ISBT is pleased to announce the appointment of leading international equine physical therapist and competitor, Suzanne Baker, to its team. Suzanne presents courses in equine and canine ISBT-Bowen Therapy.
Suzanne, based presently in Hong Kong at the world-famous Sha Tin horse racing complex, is a former international three-day eventing and dressage competitor, representing England.
She grew up in a very sporting family; her father, Peter May (dec.) was one of the longest serving captains of the English cricket team and was inducted in to the International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame in 2009, Suzanne and her mother accepting the award. Her mother and sisters also represented England and won European medals in three day eventing and dressage.
Suzanne achieved a degree in Chiropractic in 1991. She is a member of the McTimoney Chiropractic Association, and qualified to treat both humans and animals. She worked in practice in the UK, treating human patients in a busy chiropractic clinic. She additionally treated a large number of canine and equine patients, from racing greyhounds to dachshunds, and racehorses to Olympic dressage horses. There was also the occasional challenge of a farm animal.
Suzanne moved to Hong Kong with her family in 1996. A letter of introduction (from a prominent British horse owner) to a leading trainer at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, resulted in her given, as a trial, the task of rehabilitating a leading Derby winning horse that had fractured its pelvis. The horse was able to recover well enough to race and win, and Suzanne has been treating racehorses at Sha Tin ever since.
Being one of very few women working in the profession at that time, she said, was challenging at first –“they were very polite and kind, but it was very much a man’s world at that stage.” She regards herself as very fortunate to be working with the superb team of veterinarians at the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the world class equine facilities that are provided at Sha Tin. There are around 1200 horses based at the racecourse and a number of the trainers now include Suzanne in their support team.
Word soon spread to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand where “very expensive European horses” are a big part of the competition scene, and she is now a regular visitor there to work on horses at the major equestrian centres. This led to an invitation to accompany the veterinary team for the Asia Games and the South East Asia Games. Suzanne was also honoured to be asked to assist the veterinary team as physical therapist for the Beijing Olympics, the equestrian events being held in Hong Kong.
Having a Diploma in acupuncture (which led to her working in a major traditional medicine hospital in China) and also having studied electrotherapy, it would be easy to imagine that her tool box was full. But she was “fascinated by Bowen,” having been introduced to it in England. “So I looked around and decided ISBT seemed to be the right school to approach. The rest is history.”
Suzanne was responsible for initiating ISBT’s introduction into Hong Kong, completing the human Foundation and Advanced Courses, and assisting in many courses while developing the animal courses based on the human approach.
“It has been a wonderful experience,” she said. “Everyone, including me, was amazed at how simply we could create major change in often difficult circumstances.” Soon after introducing the ISBT-Bowen Therapy work on horses, people with dogs started to find their way to her. “It was really interesting to go from working on huge horses to applying the principles so successfully on dogs. Though dogs don’t respond to being offered carrots like horses,” she said, displaying her quirky sense of humour.
It has taken several years to develop the courses on animals, much of the time taken up conducting trials then confirming the results with further trials. “I think we’ve come up with courses that seem to be a little different to the approach of other animal bodywork courses. It wasn’t just a matter of simply transferring the human concepts to horses. Certainly it’s possible to get reasonable results like that but we were looking for more than ‘reasonable’ results,” she said. “I think we’ve hit on the right formula.”