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By AMANDA BOWES

A life long love of horses has led Katrina Houston to complete a Diploma in Sports Massage for Horses.

The part-time Amberley School teacher, who has taught for 17 years, is fulfilling her dream of working with horses and when not in the classroom can be found giving horses a deep sports massage.

Katrina says she hopes to eventually be on the road treating horses full time.

Working on horses – from gallopers to eventers – Katrina says it is very satisfying to see a horse respond to treatment and become relaxed as tight muscles are eased.

“So much can affect a horses performance, saddle fitting, hoof health, what the horse is being asked to do, it all has an impact on their muscles therefore behaviour.”

Katrina usually gets called when an owner notices a difference in a horses’s behaviour. Horse owners are generally in tune with their horse and changes in behaviour can indicate an underlying muscle problem.

Katrina uses a lot of stretches to find out where a horse is sore along with the hands-on technique of finding where the knots and sore spots are.

“It’s a very physical job, by the time I have finished a deep massage on a horse, I’m pretty tired, but it is great to see the horse happier.”

Performance horses that are like extreme athletes are the most susceptible to sore muscles, just like their human counterparts.

Each visit from Katrina takes about an hour and a half and she takes the time to get a full history of the animal and listen to the owner’s story.

“The most important thing is to start treating the horse before a problem gets too bad.

“The signs of sore muscles may be something as simple as the horse struggling on a canter lead. The earlier a problem is treated, the better.”

As well as looking after the needs of other people’s horse, Katrina has two young thoroughbreds she is working up to be eventers, so her vocation helps keep them in tip top shape.

“I love doing the deep sports massage and meeting the owners and trainers of the horses, it’s fantastic to be doing something I’m passionate about. After working in the classroom and being mentally stimulated, I go out to horses and get a good physical workout.”

Katrina is happy to travel far and wide to attend to her equine clients. If anyone is interested in her work with the deep sports massage, they can go on to Facebook kh horse and pony therapy.