Position: Director VSAP & Principal Physiotherapist
Sarah Cruickshank was the first New Zealander to be internationally qualified as a Veterinary Physiotherapist and is a registered physiotherapist with the New Zealand Physiotherapy Board. After announcing as a 13 year old that she wanted to be an animal physiotherapist rather than pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a Vet, she determinedly worked her way towards this goal. 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 a Master of Science gaining Distinction and was awarded 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, studying both the anatomy of racing camels and the anatomy and function of the equine hind limb and she has co-authored papers on the equine hind limb.
Sarah consolidated and broadened her clinical experience in the UK, working with elite performance horses and riders as well as small animals. In the small animal field she had a strong interest in canine rehabilitation working with orthopaedic and neurological veterinary specialists. 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.
Sarah attended the 2008 Beijing Olympics as an accredited physiotherapist to an Italian event rider and her horse and regularly tutored at the Royal Veterinary College on the Master’s course in Veterinary Physiotherapy and became a clinical educator – a position she still holds and continues to provide clinical placements for students from the University of Liverpool and Hartpury College who choose to visit New Zealand as a component of their study requirements.
After her return from the UK Sarah established Vetphysio Limited in 2009, a veterinary physiotherapy and rehabilitation practice for horses, dogs and riders, and the practice has grown exponentially and the Vetphysio team now has three full time Veterinary Physiotherapists. Sarah returned to the UK for the London 2012 Olympic Games as physiotherapist once again for Vittoria Panizzon (Italy) and her horse Borough Pennyz who achieved an 11th placing at the three day eventing at Greenwich Park.
Due to increasing demand for small animal physiotherapy Vetphysio last year expanded with The Strand Veterinarian from their small boutique clinic to a much larger purpose built facility where they provide comprehensive physiotherapy services in a beautiful and healing space. Sarah loves the variety of patients she sees from working dogs such as NZ Police dogs and Guide dogs to agility dogs, pre and post surgical patients to geriatric patients who need a bit of extra special care and attention in their latter years to keep them happy, active and mobile.
Sarah is travelling with a team of NZ agility dogs and their humans to the ANKC Nationals in Adelaide in May 2016 as their physiotherapist and then to the 2016 Rio Olympics in August to attend as physiotherapist to horse and rider once more.