Horse & Rider Programs

Transform your riding experience through Physical Therapy!


Our Horse and Rider program has been developed to enhance the performance of both the equine and human athlete.

Have you ever found yourself having trouble doing what your riding instructor asks you to do because your body is not strong or flexible enough? Have you ever felt your horse was not able to give you everything you ask because of some sort of pain or discomfort? Does your horse have difficulty with the collection? Lead changes? Speed? Poor lateral flexion in one direction? Poor attitude? Are your physical problems causing your horse to perform poorly? These are all problems that can respond to physical therapy treatment.

How it Works...

For the Horse:

With a referral from your veterinarian, the therapist will perform an initial evaluation of the horse. The first therapist and owner will discuss the animal’s history, current problems and establish goals for treatment. The therapist will then perform a musculoskeletal evaluation, including analysis of gait, posture and range of motion. A treatment plan is then created with possible treatments including full body massage, myofascial release and/or stretching. Follow-up treatments will be scheduled as needed, typically weekly to monthly depending on the horse’s needs.

For the Rider:

No physician referral is required. The therapist will perform an initial evaluation of the rider, discussing medical history, past injuries, current problems and the rider’s goals of treatment. The therapist will then perform a full musculoskeletal evaluation including but not limited to posture, gait analysis, strength and flexibility testing and joint mobility testing. Based on the findings and the rider’s goals, the therapist and rider will work together to make a treatment plan. Hands-on treatment may be recommended along with instruction in exercises to improve rider performance. Follow-up treatments will be scheduled as needed, typically weekly for a period of time, tapering to an as needed basis as problems improve.

About the practitioner:

Dana Hughes is a lifelong horsewoman and physical therapist with over 25 years experience. She is board certified in orthopedics by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

She has personal experience being an injured rider as her junior hunter and equitation career was interrupted temporarily by a back injury. Through the help of physical therapists, she was able to return to competing at a national level. This inspired her to enter the field.

Dana got her to start working on horses right after graduating from college, earning her certificate in Equine Sports Massage. Additional equine training includes equine stretching, Connected Riding Instruction, saddle fitting and Myofascial Release.

On the human side, Dana specializes in strain-counterstrain, a gentle technique to relieve painful trigger points, which can occur in any area of the body. She is well skilled at exercise instruction and helping a person to understand the key changes in posture and positioning to alleviate discomfort.