four legged partners from giving 100%.

A highlights DVD of the inaugural FORWARD Symposium in 2016 is now available to purchase for £30 including delivery and VAT. Please contact Sarah on: [email protected]

Nicola Way, a canine massage specialist, all the way from Vancouver, complimented the talks with some great techniques both owners and therapists can adapt to their treatments, home care and warm up. Massage is a fantastic tool to boost circulation and promote lymphatic drainage, both vital in injury repair and as general maintenance, to ensure mobility is at its optimum. Some great advice and delivered in a way that everyone could understand.


The Forward Symposium is an event we can’t recommend enough. You are treated to highly regarded professionals in their specialist field and it is a great learning event. The 2018 date is yet to be confirmed so keep an eye on their website for updates and information. forward-symposium-2018

Photos: Left centre: Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, Below left: Dr Chris Zink