Meet Dr. Shields


My love of horses started as a kid growing up in Virginia riding for fun and then competitively in the hunter jumper world. Injury after injury my coach got me back on the horse to continue until we got it right. How many injuries did we sustain? I lost track counting. However, as we became rising stars in the ring these injuries not only affected me but also the horse’s performance which we never seemed to recover from. Everyone blamed this inability to continue to perform in the ring on the horse and on my lack of “focus.” This discouraging judgement caused me to wonder far from my dream of riding horses.

It was my good fortune that I returned to the horse world in 2015 when my husband and I bought a horse farm. My journey of natural horsemanship began then, not really knowing what I was doing, even though I had ridden horses for 20 years! It just felt right. After six months of owning the farm, I bought MY horse and found a “free” horse, with lameness issues, as a stablemate.

I stumbled around for a while taking lessons, looking for answers, until I realized I WAS THE PROBLEM! I know this sounds crazy – but hear me out. My old injuries were causing similar issues with my new horse. My trainer could ride my mare with little issue. When I got on my horse, she struggled with tripping, shoulder falling in on the turns, and many other things I could remember having trouble with while riding my last horse.

The winter of 2016 I went off to a national physical therapy conference as a successful physical therapist. My work was at a large urban Level 1 Trauma teaching hospital where I have specialized in the cardiac and critical care population. I now showed up to this conference thinking about which sessions I might take to continue my PT education. That was until I read the first day’s line-up: “Olympic Equestrian Show Jumping: Physical Therapy Assessment, Conditioning, and Rehabilitation of Horse and Rider,” presented by Sharon Classon, PT and Mark Revenaugh, DVM. I was hooked!

As I walked into the large lecture hall, it hit me…I was in the right place! Waiting for the lecture to start they began to project Grand Prix Show Jumping pictures while playing the instrumental version of “Eye of the Tiger.” Yep, pretty corny, but all the emotion and passion for my dream of riding horses flooded back to me, stronger than ever. As I heard the lecture, I was completely intrigued when I began to realize how it might be my own injuries effecting my horse.

It was on that day that I “broke bad.” I wandered off from my familiar friends and colleagues. That day I began my adventure of becoming a physical therapist skilled in the assessment and rehabilitation treatments of the horse, the human, and the equestrian team. Because of my newfound love, in December 2017, I became a Certified Equine Rehabilitation Practitioner through the University of Tennessee. I am knowledgeable in common equine disorders and surgical procedures amenable to rehabilitation that a physical therapist can provide.

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