About veterinarian Heidi Nielsen
“With knowledge and education, we make the greatest strides”
I have always had a preventive approach to treating animals. That means that when I meet horses with issues, I launch an investigation into how the problems arose, and work with the horse owner to figure out what can be changed to prevent it from happening again.
Some of the ways I help horses
Whether they are competitive horses, trail horses, or “pasture ornaments”, I treat all kinds of horses and help prevent injuries.
These are the ways I do that:
- Looking closely at the horse’s mouth. As an equine dentist, who also works as a chiropractor, I know that if a horse has pain in his mouth, he is out of touch with his body and cannot move or carry himself correctly. The horse also won’t be able to utilize all the nutrients in the feed, and that can make it hard to build muscle. So if the horse is not performing as he should or has issues during training, I always do a thorough examination of the mouth. When the mouth is free from pain and the teeth can chew and grind the feed without pain or discomfort, the body can be treated and trained efficiently.
- Chiropractic adjustment of the horse, if there are/have been injuries or imbalances. My primary goal is to give the horse full mobility of the whole body and ensure that the owner is well-prepared for the rehabilitation process.
- Teaching you how to build a strong and durable horse that works well. I do that through my online courses and blogs, in addition to the clients I see in my daily work.
- Inspire you, through ProPrio Training, to train your horse to better balance and strength, no matter your level. The online course and the book give you the recipe for efficient physiotherapeutic training. Training you can begin on your own.
Focus on knowledge, equipment and education
While I still follow the general development in veterinary medicine and participate in conferences, I have chosen to keep my own focus entirely on the horse’s teeth and biomechanics. I am the horse’s dentist and chiropractor, so I am not an expert on, for example, reproduction or gastro-intestinal surgery.
With knowledge and education, we make the greatest strides, so it is crucial to me to stay updated on new scientific knowledge and follow the developments. I continue to educate myself and I participate in courses and conferences nationally and internationally. There are always new and exciting developments in terms of equipment as well, and I keep a close eye on equipment, technology and materials that can help horses. Recently I invested in a dental camera, ultrasound, and laser.
You know your horse the best. I know that
Good cooperation with the owner is important in order to help the horse in the best possible way. The owner knows their horse the best. I always listen to the owner, and use their insight and experience with their horse in my assessment and treatment plan. That dialogue and cooperation is so rewarding, which is why I always take the time to show and tell exactly how the owner can proceed if they’re stuck. My goal is to treat, guide, and counsel in a way that enables the owner to prevent future injuries and build a horse that works.
How did I get here
- Obtained degree as veterinarian at Copenhagen University in January 2009
- Employed in clinic from 2009-2012
- Certified veterinary chiropractor by IVCA (International Veterinary Chiropractic Association) in 2010
- Started my own clinic full time as an equine dentist and chiropractor in May 2012
- Currently studying odontology at the SLU Department of Clinical Sciences in Sweden
- Writer, lecturer, and workshop organizer
Further courses in:
- Equine dentistry
- Postural Rehabilitation (Alexander technique for horses, dogs, and people)
- Osteopathy (Functional indirect technique)
- Equine Touch (ET)
Here are some fun facts about me
The life as a horse owner and veterinarian is the most fun and inspiring life I could ever imagine. Every day, I get to work with the most wonderful horses and owners and live out my dream of being able to take care of animals and make sure they’re doing well.
Here are some other facts about me and my life:
I drive more than 45.000 km every year
All of Denmark is my workplace, and I spend many hours on the road.
I say good morning and smile at my animals every day
I have always loved animals, and I have always wanted to take care of them and make sure they are well.
From when I was very young, it has always been important to me that the horse’s stall was clean and with soft bedding, so he could sleep well.
I was happy to get up early in the morning to take the horse out, because I loved to see how happy he was to go out and run and play with his horse-friends.
Animals have always made me smile, and it feels good to be around them. So of course I say good morning – every morning – and smile at my animals, the current tally being 5 horses, 1 dog, and 3 cats.
I am happy to admit mistakes, and encourage others to do the same
As a professional, I am never afraid to learn, to reevaluate my current knowledge and conviction, and admit if something I used to do no longer the right thing to do. My best example is my knowledge about enamel points on the teeth, which I used to float without discrimination. However, it is now known that the horse needs the sharp enamel points to chew the tough feed properly. If the teeth are floated and almost smooth, they cannot grind the feed very well. While some enamel points can cause the horse pain, or restrict movement of the jaw, the cause is often something else, like a cavity, gum disease, or any number of other dental ailments. So instead of floating indiscriminately, I now do a thorough exam of the whole of the horse’s mouth, and go by a 5 second rule to make sure I don’t float a tooth too much. Often, only 4-6 teeth need to be filed, while others need a thorough cleaning, treatment for gum disease, etc. If we all keep learning and admit our earlier mistakes, we will collectively become smarter than if we don’t. It mutually benefits all of our wonderful horses, who deserve to be treated in the best possible way.
I buy more than 20 kilos of treats a year
I always have treats in my pocket, to avoid any frustrations when I work with horses.
I often stand on a big box when treating horses, and many of them are afraid of it. So I spend about 5 minutes giving the horse a treat every time he touches the box. It works pretty much every time.
When I need to sedate a horse, I bring a nice lick for the horses that are afraid of needles. It calms a lot of horses down.
In some horses, the fear of needles is so great that the lick isn’t enough. So of course I bring other options to calm the horse, to make sure the work can be done without the horse having a bad experience.