Equestrienne: Danielle Shugard, Physical Therapist for Equestrians
What is your experience with horses?
I started riding when I was eight and spent most of my teenage years riding in the hunter jumper world and volunteering at a therapeutic riding center. I took a small horse break to go to Northeastern University in Boston, to get my doctorate degree in physical therapy. I then returned to Monmouth County, working in a traditional PT setting and riding in my spare time. After having my two girls and my spare time going to zero, I wanted to combine physical therapy and horses. The pandemic shutdown in March 2020 gave me time to focus on what I wanted my business to look like. Now, I own my company where I travel to barns and work with riders in and out of the saddle, addressing pain, and working on alignment and body mechanics!
What is your business name?
DCS Physical Therapy, which I began in 2020.
Why did you begin your business or pursue your passion?
I wanted to combine Physical Therapy and my love for horses, helping people in and out of the saddle seemed like a great way to do that.
What is unique about you or your brand?
I am one of the few Physical Therapists in New Jersey that specializes in horseback riders. I also travel to riders’ barns and seen them in the saddle and work on things on the ground.
How does your brand or business positively affect other equestrians or horse welfare?
When riders move better out horses move better, allowing for clearer aids and communication.
What challenges have you faced in life or business?
Mom of two girls (2 and 4) and the pandemic of 2020. Need I say more?
What keeps you motivated or inspired?
Helping people feel better, watching horses move better, my family.
Who has influenced you and why?
Andy Thomas, a lot of British physiotherapists on social media, since they seem to have practices that focus on horseback riders.
How could your story benefit others?
Riders who have pain or trouble balancing could benefit from seeing me.
Anyone who wants to start a small business while being a mom could benefit from hearing my story.
What advice would you give to someone starting on a new adventure or business? What advice would you give?
Give yourself time to find your stride, make sure you have a clear idea of what you want your ideal clients to be.
Are you working on anything currently?
A book “Body Conditioning for the Horse and Rider”, which I just published with colleagues. Also, I am creating custom resistance bands created to help with rider’s upper bodies and connection to their horse’s mouth.