A Hartpury graduate is providing the perfect therapy to both human and horse as she looks to help a range of riders achieve their Olympic dream.
Dee Holdsworth, 25, has seen her business, Dynamic Sports Therapy, go from strength to strength since completing her Equestrian Sports Science degree at Hartpury. She is now working with a group of elite riders harbouring ambitions of qualifying for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
Dee’s business offers a range of therapeutic services for both the horse and the rider, specialising in elite rider and equine sports massage and performance exercises.
She said: “I knew I wanted to have my own business and luckily I’ve been able to make it a success! I’ve always been involved with horses so it’s great that I’ve been able to start a business within the industry.
“I used to ride as a dressage rider in Spain and I have also been a showing groom and a stable manager in Mozambique, along with many other jobs, but what they all taught me is the thing I love the most is that one to one bond between the horse and the rider.”
Dee offers specialist advice to a host of equestrian athletes, focusing on the unique partnership between horse and rider and how their performance can be maximised, whether that be on the international stage or recreationally.
She said: “With my work, I get to know the horse and rider so well and I also normally end up treating the groom and their horse too, so you really do become part of the team! For me it’s fantastic as I still get the buzz of the International competitions but I also get to know them so well at home.
“I never get out of bed and think ‘oh god, I’ve got to go to work’, because I love seeing both horse and rider grow stronger and stronger. It’s a demanding job and tough at times but it’s never boring and it is incredibly rewarding!”
It was during her time at Hartpury that Dee ignited her passion for equine therapy after a visit from an equine sports massage therapist.
She added: “We got asked on my course who we would like to come in to talk and I asked for Iain Thompson, who at the time was the vice-chairman of the Equine Sports Massage Association (ESMA). I shadowed him for months and knew that after the first day I went out to work with him that was what I wanted to do.
Dee is now the Chairman of the ESMA - the youngest in their history - and her work now takes her across the UK and beyond, including many prestigious competitions.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a lot of fantastic international events in my role but working at the Olympic Games in London is up there,” she added.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be going to Rio but it has been great working with a few of the riders that are in strong contention to be selected for their respective nations. I will definitely aim to be at Tokyo in 2020.
“It’s an honour to be the chairman of ESMA and I am really looking forward to making the association bigger and better. I love working with fellow professionals in all fields of work.”
Dee has also been working with Horse & Hound Magazine to produce a series of videos that focus on a six-week exercise programme designed to help riders at all levels.
“The company said they’d be interested in running some videos that look at how riders can improve their flexibility, strength and fitness,” she said.
“I knew they would be popular but I think we were all surprised how well received they were! Each one has had thousands of views and I’ve had so many people get in touch, so that’s been great. Someone even emailed me if I would put something out on DVD!”
You can find out more about Dee and her business at www.ds-therapy.com.