A BRIGHTLY coloured muscle tape taken-up by some of the world's top sports stars is being used by a specialist clinic to treat horses.

Darlington based Lee Clark, whose clients include equestrian teams, show jumpers and race horse trainers, is one of only two qualified Kinesio instructors in the country to use Kinesio tape on animals.

The tape, which is produced in Newcastle, has seen its profile soar after being sported by stars including footballer David Beckham, cyclist Lance Armstrong, and tennis star Novak Djokovic.

The tape, which is designed to move and behave like skin when applied, is used by athletes to enable them to keep competing while overcoming injuries.

And Mr Clark, who runs the Equine Physiotherpay Clinic at his yard in Sadberge, said it was showing the same healing properties on horses as it does on people.

The specialist in horse tendon and ligament injuries said: "People around horses can be quite sceptical to start off with when you say you are going to put this sticky tape on the horse and it will heal quicker.

"But those we have managed to persuade have been very impressed by it.

"The younger trainers are more open minded and if they think there is something that's legal and will give their horse an advantage they will give it a go."

Mr Clark, the official Physiotherapist to the British Endurance Equestrian Team, carried out tests at the Hartpury Equestrian Centre in Gloucester, one of the country's leading equine educational establishments with an international reputation for excellence.

There he used a 3D gait analysis system to compare the

movement of horses on a treadmill prior to and after being taped.

He said: "All three horses showed an improvement.

"I am now looking for someone to help me fund some further research because it has been suggested that some of the improvement seen in people is psychological. Obviously with a horse it does not think like that."

Mr Clark, who also runs a physiotherapy clinic treating people, first started using Kinesio tape on his patients two years ago.

He said: "There are very similar applications that you use on people that can be adapted to work on horses.

"The only difficulty is you have to manoevre them, you can't tell them to put their leg somewhere."

Such has been the recent interest in the taping method that physiotherapists from every UK Premiership football club are now trained in its use.

The original tape and taping methods were developed by Dr Kenzo Kase in Japan in 1973, with the UK office opening in 2004.

Mr Clark can be contacted at www.equinephysio.co.uk