TRAINER Philip Rothwell (no relation) has enjoyed an incredible run of success over the last year or so.

As an Equine Therapist attached to the yard, it has been a phenomenal experience to be involved. I take great pride helping to enable racehorses overcome physical issues, which may otherwise have hindered their ability to perform to their true potential.

Seeing such horses go on to achieve success on the track is one of the most satisfying aspects of my work.

I grew up in Annaharvey Farm in Tullamore, where my family had a beef and tillage enterprise.

Historically, there was always a work horse on the farm and as kids, we started off on a Connemara pony called Joan.

Our house was located across the field from a riding school, so from the age of four or five, we would go across every Saturday for lessons. I did a lot of show jumping in those early years, as well as being a part of the Offaly Pony Club.

The Tullamore Show was a huge annual event in our locality, something we looked forward to for months in advance. I also did hunter trials, as well as hunting with the Streamstown Harriers alongside the late Joe Scally.


Younger members of the Lacey family, who stood Accordion at Ballycrystal Stud, often paired up with us for hunter trials. Through that same connection, my dad later ended up buying a broodmare named Top Girl.

As kids our job was to count the cattle every evening for dad. We would take whatever horse was near to hand, hack down the field (jumping a couple of fences on the way) and report back.

Before being put into training or sent to the sales, the offspring of Top Girl would often be used for such a job. Little did we know when doing so, that her first foal, Graphic Equaliser, would later go on to Grade 1 handicap success [Ladbrokes Hurdle], or that those that followed, namely Back On Top and Montana Slim would both achieve blacktype.

Being so young, we also never fully appreciated just what an influential stallion Accordion was, despite seeing him on a regular basis on our visits to see the Laceys. I suppose given this early exposure to thoroughbreds, it was only natural that I would one day make my career in the industry.

By the time I finished in secondary school, I knew that I was only ever going to work with horses. The following September, I completed by BHS exams under the watchful eye of the late Grainne Sugars.

During this time, my parents had opened a riding centre at home - Annaharvey Farm Equestrian Centre. Essentially, we offered package horse riding holidays during the summer months and hosts to Eventing Ireland competitions, hunter trials and dressage shows. After completing my exams, I came home and managed the riding centre for 10 years.

Travel away

Given that the work was quite seasonal, I worked with young horses and tried to fit in dressage lessons during my downtime. I also got to travel away some winters.

I went to Australia for a season, working for David Dobson at his show jumping yard. I spent a few months in Germany at Stall Ramsbrock, one of the leading dressage operations in that country. I moved down to Wexford in 2009, took time out away from horses, got married and started to raise my family.

During that time, I needed to figure out what I wanted to do next, as the kids weren’t going to stay young forever. Having returned to education, I found that I really enjoyed the equine therapy side of things.

As part of my studies, I was required to produce a case study based on work done at an actual racing yard. My husband owns a farm and a young lad that came to visit him also rode out for trainer Philip Rothwell.

I asked Philip if I could do my work experience at his stables and it went from there. After finishing my work experience, I asked if I could continue to go on practicing on my own time until I qualified; something that Philip agreed to. That time was invaluable!

Gastro Care

Every day is a learning day; you can’t just pick up a book and go from there. I found it really fascinating to watch the trial of the Monoshield Equine Gastro Care product at Philip’s yard. The product is an innovative leading light for gastro care in horses.

There is a known high prevalence of ulcers in racehorses. As part of the trial, the horses were scoped for ulcers prior to being put on the treatment and were re-assessed throughout the trial period. The trial data showed of 90% of the horses scoped with ulcers, the ulcers were resolved completely over a period of two-three months of being on this natural supplement.

It was eye opening to see their physical improvement parallel to the improved results of ongoing scoping. The difference in their posture, muscle tone, ability to perform and shorter recovery rates after racing has been phenomenal.


I have recently become an agent for that product, so I am very much looking forward to seeing where that journey takes me. There has been plenty of initial interest since I set up my website so hopefully that is an area I can develop further. However, the physical care of racehorses will continue to be my main job, as I derive immense satisfaction from that particular side of things. I take great interest in and have an eye for irregular or compensatory patterns in horses which, when treated early, prevents injury in the future.

I use a range of therapy solutions including manual soft tissue therapy, myofascial release, lymphatic drainage, spinal freedom, Kinesiology tape, redlight therapy and instinct to achieve great results for my customers.

Rachael Rothwell was in conversation with John O’Riordan