"I have always struggled to find a therapist for my dressage horses that I can trust or even make a difference to how my horses feel when being ridden. That is until I discovered Sue - now it would seem impossible for me to use anyone else!
Sue is extremely thorough in her assessments, and her treatments are always gentle yet very effective. Never have any of my horses been stressed or uncomfortable during treatment. In fact they all find it relaxing and enjoy the release from the chiropractic and acupuncture, and are always noticeably happier after her visits.
Sue has particularly helped my Small Tour dressage horse, Seigneur II. With Sue's regular treatments, he can reach his full potential in his work. It is a perfect complement to good, correct training and I can ride with peace of mind that he is comfortable and not in pain anywhere in his body.
I have another horse, Julius, who has had a rough time with kissing spine surgery, and a predisposition to a sore back. As a result of his pain, he often has had to have time off work and goes off his food and loses condition because of his pain. After Sue's treatments he immediately looks brighter, gains his condition back and can continue his normal work of dressage and show jumping.
Although Sue lives over 2 hours away from my yard, she is always extremely willing to come and do a few horses for me and is very dedicated to helping them perform at their best. Her genuine interest and care in her clients sets her apart from any other practitioner I know. I don't know what I would have done or where I would be if I hadn't have found Sue!"
Tammy Weal and Cruiser
"I just wanted to thank you for putting Cruiser back together. He flew round Barbary and we had a fab time. Thought you may like to see some pics of him in action!"
"Ronnie was an eight year old 16hh gelding with a reputation. Nervous and prone to panic attacks was the kindest way of putting it - a head case who lost the plot way too often was the other phrase used. Just 8 years old and powerfully built, he had dramatic knee and hock action from his Dutch Gelderlander breeding. He looked like he should make a dressage horse.... but his owner tired of the airs above the ground that were unasked for. Too often these spiralled out of control - with so much pent up power he was quite scary and frustrating. Expensive, calming supplements just added to his costs with no real benefit. In addition he would throw a shoe off a week, and several blood tests showed that he had chronic low white cell counts and anaemia.
Selling him privately was not really an option with such a reputation or veterinary case history - he would only probably suffer in any case, and for all his faults, on the ground Ronnie was a nice, if nervy, horse. I had just started using my horses in management training and since we knew each other through our mutual trainer, Ronnie came to me with a view to semi retirement to do that work. I had learnt a lot from riding other 'difficult' horses and had one with chronic fatigue syndrome. I believe in getting back to basics, time off out in a field with others, no pressure, just relationship building, so I took on the risks.
3 months down the line I began to realise just how difficult a case he was. His breeding meant there was little wither, and he had a fine barrel confirmation. Saddles moved scarily easily, and the shifting weight would just provoke more tension or a plunging buck which of course would shift the saddle further.... not easy. Trying all sorts of saddles was time consuming and expensive, until one day I hopped on and rode bareback just in walk around the school... but at least I was riding - so much for dressage dreams!
I had known Sue Devereux for many years, after all we had written a book together. But I knew nothing about acupuncture and how it worked, All I knew was that I had had a treatment once and it hurt! We live some distance apart, friends but each more than busy with our lives. It never occurred to me that she would come to my area. Then out of the blue she rang to say she was seeing a client in Sussex and could we meet after. They were in a neighbouring yard! We met for lunch and I realised how passionate she was about acupuncture and what a high level she worked at.
We fixed for her to come and see one of my other horses with an old injury - I didn't even think of Ronnie's issues as being veterinary, just behavioural and in need of being ridden through - if I could find a saddle.... Meanwhile I had another blood test taken and was shocked to see not only were the counts still low, but he also had raised muscle enzymes, just as if he was tying up. Yet he was out at grass... since Sue was coming I added him to her schedule. My vet was as puzzled as me and was interested in her opinion.
It was easily the most thorough work up I had ever seen. Sue was polite enough not to call me a coward when I refused to trot more than a couple of circles - she could see how tense and backward he was... He did not show a clear pain response when touched under the saddle, but other indicators helped us realise that he had such chronic deep seated bruising from years of faulty saddles that he was holding himself incredibly defensively and thus very tightly. That was what was causing the high muscle enzyme counts, and probably a systemic depression leading to the anaemia and neutropaenia. I was amazed at how easily he took the acupuncture without sedation - there seemed to be so many needles... and so relieved to have finally made sense of this lovely horse's behaviour. I explained the issue to my saddler Andrew Riley. He was developing a form of flexible tree saddle and arranged for me to try one of his prototypes. We had a follow up acupuncture session a fortnight later and we could all see the difference, the treatments held well, so that he now just has checks every 3 months.
It took time to sort the saddle out, time for the acupuncture to unravel the pain, and time for Ronnie to begin to relax in his work. And now Ronnie is a completely transformed horse. Relaxed, loving in the stable, more confident and playful out in the field, doing everything he can to please under saddle. Even his shape has changed. I am so grateful to Sue and Andrew for their belief in him and helping to get to the bottom of what seemed a hopeless case... As ever, I learnt so much."
Liz Morrison MSc BHSSM