By Helen Martin
Kath Long and Mick Smith had run their own physiotherapy clinic in Devonport for several years before they came to Helensville in 1993, so it was an obvious move to set up another business in their new town. Susan Narbey bought shares in the company and together they built a spacious, purpose-built clinic looking out over the river on Commercial Road, and the business became a valued addition to the local service.
Moving from town to country Kath was adamant she didn’t want to own a horse but, at Mick’s insistence, she soon found herself the tentative owner of Dusty, a slow, patient Clydesdale who suited her novice riding ability. It wasn’t too long before she caught the bug, joining friends riding at the showground’s and in Woodhill Forest, attending riding clinics and enjoying adding more horses to the family stable. While Mick was creating an arena as a safe environment to train and ride the horses, Kath was becoming increasingly interested in exploring the developing field of animal physiotherapy, completing a Diploma in Equine Acupuncture and Level One Animal Physiotherapy through the Australian Physiotherapy Association. She has now begun a Masters’ degree in Animal Physiotherapy through Liverpool University. While the course theory is studied online, Kath is required to visit Liverpool at the end of each unit to undertake the practical components of the degree.
“It’s all about converting physio knowledge from humans to animals, “Kath says. “I’m very passionate about it, and the more I learn, the more I want to know.”
Kath is already applying what she has learned with sessions in Rider Rehab, where she uses her knowledge of human and animal physiotherapy to help riders and horses overcome riding challenges. “Sometimes it’s the rider who needs muscle balance analysis, sometimes it’s the horse who needs to be more relaxed.” She has also set up a clinic at home doing physio for pets, with her doggy clients appreciating the relief she can give them from their arthritis or injuries.
Having now sold her half of the business to Susan, Kath still works at the rebranded “Physioflex” while having time to pursue her other interests. She’s enjoying the stimulation from her new studies and life in their beautiful new house, recently built on their 28-acres, which is, Kath says, “everything I hoped it would be.”
By Helen Martin