About vetphysio

Vetphysio Limited is a unique New Zealand physiotherapy practice, offering a mobile physiotherapy service for horses, small animals and humans.

Vetphysio Limited began in early 2009 after Sarah Cruickshank returned after four years studying and working in the UK and has rapidly expanded into a very busy practice.

Sarah Cruickshank (Principal Physiotherapist)

SarahVetphysio offers physiotherapy services with a difference. The principal physiotherapist Sarah Cruickshank is the only New Zealander to be internationally qualified as a Veterinary Physiotherapist, and is a registered physiotherapist with the New Zealand Physiotherapy Board. Sarah graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Health Science in Physiotherapy from Auckland University of Technology. After working in private practice in Auckland Sarah was the first New Zealander to be accepted into the Master’s programme in Veterinary Physiotherapy at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London in 2005. She graduated with Master of Science gaining distinction with joint first place and the degree project prize for her thesis on the musculoskeletal anatomy of the racing camel. Her RVC sponsored study involved research both in the Middle East and Australia.

Sarah was fortunate enough to secure a full time position in Hampshire working for Amanda Sutton, author and former British Team Physiotherapist where she broadened her experience and knowledge. Sarah was then physiotherapist to Andrew and Bettina Hoy, and Yoshi Oiwa who at the time were based at Her Royal Highness Princess Anne’s Gatcombe estate in the Cotswolds.

During her time in England Sarah had the opportunity to work at Badminton, Burghley and Blenheim International Horse Trials and was a guest lecturer at the Royal Veterinary College and a clinical educator, a position she still holds and continues to tutor students from the RVC who choose to visit New Zealand as a component of their study requirements. Sarah accompanied Vittoria Panizzon, Italian event rider and her horse Rock Model to the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Hong Kong (where Vittoria was placed 16th) and also to the 2012 London Olympics and her horse Borough Pennyz (where Vittoria was placed 11th). Sarah was their personal physiotherapist and also worked with some of the other Italian Olympic horses. She also treated Japanese rider Yoshi Oiwa’s horse Gorgeous George.

Vittoria and Bug (Rock Model) were the highest placed Italian combination and finished a credible 16th.

Sarah returned to New Zealand in late 2008 to establish her own veterinary physiotherapy practice.

It is a real advantage to be able to treat both horse and rider – as it is impossible to separate out the influence one has on the other. It is also a dynamic relationship based on movement so a physiotherapist who can observe and treat the horse and rider as a combination is both unique and highly effective as Sarah found out when working with Olympic and international 4* event riders and their horses.

Helen Robartes (Physiotherapist)

HelenHelen grew up with animals and always knew that she wanted to work with them. She rode from an early age, competed as a show-jumper, and also tried drag hunting and polocrosse. Animal health and performance, and the connection between horse and rider, were of enormous interest to her, and veterinary physiotherapy became the obvious career choice. She qualified as a human physiotherapist at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, then moved to England and completed her MSc in Veterinary Physiotherapy (with merit) at the Royal Veterinary College of London. She presented the findings of her thesis at the International Conference on Equine and Canine Locomotion (ICEL 7) in Sweden in 2012, and her paper (Head and pelvic movement symmetry in horses during circular motion and in rising trot) was published in The Veterinary Journal.

Helen has worked in South Africa (where she had the amazing opportunity to work with the Kyalami Lipizzaners), England and Denmark, specialising in horses, dogs and cats, as well as human athletes (especially riders). She loves helping her patients to optimise their function and performance, and to achieve a better quality of life. She is passionate about what she does, and has been looking for the right place to invest all her enthusiasm and energy. She moved to New Zealand in 2014 to become a member of the Vetphysio team.