In discussion with Mary Frances, CEO of Moorcroft Equine Rehabilitation Centre, about future plansfollowing the appointment of Chief Veterinary Advisor, Dr Sue Dyson

Tell us about Moorcroft and how it was established

Moorcroft Equine Rehabilitation Centre is a charity in Slinfold, West Sussex. Established in 1999, the charity originally focused on helping ex-racehorses to transition into a second career. Now Moorcroft provides equine rehabilitation and re-training to all horses, helping injured or damaged horses as well as dressage, showjumping, racing and/or leisure horses. Moorcroft runs a training and education centre offering bespoke courses with industry experts on all aspects of equine soundness, rehab and care, and is a centre of excellence with a high standard of facilities including a newly built indoor school with viewing platforms.

What are your main goals?

In short our goals are:

  • To truly help every horse that comes our way in a long-term sustainable way.
  • To help and give confidence to any rider/trainer that seeks our help with their horse or comes to a course or lecture here.
  • To continuously build our own knowledge and practical skills on the management of Equine Lameness issues and Back Pain in horses and to truly learn to prevent it.

Our main focus is to give every horse the best possible chance of a pain free existence; all that we do centres around that. We have extensive experience – our staff here have been with us a long time and continually build on their knowledge. We use a strong team of excellent vets and physiotherapists who help us hugely in our quest. Another one of our goals is to be a centre of education and for that reason we run as many educational courses as we can in all areas of equine rehabilitation so we can pass on our knowledge to others and therefore help more horses. Some of the regular courses that take place at the centre include Long-reining, Rehabilitative Riding and Equine Massage along with talks on Gut Health, Nutrition and many more.

We have been rehabilitating exracehorses for many years and they all come with their problems. Some are very young, others much older, but we also help other breeds who suffer from lameness issues or problems and are in need of rehabilitation. More importantly these horses need a management system for the future so they can live a much more comfortable life. Horses can come to us for a few weeks before returning home having improved; whilst some stay longer. We like to work WITH the owner/ rider so nothing is hidden and so the rider goes away with better skills and more understanding. Most horses have problems but it is learning to manage the condition well so the horse is comfortable that is important and often we can help with that.

Here at the Centre we believe all horses deserve a pain free working life and that it is our responsibility to achieve that - especially if we have decided to ride them for our enjoyment.

With Sue Dyson joining your team what are the first projects you’d like to get started with?

We do not rely on guesswork so all that we do is centred around firstly obtaining a correct diagnosis, followed by proven treatments. For that reason we are delighted that Dr Sue Dyson is happy to take on the role of being our Chief Veterinary Adviser. Dr Dyson has a wealth of experience in so many veterinary areas and we are blessed to be able to draw upon all that knowledge and experience. The horses at the centre will, undoubtedly, benefit enormously.

Dr Dyson has particular expertise in equine lameness and poor performance, with extensive experience working with sports horses, leisure horses and racehorses. She has also ridden to upper national level in Eventing and Show-jumping, and holds the Instructor and Stable Management certificates of the British Horse Society (BHSI). Her extensive background knowledge relevant to rehabilitation of horses will provide us with an excellent source of support and guidance.

What areas of equine research do you feel are vital to explore?

The lockdown has focused all our minds on the here and now, and our main focus is to help provide support and help on the education of both Horse and Rider. We are also committed to improving all veterinary care for the horses here, and Equine Physiotherapists are a large element of that work.

Last year Dr Dyson gave an excellent talk at Moorcroft to Equine Physiotherapists about identifying pain in horses. The event was fully booked, and we had excellent feedback from the attendees who greatly benefitted from the discussions and practical demonstrations. We are planning for Dr Dyson to offer a follow up session in September on Equine Lameness – another key area of focus for her and the Centre. We are also planning further talks for Physiotherapists and/or vets throughout 2021. Dr Dyson is - of course - open to considering any topics offered by the professions she helps, and working with Moorcroft enables her access to the horses and the facilities needed.

We are also currently trying to organise a monthly Dr Dyson M.O.T. Clinic for Horses. Many physiotherapists we are in touch with have fed back that they would love somewhere to send their client’s horses in order to receive a better diagnosis of the underlying conditions that they are treating. This is Dr Dyson’s area of expertise and could help many; more information coming soon!