Sandra Blampied competing her horse

The big grey beast that was Inca, part of the reason for my becoming an Osteopath

How did I end up working as an Osteopath? Well it’s a bit of an unusual story, some of you may have heard snippets of it before but if not here is the full story.

I grew up wanting to be a vet, I’d loved animals since I could remember and being of the Vet school and Animal hospital generation becoming a vet seemed like the only logical path for a young girl with a love of animals and a keen interest in the sciences. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be despite hours of work experience at my local vets, on farms and even a regular slot in the pathology labs of Jersey Zoo my A level grades just didn’t cut it – straight C’s in the three sciences not the straight A’s required. At the time it was pretty devastating, realising something you have dreamed of doing for as long as you can think of is beyond your reach.

I still wanted to go to university, escape the island I’d grown up on and see the big wide world of the mainland! So instead I decided to study Equine Science at Hartpury College, this led to 3 fabulous years spent immersed in horses. I’d ridden since a young age, begged and borrowed any time spent with horses I could get so it seemed a natural alternative. During my time at Hartpury I still held an interest in the veterinary aspect of things and was able to study various modules in Veterinary Science and Equine injury and rehabilitation. Those of you that know Hartpury will know of the wonderful Equine Therapy unit that is based there. It is run as a separate business treating all sorts of equine patients as well as being used as a unique teaching facility for the students.  Students are able to volunteer their time at the centre which was something I readily did. Eventually on finishing my degree I gained a job working at the centre as an assistant and thus became immersed in the world of equine rehabilitation including my first introduction to Osteopathy.

One of the key members of the centre team is a outstanding Osteopath, Liz Launder, who was my inspiration into the world of Osteopathy. Watching and listening to her asses the horses and being amazed by how she could deduce what was wrong purely by watching how the animal moved fascinated me. By then I was also lucky enough to have my own horse, he was a tricky beast and an unfortunate parting of company in our early days together had left me with a long standing injury to the right side of my pelvis – something that still reminds me on a daily basis of him even now 16yrs later!!

Thanks to this injury plus the manual nature of the work I was doing caring for all the equine in-patients, I would struggle to sit straight in the saddle. This horse of mine, Inca, was a sensitive beast and had been taught, by his previous owner, weight aids for canter rather than the tradition leg aids. As a result of my inability to sit straight in the saddle, meaning more weight would go down one seat bone than the other you can imagine how disastrous our attempts to get into canter were!

For a long time I questioned what was wrong with the horse, why couldn’t he canter, particularly in one direction, was he lame, did he have a problem? Then eventually the penny dropped, after I had treatment we didn’t have a problem with canter, the issue was mine not the horse’s!  From that point forward I was sold on the idea of Osteopathy and its benefits for both human and horse, as much as I loved the job I had I decided that I wanted to be an Osteopath too. I wanted to understand how the body worked and then use that knowledge to help others. So I signed up for 5 years of long hard study and eventually in 2010 gained my qualification as an Osteopath.

I’d gone into the course wanting to go on to treat animals and yes I have and do treat the occasional dog or horse but my interest grew to be fascinated by the biomechanics and movement of people. How a problem with the foot can affect the back or that pain in your arm could be actually due to an issue in the neck. Osteopaths work as pain detectives, by listening to a patients story then assessing how they move as a whole not just the bit that hurts we have a unique way of understanding and treating the human body.

My interest is still held by horse riders and I love it when they come to see me, usually in a state of desperation as well as concern that I will tell them not to ride – don’t worry I’m not likely to, I understand what it is like!