Who are we?

Marina Rivas and Sophie Allain, two Brighton residents who moved over from France in September 2010 to study and develop our skills in osteopathy for animals, something we are both incredibly passionate about.

It was our love for animals that motivated us to move over to England to further study our chosen field of animal health care, osteopathy. Our chosen school was the ESAO (European School of Animal Osteopathy), based just next to Old Steine in Brighton, and from which we graduated in 2015 after a 5 year course.

We’re both fully qualified Manual therapists, we mainly work with horses and dogs, but can also work with a variety of other animals.

The last year of our studies was focused on gaining a lot of experience from working with animals and owners for free. Additionally we both had to write a full dissertation before taking our final exams.

The topic of Marina’s dissertation was “Osteopathic analysis of EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome)” and Sophie’s was “Osteopathic approach to training and racing of greyhounds”.

Below are copies of our certificates of qualification in Animal Osteopathy, awarded to us by the ESAO

We are also members of the IAAT (International Association of Animal Therapists).

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a holistic natural medicine, and is based on anatomy and physiology, with the aim of restoring full body function by treating the cause of pain and imbalance via manipulation of the body.

It relies on the quality of the practitioner’s palpation and manipulation techniques to work with the position, mobility and qualities of all bodily tissues.

Our aim is to allow the body to recover itself by restoring mobility and normal function to all parts.

Andrew Taylor Still developed the osteopathic concept in the 19th century. He was firstly a doctor following the orthodox medical practice. After losing three of his children and his wife from meningitis, he came to realise that the medicine he always knew could be ineffective. He spent the rest of his life studying anatomy and movement to create a new way of treating without “drugs”. He ended up creating the osteopathic concept/philosophy which he decided should always follow these tenets to be efficient:

Body unit

The body works as a whole, all parts are connected and work together.

Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated

The structure governs the function and the function determines the structure.

The role of the artery is supreme 

Blood brings nutrients, immune cells, hormones, and is in charge of cleansing the tissues of biochemical wastes produced by the metabolism.


The body is able to heal itself and to regulate of his metabolism.

Another important idea of osteopathy is that the body compensate itself and then the problem we see could only be secondary to another misalignment in the body. This problem can never get fixed if we don’t treat the primary dysfunction.

Following those principals we treat the whole body, including the musculo-skeletal, digestive, urinary and hormonal systems.

My dog has had a couple of treatments from sophie and marina when he has been limping or moving akwardly. Each time it had helped to restore mobility without recourse to the vet and painkillers. After initial suspicion he has enjoyed the procedure!
– Trisha, Tom’s owner

When does your animal need a session?

Osteopathy can greatly help throughout the life of your animal, assisting growth, supporting the welfare of your animal during a sportive carrier, help with the ageing process, after a regular or difficult birth, pre and post surgery, after a trauma and many other things that can occur during your animals life.

Osteopathy should be mainly preventative, and sessions with us will help to prevent issues from occurring or re-occurring in the future.

We have detailed in the below sections what common symptoms to look out for in order to determine when to contact us.

If the symptom or your animal is not listed here, or you would like additional information, please contact us and we will be able to perform and initial analysis over the phone and determine the best course of action, including referring you to the vet/dentist/farrier etc.

There are several different ways to spot problems with your horse, you are likely to notice them when observing, touching, or when riding.


  • Twitches of the skin when the pressure of touch is applied.
  • Always resting the same leg.
  • Lack of muscles or asymmetry of muscular density. The biggest differences with muscle mass can be seen on the back, neck and upper pelvic region.
  • The horse looks different on one side to the other (right/left or front/behind).

Behaviour that could be linked to physical issues

  • Fly twitch reaction or stressed/reluctant horse at the sight of the saddle or when doing up the girth.
  • The animal doesn’t like some parts of his body being touched, doesn’t want to offer up or lift his feet or they seems heavy if he does.
  • In the stables the horse can be reluctant or not able to roll or lie down.
  • Backing into the walls.
  • Being spooked for no apparent reason.

Restrictions of movement during work


  • A lot of sweating at work
  • Difficulty bending the neck, carrying the head always on the same side, harder to turn on one rein than the other.


  • Always touching the fence with one of his limbs.
  • Always landing on the same front limb.
  • Hips rotating above the jump.
  • Take off at jumping either too close or too far away.
  • Agitation during the few strides before the jump.
  • Never stays straight before the fence, always goes on one side.


  • General irregularity or stiffness in the stance.
  • Can only canter on one rein or frequently/always canters disunited.
  • Difficulties with transitions from one pace to another, extension or shortening of stride is very hard.
  • Lack of amplitude, can’t cross his front or back limbs, harder to change leg on one rein.
  • Horse that stumbles or uses a foot more on the toe or in general, wrong distribution of weight across the horse’s feet.

There are several different ways to spot problems with your dog which you will notice through observation.

In general

  • Difficulties when trying to turn the head or when opening the mouth.
  • Problems putting weight evenly/equally on all four legs, walking sideways, having a “bunny canter”.
  • Obvious pain during a specific situation or movement.
  • Impossible to touch the animal on certain areas.
  • The walks seem more tiring than usual.
  • Weakness of the back legs.
  • Difficulties jumping up into your car or onto the sofa.
  • The dog doesn’t sit straight, the pelvis seems rotated
  • Animal appears unusually grumpy.

For working dogs

  • In Agility – a loss of performance, the jumps don’t seem as smooth, requiring bigger curves to turn around.
  • In Flyball – slower during the slalom, the back doesn’t bend as much as before. Difficulty getting the ball.
  • In Showing – inability to hold a square stance, head carried too low or too high.
  • You can see a change in your dog’s body and behaviour in many other sports or work.
Think you might need a session?
Click to contact us

My Mala dog just had another wonderful treatment from the truly wonderful Marina and Sophie. She is now lying blissed out on her bed. After several treatments she is a very happy dog, her previous ankle injury hasn’t resurfaced, and she is happier and calmer and always so thrilled to see Sophie and Marina who treat her with such gentle calm assurance and skill. THANKS A MILLION to them.
– Liz, Mala’s owner

What happens during a session

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    Vets Referral

    When you book an appointment we will always ask you for your vet’s details in order to get their permission before we do a session. This also allows us to get more information about the medical history of your animal.

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    At your home/stables

    We will come where your animal lives, this way the session happens in an environment where your animal feels safe. This also allows us to get more information about the environment in which your animal lives.

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    Case history

    We need to know every information about your animal. We will ask you a few questions about your animal’s past, habits, food, training, possible traumas, surgeries, illnesses, bad behaviour, etc…every detail is important. This will give us an idea on the general lifestyle of the animal. While we are doing this, your animal will probably get used to our presence.

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    It is our first contact with the animal. We scan the whole body with our hands researching for any abnormalities in the quality of the tissues (difference of temperature, tension in muscles, …). The palpation is not just limited to the musculo-skeletal system, we also listen to the digestive system and the cranio-sacral axis. We rely on the quality of our palpation, anything that will catch our hand will be a clue for the treatment.

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    Gait analysis / dynamic observation

    We will observe your animal in movement, the way he/she moves. We look for any unbalanced movement, lack of movement of a body part, shortened stride, unlevelled pelvis, no flexion of the fetlock … This gives us more clues about the areas we will work on.

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    After we’ll have observed you animal moving we will have all the indication of what joints could have mobility restrictions. The next step is to test those joints that have retained our attention with the palpation and the dynamic observation. We will mobilize those joints and see if they have restricted mobility and in which direction.

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    At this point of the session, we have now established a logical diagnosis, and we know which dysfunctions are primary or secondary and we know in what order we’re going to treat the different affected areas.

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    Treatment / Manipulations

    The treatment can now take place. We use a variety of different techniques who can be applied to every tissue of the body (muscles, joints, organs of the digestive system, fascias, ligaments…) We work on all the systems of the body ( musculo-skeletal, digestive, cranio-sacral…), we also use high velocity thrusts, stretching and fascial techniques, massages… The techniques used will depend on what the animal needs. The aims is to restore mobility and normal function of the body, allowing it to use its self-healing potential.

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    Rehabilitation / Advice

    The body will rebalance itself after the treatment and it’s important for us to tell you how to help your animal for a full and quicker recovery. We can give you some exercises to do for example. In some cases, the animal will need to redevelop a normal muscular mass and it will depend on you after the treatment to make him follow the correct path to full recovery. We can also advise some rest, some nutrition or routine changes… Sometimes if the dysfunctions are old, we might need to see your animal for another session to fulfil the treatment.

Think you might need a session?
Click to contact us

As a small local riding school with 14 horses we know we can rely on our team of Manual Therapists Sophie and Marina. Our lovely boys Geography and Bobby both have issues with their legs, a previous tendon injury and stiffness, and both of them have improved greatly from Sophie’s & Marina’s visits. Thank you so so much girls! Looking forward to seeing you again & again.
– Hamsey Riding School

Frequently asked questions

We have selected some additional questions commonly brought up by our clients relating to the treatment we provide, hover over or tap each question to view the answer.

Where does it take place?

For your pets we will come to your house as we believe any animal will feel more comfortable and secure at home.
For horses and big animals, it will take place where the animal lives. Being in the animal’s environment also gives us more information about their lifestyle.

How long does it take?

The whole session takes about 45 minutes for a dog and an hour for a horse. The first session is usually a bit longer as we need to take the whole case history.
To us it is not about time, but about giving a full treatment so the sessions can vary in length depending on the case.

When should you call?

For an animal that doesn’t do any specific sport it should be once or twice a year and after any injury. For sportive animals it depends on the competition season, the amount of exercise, the level and many other parameters. We usually recommend a visit before, during and after the season.
A follow-up session can be necessary in some cases, for example: an old animal that has never been treated with manual therapy.

How much is it?

We charge a fixed fee per session, per animal.

Horse - £60
Dog - £40
Cat - £30
Other species - Please call or email us to discuss

How far can we travel?

We are happy to travel for free to any treatment within an hours drive from Brighton.
For longer distance we would have to add a petrol surcharge.

Is it painful for the animal?

Absolutely not, osteopathy is a pain free treatment and most dogs end up sleeping straight after or even during the treatment!

Contact us

Visit our contact page to get in touch directly via contact form or to view our email address & additional contact details.