Our Equine Health Plans are an excellent way to monitor your horses’ health and can be undertaken in conjunction with vaccinations.
We believe that these detailed health plans are an enormous step in the right direction and aim to offer a simple way for you to ensure the very best preventative healthcare for your horse.
The Health Review involves a detailed examination and discussion covering the following aspects of your horses’ health:
Vaccination Programme for the year
Worming Programme for the year to include dropping sample for a worm egg count
Foot Care and Farriery review
Dental care review
Review of past and present problems
Full Clinical Examination
Blood Sample (horses aged 16+)
All of this information is written down in a BEVA (British Equine Veterinary Association) Detailed Annual Health Review & Plan booklet and is yours to keep. Clinical notes and action plans will be recorded for your horse to be reviewed on an annual basis (or as frequent as is necessary).
We are now in the 21 st century and animal welfare and veterinary medicine have advanced greatly. All of these changes affect our animals positively and are embraced by those of us who want the best for our pets. As vets, we are trying to make medicine more pro-active and less reactive which basically means trying to prevent illness happening by better educating owners and detecting potential problems earlier rather than treating disease once it has taken hold.
I believe that these detailed health plans are an enormous step in the right direction and will help prevent a large number of common diseases and management related problems. Each plan is expected to take 30-45 minutes to undertake. These plans, whether mandatory or not, are for those of us who wish to see our horses in the best of health year after year and they increase in importance as our horses get older.
Please call 0161 643 7724 if you would like to put a plan in place for your horse.
PORTABLE DIGITAL X-RAY
We are the only equine practice in the area who have currently invested in state of the art mobile digital x-ray equipment.
Using this state of the art technology is a huge leap forward as it enables us to obtain extremely detailed images almost instantly without having to travel your horse / pony.
The new digital x-ray machine is only the size of a small suitcase and yet has the capacity to take high quality x-rays which appear within a matter of seconds on a laptop computer.
Apart from the fact that we are able to rapidly provide x-rays on site to a high standard, the digital format allows us to email the images anywhere in the world. In modern veterinary medicine this can allow us to get second opinions from experts in any particular field within a short period of time.
In order to undertake x-rays at your yard all we would require is a mains electricity power supply.
The portable ultrasound machine has two probes which enable us to scan tendons and pregnancies as well as heart and some abdominal organs when a problem is suspected with them.
The endoscope is a fibre optic camera which can be used to view the accessible areas of the head and throat as well as further into the trachea (windpipe) and lungs. This is also used to view the stomach, particularly looking for ulcers.
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Cryosurgery is the application of extreme cold to destroy abnormal or diseased tissues. It is a procedure which has been commonplace in human medicine for many years and is now being more extensively used in veterinary medicine. In veterinary medicine most of its uses are associated with skin diseases. The basis of the success of this technique is through harnessing the extremely destructive nature of extreme cold temperatures. We are all familiar with the effects of the cold on arctic explorers and the associated frostbite often encountered. As the tissues are exposed to these extremely low temperatures ice crystals form within the cells and thus cause them to die. This effect is amplified if the blood vessels supplying the lesion are frozen too, thus depriving the mass of its necessary nutrients.
Crysosurgery is classed as a minimally invasive procedure, that is it doesn't require a general anaesthetic or any stitches and scarring is minimal afterwards. It does have some risks associated with it, the main one being the potential for nerve damage to occur. However, this is thought to be a very minimal risk and also is dependant upon the site where the procedure is being performed. It is also possible to damage healthy tissue nearby, but every step is taken to minimise this risk.
Animals are sedated for the procedure as it is essential they remain still. Usually animals experience a little discomfort and pain after the procedure. Blisters typically form and the area scabs over. The wound usually heals without complication leaving the skin free from diseased tissue.
The technique we use to perform cryosurgery is to use a cryoprobe. This is a small canister with a spray applicator at the top. This allows the super cooled liquid nitrogen to be released and directed accurately to the required area. It is applied in several short blasts to the entire mass. The area is allowed to then thaw and the process is then repeated several more times. It is thought that repeating the freeze-thaw cycle amplifies the destructive effect of the procedure. Larger lesions may require a second or third application a few weeks later.
The use of cryosurgery in horses is mainly for the treatment of some types of sarcoids. Not all sarcoids are suitable for this method of removal, so assessment of the lesion by a vet prior to the procedure being performed is necessary. Some skin warts also respond very well to cryosurgery too.
If you would like any further information about this please do not hesitate to contact us.
We use a laboratory based in Lancashire to process all of the blood samples and swabs that are taken during the investigation of some cases. They offer a daily collection service and efficient return of results by e-mail. Our intention is to be able to do a large amount of these tests at the practice soon. Samples of droppings taken for worm egg counts and blood for tapeworm testing are sent to a dedicated laboratory at Leahurst.
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PRE PURCHASE EXAMINATIONS
I am still disappointed by the number of horse buyers who do not have a potential new horse or pony examined by a vet before handing over their money. Some people get away with it but some do not.
The most common reason people give for not having a horse vetted before buying is that the horse is only “cheap” so they didn’t see the point. This is a flawed argument as it is generally the case that the less expensive animals are the ones with more problems, both medical and behavioural. Another point is that whatever the cost of the horse or pony the purchaser usually pays up to what they can afford, therefore whether the horse costs £500 or £50,000 it is an equally significant purchase.
The most common “problems” seen in horses purchased without a pre-purchase examination are:
- large discrepancies in age, e.g. a horse bought as a 7 years old actually being in its late teens
- lameness covered by the use of pain killing drugs
- old injuries / conditions belittled by the seller that actually may cause ongoing problems
The list could go on and on.
Another significant reason to have your potential new horse examined by a vet is that most insurance companies are now insisting on a five-stage examination before they will issue a policy for the horse. If you have already purchased the horse and then have the examination done for the insurance company, every scar or blemish or more significant problem may result in exclusions under your policy, leaving you with a partially insured horse. It is most definitely better to discover any problems before you buy.
When going to view the horse or pony initially, a lot of people will substitute the veterinary examination with one of a number of other “experts” ranging from riding instructors and friends who compete regularly, to family and friends who also own horses. Whilst these people can offer advice on the suitability of the type of horse and ask some pertinent questions to the seller, they cannot comment on medical soundness or offer any guarantee of the suitability of the horse for your intended use.
The pre-purchase examination is undertaken with the intended work in mind. For example, animals intended for hacking, showing, dressage and show jumping will all have different specific considerations throughout the examination. The examination is done in five distinct stages:
- The examination in the stable where all external signs of disease are noted down to the smallest skin lump. The heart and lungs are examined; the eyes, mouth and throat are looked at. The horse is aged by its teeth to match the passport and its general conformation commented on.
- The horse is walked and trotted up on a hard level surface to note conformation again and lameness. Flexion tests are performed on all four limbs. These are intended to show very early joint disease which does not make the horse lame in normal work.
- The ridden phase. Depending upon the horse’s fitness and schooling it is made to do normal work on both reins with the intention of increasing its heart and respiratory rate – usually about 20 minutes of work in the ménage. There is a period of fast work to show any noises made during exercise.
- The period of rest. This time is given for the horse’s heart and respiration rate to return to normal. An extended recovery time is suggestive of subtle heart or lung disease.
- A further trot up is done to show whether the exercise period has brought out a lameness problem. There is also an examination of the feet for conformation and quality.
A blood sample is taken and stored. This can be tested at any point in the six months after the purchase for painkillers or sedatives. The form is signed by the vendor giving permission for the sample and this means if the sample tests positive you are entitled to a full refund.
X Rays – Optional but advisable
I also strongly advise that the horse has its two front feet x-rayed to examine its navicular bones. I have seen a number of horses that have been sound during the examination but have changes in their navicular bones suggestive of early navicular disease. This is only picked up on x-ray and I have seen this condition in horses as young as 4.
The sensible thing to do is to include the cost of the pre-purchasing vetting in your budget for your new horse or pony – then it does not become an extra cost. Currently the cost of a pre-purchase examination at this practice is £220 without x-rays and £300 with 2 navicular x-rays, this is inclusive of VAT.
The sensible thing to do is to include the cost of the pre-purchasing vetting in your budget for your new horse or pony to buy yourself some piece of mind. If you would like a price for a pre-purchase examination please contact the office on 0161 643 7724.
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AI (ARTIFICAL INSEMINATION)
AI is becoming more popular in horses as methods get better and therefore the success rates improve. There are a number of advantages to the mare owner over natural service and we can liaise with your chosen stud and inseminate your mare without the hassle of travel to the stud and the risk of injury during service.
We have purchased a wireless foaling alarm system which is available for hire for those clients who want to be present when their mare gives birth. It works by sensing the amount of sweat being produced on the neck of the mare and sending a signal to the alarm which can be in a nearby house or caravan. This can then either simply set off an alarm to wake you up or telephone you if you are out of the house. The alarm box requires mains electricity and the phone ringer plugs into your land line but does not interfere with it.
Horses and ponies can be micro-chipped to help protect them from theft and aid to getting history on a horse you have bought.
Industry experts agree that microchips are the most reliable and tamper-proof method of identification, the best means of authenticating horse passports and of ensuring the accuracy and success of the National Equine Database.
Any equine foal born after 1 July 2009 will have to be microchipped, under European-wide regulations approved in March 2008.
Microchipping must be carried out by a qualified vet.