Equine Physiotherapy Diploma Programme

The Open College of Equine Studies is now accepting applications for the Equine Physiotherapy Diploma Programme for entry in September 2018.

Application deadline – 28th June 2018

The programme will be delivered to incorporate study at Higher Education Levels 4, 5 and 6.

Completion of the programme will meet the needs of learners aiming to work in the field of equine physiotherapy, providing the skills set needed to work as an equine healthcare paraprofessional and carry out non-invasive therapeutic techniques.

The programme provides the basis for additional specialist training within specific modalities.

Aims of the programme:

  • To instil an understanding of the ethical and legal principles applicable to the application of equine therapy
  • To equip learners with the skills and knowledge required to:
    • administer first aid to horses following injury
    • maintain or restore health and soundness in the horse
    • enable them to plan and implement optimum rehabilitation programmes
  • To promote effective communication and liaison with owners, veterinary surgeons and other professionals when planning and implementing treatment and rehabilitation programmes for equine patients
  • To develop the academic and professional skills that will allow learners to identify further specialist training needs and areas for professional development
  • To encourage learners to explore and evaluate the scientific evidence and recent developments relating to the use of a range of therapeutic modalities in treatment and rehabilitation programmes

Full course support

Learn while you earn

This specialist programme is currently classified as customised provision and is quality assured and approved by Pearson Assured. The certificate you receive will be a Pearson Assured Certificate.

Courses that are classified as customised provision are not on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) or regulated by Ofqual.

The Open College of Equine Studies (TOCES) has been accepted as a Recognised Educational Provider (REP) by the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners (RAMP). This means that learners can be assured that TOCES has been verified as an institute that can be trusted to provide professional education in the field.

Course overview:

Download the following documents here:

Completion of the qualification will meet the needs of learners aiming to work in the field of equine physiotherapy, providing the skills set needed to work as an equine healthcare paraprofessional and carry out non-invasive therapeutic techniques. The programme provides the basis for additional specialist training within specific modalities.

Following veterinary assessment, certain health conditions require physiotherapy, and the veterinary surgeon may refer the horse for further treatment to be administered by a suitably qualified therapist.   This programme will enable learners to study the static and dynamic structure of the horse and the link between structure, movement, soundness and performance.

Learners will develop an understanding of the merits, modalities and application of a range of physical therapies and rehabilitation strategies used to restore and maintain mobility, function and performance in the horse.  It is designed to develop skills of independent enquiry and an awareness of developments in equine therapies, broadening the learner’s perspective on the treatment of equine disease and injury.

Learners will study the legal framework applicable to veterinary professionals and paraprofessionals ensuring a full comprehension of the legal, professional and ethical responsibilities incumbent on the equine health practitioner.

Learners will investigate the range of manual therapies and therapeutic machines, appraising their benefits and mode of use.  Upon completion of this programme learners will have encountered concepts that encompass all aspects of equine therapy from simple massage techniques to the use of sophisticated machines and equipment, and will be equipped to progress into this emerging field as an educated equine therapeutic practitioner.

The programme will be delivered via blended learning using a combination of printed materials, e-learning, live and pre-recorded online lectures and webinars.  1005 hours of practical work will be undertaken via study weeks, internships at TOCES, occupational experience shadowing practitioners, externships (independent work) and placements at equine welfare centres over the course of the programme.

Course modules:
Level 4 Level 5

Level 6

  • Study Skills in Higher Education
  • Equine Anatomy and Physiology
  • Equine Health Management
  • Equine Veterinary Management
  • The Legal, Professional and Ethical Framework
  • Thermal, Magnetic and Electro Therapies
  • Applied Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation 1
  • Equine Biomechanics
  • Equine Orthopaedics and Neurophysiology
  • Manual Therapies
  • Exercise and Movement Therapy
  • Applied Equine Therapy and Rehabilitation 2
  • Research Methods
  • Applied Equine Physiotherapy
  • Dissertation (Physiotherapy Investigative Project)

As part of the quality assurance process, the syllabus is under professional review and may be subject to slight modifications.

The Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners (RAMP):

The Open College of Equine Studies (TOCES) has been accepted as a Recognised Educational Provider (REP) by the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners (RAMP). This means that learners can be assured that TOCES has been verified as an institute that can be trusted to provide professional education in the field.


Whilst REP status doesn’t confer automatic access to the Register, it provides an assurance that the education and training undertaken with TOCES will be positively considered and allowed as part of a full application. Each application for admission onto the Register is reviewed on a case by case basis through the RAMP’s standard or Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)/Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) application process.


September 2018 cohort course fees

Study Period Fee
Year 1 £4,725
Year 2 £4,725
Year 3 £4,725
Year 4 £4,725
Year 5 £2,100


The above fees include all study weeks, internships, assessments and examinations.  Accommodation during study weeks and internships is not included.

There is the option of spreading the cost using the finance options available. Please refer to the Finance tab below for further information.


If you are paying for your course privately and wish to spread the cost of your course fees you may apply for our finance options offered by our finance partners, Omni Capital*. Please indicate on your enrolment form if you wish to apply for finance.

  • Applicants must be 18 or over and have been a permanent UK resident for the last 3 years.
  • Please note that we are currently unable to offer finance options if payment of course fees is to be made through a business.
  • *Omni Capital is a responsible lender and as such will take great care to ensure applicants only take on a commitment that they can afford and for which they are financially suited.

Step 1: You will receive a link to apply to Omni Capital once we have received the completed enrolment forms.

Step 2: The application process is quick and simple. Omni Capital is usually able to validate the identification of an applicant without the requirement for additional identification. There may be some situations where further documentation is required; this can be provided online and there is no requirement for paper documentation.

You will be taken through a simple application form and guided clearly through the pre-contract explanation before digitally signing the application with ‘eSignature’. Once submitted a decision is returned within 10 seconds.

Step 3: As soon as your application is approved, TOCES will contact you via email to arrange payment of the deposit (initial payment). This can be made via credit/debit card or via bank transfer.

Study Period and Level 10% Deposit 12 Monthly Instalments Total interest included over 12 months at APR 9.9%
Year 1 (Level 4) £472.50 £372.78 £220.86
Year 2 (Level 4 & 5) £472.50 £372.78 £220.86
Year 3 (Level 5) £472.50 £372.78 £220.86
Year 4 (Level 5 & 6) £472.50 £372.78 £220.86
Year 5 (Level 6) £210.00 £165.70 £98.40

Total Payable:




The above figures are examples of finance arrangements available and can be adjusted to suit your individual circumstances. Please note that deposits payable must equal a minimum of 10% of the course fee for the study period.


Omni Capital pre-finance contract information
Sample Omni Capital credit agreement
Use of the title "Physiotherapist":

There is often confusion about:

  • The correct and permitted use of the title “Physiotherapist” and the word “Chartered”.
  • Who is allowed to perform physiotherapy and under what circumstances

In the human field, the title “Physiotherapist” is protected by the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).   The HCPC states that prefixes such as “Animal”, “Equine” or “Veterinary” clearly indicates that the person concerned does not treat humans and that there is no intention to deceive.

The use of the term “Physiotherapist” in this context causes discussion in some professional quarters as it is possible for someone to operate as an ‘equine physiotherapist’, ‘animal physiotherapist’ and/or ‘veterinary physiotherapist’, regardless of the quality, or quantity, of training they have undertaken.

The term ‘Chartered’ relates to the field of human physiotherapy; there isn’t a charter relating to animal, equine or veterinary physiotherapy.  There is no legal requirement to train as a human physiotherapist in order to work as an animal physiotherapist.   Chartered physiotherapists are registered but only in their capacity as a human physiotherapist – not as an animal physiotherapist.

With regard to who is allowed to perform physiotherapy and under what circumstances, the Veterinary Surgery exemption order (1962) allows for the treatment of animals by “physiotherapy”, provided that the animal has first been seen by a veterinary surgeon who has diagnosed the condition and decided that it should be treated by physiotherapy under his or her direction.

Physiotherapy is interpreted as including a range of manipulative therapies including osteopathy and chiropractic but not including acupuncture or aromatherapy.  Physiotherapy includes the use of specially designed exercises and equipment to promote, maintain and restore physical health and abilities.

There is a high level of interest in equine therapies and a peruse of the internet reveals many courses and training programmes available in the UK, from a relatively basic standard through to Masters level, enabling learners to train and qualify in a wide range of therapeutic modalities and, once qualified, many go on to offer therapy and rehabilitation as a professional service.  Many of the high quality under-graduate programmes are run as full-time programmes; this mode of study isn’t always convenient or possible for the intended student profile of TOCES’ Equine Physiotherapy Diploma Programme.

TOCES takes a positive approach to professionalism and training relating to the field of equine physiotherapy.

Graduates of the Equine Physiotherapy Diploma Programme will be required to sign a declaration agreeing to:

  • work as part of a wider multi-professional team with due regard for the restrictions that apply under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966
  • practice to the extent that they have established, maintained and developed their ability to work safely and competently
  • ensure that they have appropriate professional liability insurance cover for that practice
  • undertake career-long learning, continuing professional education (CPD) and development to maintain fitness to practise.

Further guidance is provided on the RCVS website:  http://www.rcvs.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/code-of-professional-conduct-for-veterinary-surgeons/supporting-guidance/treatment-of-animals-by-unqualified-persons/

We recommend that applicants contact a specialist insurance broker for advice regarding appropriate insurance.

The Equine Physiotherapy Diploma Programme has been designed to meet the needs of learners aiming to work in the field of equine physiotherapy with particular reference to UK laws. It is the the responsibility of any international student who wishes to study this programme to research the laws residing around practising equine physiotherapy in their own country.

Programme Accreditation and Approval Status:

Following two years of planning, this unique programme forms a bespoke training course, designed to fulfil the aims listed above.  This specialist programme is currently classified as customised provision and has been submitted for quality assurance accreditation by Lantra Awards (http://www.lantra.co.uk/awards/discover-customised-provision) and Pearson Assured (https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/pearson-assured.html)

Courses that are classified as customised provision are not on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) or regulated by Ofqual.

Throughout every aspect of the design of this course, rigorous quality standards have been the top priority, including:

  • course syllabus and content – to ensure the course is ‘fit for purpose’;
  • academic level and workload – to ensure the course is academically rigorous;
  • teaching strategy – to ensure learners will benefit from a team of highly qualified professionals in both the face to face setting, and whilst studying online;
  • practical tuition – to ensure learners are taught to the highest standards in a practical setting;
  • skills practice – to ensure learners undertake a minimum of 1000 hours of practical work;
  • assessment strategy – to ensure both practical skills and academic knowledge and understanding are assessed using a range of assessment techniques.

The course has been designed with reference to the requirements of the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners (RAMP) and the Sector Skills Council’s (Lantra) National Occupational Standards (NOS).

If, upon completion of the Equine Physiotherapy Diploma Programme you intend to progress to post-graduate study, check the exact entry requirements of the university offering the MSc you wish to apply for.

The validation/accreditation status of this programme may change in the future.


Application window for September 2018 entry now open!

Following the launch of the programme applications can be submitted during the relevant application window.  There is one cohort per annum and, due to the intensity of practical work on the programme, places will be strictly limited.

Places on the programme will be restricted and offered only to successful applicants following a comprehensive screening and interview process.

A waiting list of eligible applicants not offered a place on the 2018 cohort will be held and, subject to satisfying eligibility criteria, those on the list will be given priority for the 2019 cohort.

Academic Level:Higher Education Level 6
Number of units/modules:15
Study Hours per Unit:100-300
Total Hours: 3600
Course Duration: 4.5 years

The programme will be taught via tutor-supported e-learning and attended sessions at study weeks and internships. During study weeks lectures will combine classroom and yard based studies. The different topics of the programme will be taught and assessed by appropriately qualified staff, with a wealth of experience in their field.

Study weeks and internships are held at TOCES in Suffolk. During the study weeks and internships there will be a high level of hands-on practical work. You are responsible for arranging, and paying for, your accommodation during study weeks and internships.

Practical work will also be undertaken via occupational experience shadowing practitioners, externships (independent work) and placements at equine welfare centres over the course of the programme.

A range of assessment methods will be used, including:

  • Essay style assignment submissions
  • Online assessments (inc MCQs)
  • Practical and oral assessment at study week
  • Invigilated written examinations at study week
  • Case studies
  • Poster presentations
  • Peer group presentations
  • Project work
  • Portfolio completion
  • Dissertation thesis
  • Viva voce

Practical Delivery

Practical Days attended during the course of the programme (18 months per programme)

Level 4

Level 5

Level 6

Study weeks - 4½ day blocks




Internships - 3½ day blocks




Externships - Individual days arranged by student


18 days

18 days

Occupational experience - Individual days jointly arranged by TOCES and student

6 days

9 days

9 days

Welfare placement - Individual days jointly arranged by TOCES and student


6 days

6 days

Please see the Study Planner for full details of dates and unit completion deadlines.

For all programmes you must be:

  • enthusiastic!
  • prepared to work hard
  • disciplined enough to set aside time to study
  • prepared to undertake independent study


  1. Applicants must be aged 18 years and over
  2. Applicants must be competent and confident handling horses with extensive equine experience. This experience may be employment based and/or gained through competition experience.
  3. Non-native English speakers or those who have not studied the final two years of school in English, must demonstrate capability in English at a standard commensurate with IELTS 5.5
  4. Applicants who have recently been in education should have at least one of the following:
  • Level 3 qualification in Horse Management or equivalent;
  • GCE AS and A level profile that demonstrates strong performance in a relevant subject or an adequate performance in more than one GCE subject. This profile is likely to be supported by GCSE grades at A* to C;
  • other related level 3 qualifications;
  • an Access to Higher Education Certificate received from an approved further education institution;
  • related work experience.
  1. Mature applicants (i.e. over 21) may present a more varied profile of achievement that is likely to include extensive work experience (paid and/or unpaid) and/or achievement of a range of professional qualifications in their work sector.

How much work is involved?
It is estimated that, including attendance at Study Weeks, each module involves an average of 150 hours study. To calculate how long a programme will take to complete multiply the number of modules by 150 and divide by the number of hours you feel you can spare each week. Although distance learning is a very flexible mode of study you must complete the course requirements before the course completion date. The more time you spend on additional research, the more likely you will be to attain high grades.

 Modules generally consist of one Formative and one Summative Work Assignment. Project work and independent research are integral to most modules.  You will receive detailed tutor feedback for each Formative Assignment. Each Summative Assignment is graded and counts towards your overall qualification. Formative Assignments do not count towards the qualification grade and in some instances are optional.

You are also required to undertake independent research and read around the subject areas to increase your depth of knowledge and demonstrate the ability to analyse, disseminate and evaluate information.  We do not specify how many hours each assignment will take – this is included within the 150 hours and is individual to each student.

How long do the courses take?
We appreciate that our students have work, family and equine commitments so do not set rigid time limits. However a maximum completion date is calculated on enrolment.

Time taken depends on:

  • How much you know already – you will find some modules easier and more interesting than others
  • Work commitments
  • Family commitments
  • Equine commitments
  • Your dedication and motivation

To maintain a steady rate of work through a programme you should allocate at least ten hours per week to your studies. If you cannot find ten hours in a week you must appreciate that it will take longer to complete the course and extra costs will be incurred after the maximum completion date if an extension is granted.

Can I work through the programmes in less time?
Due to the inclusion of study weeks which are scheduled throughout the course duration, it is not possible to obtain certification in a shorter time frame. You may be able to work through the course material and written assignments at a faster rate than estimated here if you are able to devote more time to your studies. However, we do not encourage students to work through quickly at the expense of the quality of their work.

Apply now!

Please follow the link below to download an application form for the Equine Physiotherapy Diploma Programme.
Please note that this does not constitute an enrolment until you are accepted onto the programme.

Payment options:

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The Open College of Equine Studies
33 Pages Lane
Lower Green
Bury St Edmunds
IP28 6NJ

Registered Office:

The Open College of Equine Studies
Eldo House
Kempson Way
Bury St Edmunds
IP32 7AR
Company No. 04354226