The Back In Balance Practice

What the Yorkshire newspapers have said about Jill...

Yorkshire Post Newspaper

Healing hands bring help to horse and hound - By Jo Makel
Copy of article featured in the Yorkshire Post Newspaper - Monday 22 January 2001

When the joints start to seize up and back pain becomes a regular problem, you may want to call on Jill Firth for help - if you are a horse or dog, that is. Ms Firth, from Wetherby, is one of Yorkshire's first qualified McTimoney animal practitioners, offering treatment to horses and dogs.

Horse treatment

People have been using similar therapists for many years, particularly as a treatment for back problems. But in fact the technique, which involves subtle manipulation of the joints, can be used on practically any animal and Ms Firth has even trained on cows and cats.

All joints allow a certain range of movement but a slip or fall, or something like a badly fitting saddle can take a joint to its extreme. The muscles usually tighten around the joint to stop it going any further and so prevent injury, but if they do not then slacken off as they should, an animal can suffer muscle spasm and the joint can get "stuck". This can lead the animal to change the way it moves and cause other injuries as it compensates for the affected joints.

Working animals are most at risk of injury and, according to Ms Firth, some police forces are already seeing the benefits of this kind of complementary treatment. "You are looking for areas of tension and using a very subtle, short, sharp thrusting movement which is different, depending on the animal you are working on," she explained. "Those animals who work really hard or are performing on a regular basis, like racehorses, greyhounds, sheep dogs and police dogs can have problems. The Southampton Dog Constabulary have found that regular use of a practitioner reduces the incidence of injury and prolongs their working life. "For greyhounds there is a range of care to ensure they are 100 per cent fit for racing."

Ms Firth, who has worked with horses all her life, combined her studies for her Post Graduate Diploma in Animal Manipulation, at the McTimoney Chiropractic College, with her job as a tutor in equine studies and animal care at Park Lane College in Leeds. To prepare for her practical tests, she used the technique on her own horses and pets and found her dog loved it. "Cats can be slippery characters. I tried it on my own cat and ended up chasing her round the kitchen, but the dog would stand there for hours and let me do it," she said. "I have done it on cows which can be quite scary - even in a cow crush they can still move about".

The laws in relation to the treatment of animals by non-veterinary therapists are strict and Ms Firth will not work on an animal without a vet's referral, but she believes they are becoming more open to complementary therapies and hopes there will be a market for her new skills.

She also has a special interest in arthritic conditions affecting horses and is carrying out research into supplements that claim to help. She hopes to present those findings to the British Equine Veterinary Association Congress later this year.


Yorkshire Evening Post Newspaper

Copy of article featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post Newspaper - Tuesday 23 January 2001
Jill's tops in animal care

Getting animals back to full fitness is just the job for a West Yorkshire woman who has become the first qualified McTimoney animal practitioner in Yorkshire. Jill Firth, from Wetherby, has become the first qualified McTimoney animal practitioner in the county after completing, with distinction, a Post Graduate Diploma in Animal Manipulation. Jill, an animal care tutor at Park Lane College, Leeds, who has been involved with horses all her life, explained: "All forms of 'complementary' therapy are increasing and all animals can benefit from McTimoney care, particularly those expected to perform on a regular basis.

Dog treatment

"This includes competition horses, all riding horses and ponies, police dogs, working dogs, obedience, agility and show dogs."

Jill says that for animals McTimoney treatment is relatively gentle and painless, and involved a short, sharp thrust to a specific area to release muscle spasms. This returns the joint to its normal range of movement and creates the right conditions for healing to take place.

Mobilise
And just as with humans, McTimoney treatment can help with muscle spasm, tension, reduced or poor performance, walking abnormalities besides chronic conditions such as stiffness. And Jill says even arthritic conditions can benefit from McTimoney treatment as it helps to mobilise affected joints and avoid secondary injuries.


Wetherby News

Jill muscles in to help the animals - By Rosemary Cook
Copy of article featured in the Wetherby News - Friday 26 January 2001

COMPLEMENTARY therapies are everywhere nowadays and used successfully by thousands of people treating all sorts of ailments but one Wetherby woman is proving it is not just humans who can benefit.

McTimoney Treatment

Jill Firth from the Rowans is the first person in Yorkshire to qualify as an McTimoney animal practitioner. She completed a postgraduate Diploma in Animal Manipulation at the University of Wales in conjunction with the McTimoney Chiropractic College in Oxford. And now she visits animals across the area suffering from all sorts of problems from arthritis in dogs to movement problems in horses as well as behavioural difficulties.

She said: "I have always been interested in complementary therapies for animals, then I discovered this course in Oxford and applied for it and got in." Jill qualified last year and since then has started treating animals from her home or going out to them.

All the animals Jill treats are referred to her by a vet and if they are not she will contact the vet herself. She said: "All forms of complementary therapy are on the increase and all animals can benefit from McTimoney treatment, particularly those expected to perform on a regular basis. This includes competition horses, all riding horses and ponies, police dogs, working dogs, obedience, agility, and show dogs."

Jill says many of the injuries she treats are often similar problems from which humans suffer, such as repetitive strain injury, trauma or accidents. She said: "With horses a lot of it is equitational problems where a horse is stiff on one side and not on the other or they suddenly refuse to jump." The treatment works by Jill using her hands to manipulate the spine and other parts of the body. It is relatively gentle and painless and involves short, sharp thrusts to specific areas to release muscle spasm and help joints move. She said: "McTimoney treatment uses the hands and the end result is relieving muscle spasm and allowing the body to heal itself."

According to Jill most of the animals receiving the treatments really enjoy it. She said: "Sometimes they are suspicious when you start but they soon realise you are there to help them and some of them like it so much they fall asleep." And it is not only the animals who enjoy it - Jill says the ability to treat animals and help them is a really rewarding job. She said: "It is lovely when you see a horse walking and trotting and it is stiff then you give them a treatment and you see it moving easily. "I have been treating an ex-racehorse the owners did not think they would be able to ride again. I treated it three times and it is not the same animal" For more information on what Jill does you can visit her website at www.back-in-balance.co.uk


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©  Jill Firth - The Back In Balance Practice, Wetherby, West Yorkshire