the Donkey Sanctuary

Message from the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon. 

Please read and engage – it doesn’t take long

Dear AAO followers

We have developed a short survey to ascertain the geographic distribution, experience and memberships of professionals working with and treating equids – specifically donkeys. We would really appreciate it if you were able to distribute it to your members (or any other equine facing professional service providers) either via email, your website, newsletters, forums or your usual channel for disseminating information to your members. We have written a short text to explain why we are distributing a survey which can accompany the link below:

The Donkey Sanctuary have recently started an ambitious 5 year project to look at all aspects of donkey ownership in the UK and Ireland. One element of the project is to ensure access to professional support and advice so that donkeys will be kept in stable, long term homes with good health and welfare. We need to gather some baseline data to help inform the project. We would like to understand the geographic distribution of professional service providers, and the training and/or experience they have working with donkeys. The advice that your industry can give to owners on the specific needs of the donkey is vital and therefore we would appreciate your help in collecting data for this survey.

We have kept the survey very brief – it should take approximately two minutes to complete. We would appreciate it if you would fill out the survey and forward the survey to any other equine industry professional service providers that you have contact with and who work in the UK and Republic of Ireland. We greatly value your input in this process and would like to thank you for filling out the survey. Please click on this link to access the survey:

Kind regards and thankyou in advance,

Tamlin Watson

Senior Researcher (Global)

Research and Operational Support


The Donkey Sanctuary| Sidmouth | Devon | EX10 0NU

Talk to ramp

Calling all UK-based animal osteopaths

On the 10th January at 19:00hrs those of you who live and work in the UK, have an opportunity to meet with members of the RAMP Council. To ask questions and to learn more about the organisation. RAMP has worked tirelessly for almost a decade for the regulation of physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors who work with animals. To raise the educational bar and encourage best practice for the sake of the animals we treat and their owners. The Register has also become a go-to place for vets and owners to seek qualified practitioners who fulfil RAMP criteria. A link to the event can be found on our Facebook group

Insurance Concerns

Don't get caught - beware online only courses

Whilst all practitioners have benefited from the use of online courses for CPD and enhanced learning, it is important to realise that some insurance companies will not cover you for practical techniques that have no (or minimal) live components to develop and assess your learning. Most practitioners would understand this, but there is an increasing number of practitioners trying to take shortcuts to training and this has become a real concern to those of us who know only too well that you cannot learn osteopathic assessment and technique online. 

Blended learning (which teaches theory online and practicals face-to-face) can certainly allow for greater flexibility and is a really excellent way of learning if you are an international student. But courses that are taught solely online – or with minimal hands-on (face-to-face) practical should be approached with caution and carefully evaluated. 

If you are looking to study animal osteopathy as a new career, AAO would recommend that you look carefully at the prerequisites, the indicative content, the methods of teaching that are used, and the support mechanisms the school has in place. 

Check that the provider offers you live support, solid theoretical knowledge and face-to-face practical classes with your peers, so you can learn from each other and your lecturers. There should be proper practical assessments (in person), so you can be sure that whatever you have been taught and assessed to do on animals is safe and correct, and there should be some case-based learning to contextualise your knowledge, supported by written exams to evaluate your progress. Without a robust education in animal osteopathy, not only may you struggle to get insurance, you may also be at risk of hurting an animal. 

Unless you are already highly experienced practitioner, merely seeking to enhance your knowledge base, please be careful of the courses you choose and be sure to contact your insurance companies in advance, if you are learning new techniques which do not fall under your current scope of practice. 

News from New Zealand

By Sarah Wisson

It has been just over a year, since NZ came out of the 6-week “lockdown” due to COVID 19. In that period, no one was working except the emergency services, medical & veterinary emergency staff Supermarkets were functioning, but that was about it. It was an unusual time for us all.

For many of us in our profession, we were able to do some work by tele-health, and it was amazing to see what one could achieve through a simple video call; such as asking clients to perform examinations & treatments on their own animals to assist recovery. Unfortunately however, under such circumstances, some animals were seen too late, rendering recovery impossible. In these cases, lives were sadly lost. Other cases resulted in prolong recovery, which has resulted in permanent issues for those animals and their owners.

Since returning to work, post-lockdown, (which has been just over a year), we have seen a lot of changes. People have brought puppies and horses, because of the lack of travel. They’ve had more time at home, making a long-term desire to have an animal around, a reality. This has caused an increase in demand, and prices to escalate.

In my professional career, I’ve never seen so many young dogs in the community, often owned by ill-prepared owners. Whether it’s down to a lack of education, or too much enthusiasm, the result is the same. Over worked animals that are suffering as a result. Over working young dogs as all therapists should know, puts intense strain on the animal’s joints, muscles and connective tissue. All of which are still growing. They simply lack the skeletal maturity for what the owner wants to do, so education becomes essential.

The same situation arises in horses. People buy a new horse and expects miracles. They forgets to build a relationship, work with the horse on the groundwork, allow the horse time to adapt to their new surroundings and be taught gently and kindly how to understand their new owner’s demands. The result? Lameness and injury.

As practitioners we must strive to educate our clients and the wider public audience (who are potential buyers of these animals). We need to encourage people to learn more about their animals, so that they can care appropriately for them and do what is right. Too often, owners buy what they can afford (especially in the case of a horse), and then grow increasingly frustrated when the horse can’t do what they want. This creates a vicious cycle that rarely ends well, and the same can happy with young puppies, who will pull on a lead repeatedly or chew new shoes, because they know no better.

Owning an animal is a responsibility and an honour, and it is our job, as animal osteopaths to educate our communities. Doing so, could save a lot of pain and sadness in the long-term. For the owner and the animal.

With an increase of animals in the community, we have also seen an increase the number of people wanting to work and treat animals. In NZ there is no registered body, or animal course that is recognized or accepted by any accrediting body. We have seen a few students in the osteopathic course at ARA in Christchurch NZ undertake studies with Animal International Osteopathy and the AAO is currently building a greater presence, so that it can support NZ practitioners. This is a welcomed situation, as all new practitioners, need to have an Association to reach out to for advice and support.

If you are a new practitioner in New Zealand, please reach out to AAO today. Our aim is to provide standards and guidelines for all who treat animals functionally/osteopathically, so please reach out if you need support.

Calling for observation opportunities

Message from the Osteopathic Alliance and iO

This article is relevant to UK-based osteopaths

As we cautiously move to more normalised activities, we are receiving increasing requests about observational practice visits. In response, the Osteopathic Alliance (OA) and the iO are collaborating to encourage osteopaths who are willing to open for observations to add their details to the iO Mentoring platform which has been expanded to facilitate these opportunities.  

Nadine Hobson, Chair of the OA, the coalition of osteopathic post-registration colleges, said of the initiative: “Having incorporated observational practice visits into our courses and teaching clinics for a long time, the OA understand the value these bring to osteopathic development. There is a long history within the profession of experienced practitioners providing an opportunity to those that wish to shadow and observe the realities of working in private practice, whilst gaining further insights into Osteopathic thinking and clinical reasoning processes in patient care and partnership.“We would like to encourage principals to re-introduce this practice and support the new generation of osteopaths now graduating. It is a simple process, just complete an online form and you will be matched with suitable observers.”

The iO has always held the view that osteopaths can only benefit from working and sharing with other osteopaths. Matthew Rogers, Head of Professional Development at the iO expands: “It is common practice amongst healthcare professions that peer or student observations take place. Indeed, for many, it is considered an integral part of the CPD and professional development process. For practitioners being shadowed, it provides an opportunity to support recruitment, extend professional networks and engage with other practitioners to mutually share knowledge for the benefit of patient care.”

As we cautiously move to a situation where more normalised activities resume, we are receiving increasing requests from practitioners on how they can resume observations safely.  To provide assurances to clinic principals and practitioners who would like to provide these valuable opportunities, we have developed a guide ‘Best practice for observations/shadowing in private practice’. The guide clearly outlines the expectations and protocols that are expected of observers, as well as those being shadowed.  So why not add your name as one of the practitioners open for observations, share your knowledge, and provide a valuable experience to the upcoming generation of osteopaths.

DOWNLOAD: Best Practice for observations/shadowing in private practice.

Sign up HERE to add your name as ‘open for observations’.

Prince Philip 1921 – 2021

”It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

Prince Philip was an honorary member of the Jockey Club since 1947, around the same time he became a naturalised British subject and married [the then] Princess Elizabeth. He was made a prince ten years later.

He saw active service in the Royal Navy throughout World War II, and was a qualified pilot, flying almost 6,000 hours in 59 types of aircraft. It was whilst he was stationed in Malta from 1949 to 1951 that HRH took up polo, which he played until 1971.

When arthritis and age forced him to quit, he took up carriage driving, a sport he continued to take part in into his 90s.

“I started driving because I’d been playing polo and I decided I would give up polo when I was 50. And I was looking around to see what next and what there was available. And I suddenly thought we’ve got horses and carriages so why don’t I have a go?”

But he wasn’t satisfied with just ‘having a go’.

Opening wereldkampioenschappen vierspannen op Het Loo ; Prins Phillip (Engeland) in aktie met vierspan *11 augustus 1982 – image by Hans van Dijk / Anefo created 1982

The early rule book was drafted under his supervision, and he was instrumental in getting the carriage driving three-day event included in the Windsor Show in the 1970s.

Photography led him to bird watching, which, in turn [eventually], led to the founding of the WWF in 1961, of which he was president from 1981 to 1996.

He was involved in many conservation efforts throughout his lifetime, from establishing an alliance between religious leaders and conservationists, to travelling across the Southern Pacific Ocean and Antarctica to identify native seabirds. For much of his married life, he took a close interest in the management of The Queen’s Private Estates, Sandringham and Balmoral, as well as Windsor Great and Home Parks. Because of this, over five thousand trees and several miles of hedges are planted at Sandringham each year, ten wetland areas have been created, and sympathetic farming practices encourage many different species of wildlife.

Among unusual official presents received by Prince Philip were two pygmy hippopotamuses given by President Tubman of Liberia following his state visit to England in 1961.

He became a Knight of the Order of the Elephant in Denmark, and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

On this sad occasion, the AAO offer our sincere condolences to his widow, Her Majesty The Queen.

News about Vet Fest 2021

Vet Fest postponed until 2022

Message from Vet Fest Team 

VET Festival 2021, due to be held at Loseley Park in Surrey on 4-5 June, will sadly not be going ahead.
We pride ourselves on delivering the best CPD event for the veterinary industry. Sadly, the Government roadmap timings have had an impact on co-ordinating and re-booking the large number of speakers in our programme. As a result, we don’t feel that we can deliver the CPD schedule at VET Festival this year in a way that retains the essence of the event or of the quality that you have become accustomed to.
We understand lots of you were holding out hope last year and chose to defer your tickets to this year. We very much hope that you will join us in 2022, so we will once again offer the option to defer your tickets to next year. Alternatively, you will be eligible for a refund.
Ticket holders will receive an email from our ticketing partner SEE Tickets in the next 7 days explaining your ticket options. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to message us or send an email to us at
Love Team Vet Fest

Public consultation – RAMP message

Update from RAMP



As you are all aware the RCVS and DEFRA have been looking at the Veterinary Services legislation and regulation of all practitioners ‘treating’ animals.
RAMP surveyed its registrants before Christmas about their thoughts around RAMP entering discussions with RCVS about them acting as our regulator and a huge number of comments and concerns were expressed. The result was however 66% in favour of us at least participating in discussions.
The RCVS is conducting a consultation regarding the possibility of incorporating allied professionals under one act. The consultation is now open and RAMP has responded as an organisation however there is also an opportunity for you to give your thoughts as individual practitioners. Like the RCVS, RAMP Council would like you to give a full and honest opinion about these proposals and how they would impact your practice, for better or for worse.
RAMP council has offered below some advice and a summary of the questions to help you respond in your own words.
The link for the consultation is;
1.1: Statutory regulation of the vet-led team
The pros and cons for RCVS regulation were listed on our previous survey email,
Allied Professional is a term already used extensively in the human field but to create an equivalent status the practitioner would have to be autonomous within their scope of practice.
Paraprofessional is a term suggesting the practitioner is not professional in their own right and therefore not competent to take Professional responsibility
Paraprofessionals as a term does indicate we could be viewed as sub vets, which ultimately we are in the current hierarchy, although the latest clarification statement has already given us the primary practitioner role in the competition care and maintenance categories.
With regulation the AHP label MAY be attributed and would cement it in the 2 categories more clearly but may cause confusion regarding the remedial category The title AHP would not have the same equivalency as in the human field as it is still ultimately a vet led team regarding the remedial care category.
Having considered these points please answer using your own words the following;
1. If statutory regulation is offered to MSK practitioners, as allied professionals, by
RCVS what would your thoughts/feelings be?
2. How do you see your skill set in relation to a vet nurse and a et in level and scope?
1:2 Flexible Delegation Powers
This will depend on the Scope of Practice developed for each Professional. If the Allied professional is a specialist in a particular set of skills, then the AP should have autonomy to carry out that task or set of skills. In that case regulation needs to be sufficient and supervision not necessary. If standards are lowered to allow paraprofessionals (those would work alongside professional) that require supervision in particular tasks then then Regulation and supervision are required which could inhibit the development of professional standards and scopes of practice in the Allied Professions. It is also possible that the Veterinary Surgeon may not be the professional to supervise the paraprofessional in
specialist tasks that would be best supervised by Allied professionals in the specific speciality.
1. Would you want a mechanism for Regulation and definition of Scope of Practice of Allied Professionals set up to allow adding of new specialities/professions as they develop?
2. Where is the scope for MSK practitioners to clinically reason? The RCVS and individual vets cannot know all the areas in which we work and this could stifle any development and innovation?
3. Which elements for scope of practice for RAMP registrants are most important and vital to retain?
1.3: Separating employment and delegation
This is based round giving VN’s more scope of practice and aiming to make them similar to district nurses in human practice. For bandaging and nursing care this might work but there is a possibility that they could take on rehabilitation work outside the vet practice which they have little skill in doing. Within corporate small animal practices it is now commonplace for VNs to do rehabilitation.
1. Can this be achieved to ensure Scope of Practice is defined and it is not seen as a way in the back door for VN’s to take on the MSK Practitioner roll with minimal training? This could help support and increase MSK’s ability to work with greater veterinary referral and delegation in remedial situations and may create further jobs/increase animal welfare.
2. Is this, in theory, a good thing?
1.4: Statutory protection for professional titles
Protection of titles is appealing but not if it is at the expense of de- skilling the professions. The caveat would be that there is no reduction in our own scope of practice, skill set, standards of practice etc.
1. How important to you is a protected title?
2. What title would you think is appropriate and that you might want?
3. What, if anything, is worth sacrificing for this?
The RAMP Team