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Profile On: Rob Willis, Equine Osteopath

Whilst working at the local racetrack I was able to meet Rob and hold horses for him whilst he worked on those who were in need of his skills.  This Veterinary trained horse enthusiast has kindly taken the time to answer questions about his profession.

Have you always been interested in horses and when did you start out in the industry? What is it exactly that you do?
I grew up on a farm just north of Albury and since a young age have always had a love of animals. I wanted to be a vet since as long as I can remember.

My first horse was an old bay pony called Mickey that I got when I was 7 years old and I lost him not long after and it wasn’t for another 23 years until I got my second horse.  I’m a bit of a late bloomer with regards to horse ownership, however the love of the animal has always been there.

Professionally I have been involved in the industry now 2 years full time and am loving it.  I’m a fully qualified Veterinarian and have also received my Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture through IVAS.

I offer a range of alternative health therapies for horses as well as mainstream therapies specialising in performance and musculoskeletal health.  I now work more like an Osteopath or Physiotherapist rather than a Vet, however the Veterinary background is a godsend for this type of work.


Rob’s Youngster ‘Sundance’ (Host ex Missy Gee) at 4 and a half months

How much of your day/week is related to horses?
Monday – Friday 8am to 6pm.  Weekends I don’t mind checking out the form guide.

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
Yes definitely. There is a huge demand for acupuncture and alternative therapies in the equine performance circles.

Being Veterinary trained for this line of work is what got my foot in the door at the major training facilities and Veterinary clinics that I work in, and the demand for my services continues to grow, which is great.

I’m seeing a growing trend of clients looking for alternative therapies and natural products too, which is fantastic that people are considering these options for their animals.

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
For me I received my Veterinary Qualification through the University of Melbourne which was 5 years of full time study.

Vet Science is offered now in a number of locations throughout Australia including:

  • Melbourne
  • Sydney
  • Perth
  • Brisbane
  • Adelaide
  • Townsville
  • Wagga, so there are a number of options for people

The IVAS acupuncture qualification is then a further 18 months of training on top of the Veterinary degree and is an internationally recognised Veterinary Acupuncture qualification that has a huge Chinese Medicine component to it.

I also have a friend who is a Vet who has just completed her qualification in Equine Bowen Therapy (EMRT). There are a number of course options for differing treatment possibilities for alternative therapies.

Favourite horse memory?
Ok this one would have to be two that I can’t split:

  • My first equal favourite memory was Northerly winning his first Cox Plate in 2001. He was a fighter and showed huge determination and character to win his races. To this day he is my favourite racehorse and his career was the start of a love affair with both thoroughbred racing and Cox Plate day.
  • My second equal favourite horse memory was the birth of the first foal I’ve bred. A beautiful bay thoroughbred filly by Host out of a Commands mare I purchased 18 months ago. She is now 4 months of age and looking bigger and better by the day.

Future goals?
My aims are pretty simple really. To further my knowledge and treatment outcomes for my patients and to help educate others as to the benefits of the likes of Acupuncture, Veterinary homotoxicology, Manipulations and Neutraceuticals.

I’d love to be able to get more Vets into this line of work and help educate the Veterinary profession as to the benefits and applications of the therapies I utilise. There is a huge deficit in Veterinary training and knowledge with regards to therapies such as Acupuncture. And the amount of good you can do with these therapies in a non invasive way is incredible.

I’m also looking at putting on extra staff as we speak and would hope to employ and train another Veterinarian for this line of work. It would be great to have a fully functioning Equine Alternative Therapies practice with multiple staff in years to come.


Rob with Zed

Best thing about your sport/profession?
There are a number that come to hand:

  1. Working with horses – speaks for itself, they’re a pretty amazing animal
  2. Variety – wide range of patients, equestrian pursuits and locations
  3. Opportunity – A major growing area of interest and demand within the equine profession
  4. Flexibility – work hours, travel, lifestyle. Being a ‘non emergency’ form of Veterinary work I have great flexibility with my work life. Some of the things that made routine Veterinary life hard such as emergency after hours work are now a thing of the past.
  5. Social – I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great people along the way and some of my closest friends now are also clients of mine. Not to mention my amazing girlfriend who I met after treating her 35 year old pony some 18 months ago.

There is a huge upside to this line of work!

“You know you’re a horse person when you see the vet more than your child’s pediatrician.” – Author unknown

One Response to “Profile On: Rob Willis, Equine Osteopath”

  • Booties:

    I have recently met Rob and had him treating one of my horses. Lovely guy and is really nice with the horses!! Looking forward to him treating my two old dogs with acupuncture to see if we can make them more comfortable in their final years.

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