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Equine Services 

24 Hour Emergency Service

Examinations of sick and injured animals

At Hatchmoor Veterinary Practice we offer a fully mobile "first opinion" service (just like your G.P) where we are able to diagnose and treat your horse's problems.   If you are concerned or worried about your horse we will visit and examine your horse, diagnose the problem and provide treatment.

If the problem is something we are unable to treat on-site, we will arrange referral to one of our more specialised colleagues.  We will always use the most suitable referral centre for your horse's problem, but ;you will be involved in where your horse is referred.

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Routine Health Care

We provide a health check service for your horse with advice on worming, exercise and diet.

We also provide a faecal egg count service which will check your horse's worm burden.  This means that we can provide individual advice on worming which is specific to your horse's needs rather than give blanket advice for all horses.

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Vaccinating your horse should be part of the routine management of your horse's health.  Vaccinations protect your horse against life threatening diseases such as tetanus and against diseases which can seriously affect its health and/or performance such as equine influenza and herpes virus infection.

The organism which causes tetanus is present in soil and is easily transferred into open wounds or sores.  Unvaccinated horses would need tetanus antitoxin for even minor wounds but even this can be too late if the disease has already progressed.  Tetanus is a fatal disease in horses.  Vaccination provides the only long term solution to this problem.

The high take up of vaccination against equine influenza has meant that we have seen a drop in the number of cases.  However, there are still cases every year and your horse may come into contact with the disease.  Vaccination is the only way to protect your horse against this disease.

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Scoping allows us to see more closely what is going on.

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Dietary Advice

Horses need different levels of feed and nutrition depending on their age, current weight, activity level and overall health.  There are literally hundreds of feed types available for equines and many owners find the choice quite daunting.  We are able to offer advice on the most suitable feeding regime for your horse so that it can achieve the best performance possible.

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Equines have teeth which grow constantly throughout their life. They are herbivorous and graze for many hours a day.  Grazing means the teeth grind together and naturally wear down.  However, sometimes problems occur with this mechanism and this can be picked up during a routine dental examination.  Sharp hooks or edges may develop on the teeth and these need rasping smooth to avoid damage to the mouth and difficulty eating.  More severe disease can result in the horse losing weight because of reluctance to eat.

We recommend you have your horse's mouth checked routinely every 12 months.  We can do this at your horse's annual booster vaccination. It is important to realise that in younger horses permanent teeth are erupting which can lead to many problems. Once horses are in their mid twenties more frequent dental checks are required.

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Microchipping your horse is recommended so that he/she is permanently identifiable in case of theft.  Microchipping is now mandatory for all new equine passport applications and for all new foals born since July 2009.  Our microchipping service costs just £10.50 + VAT all year round.  We believe this is an essential service which should be provided at minimal cost to clients.

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We use ultrasound machines to diagnose a number of physical problems with equines. Whilst it is not always necessary to sedate a horse before ultrasonography, proper restraint is essential.

Ultrasonography is particularly useful for tendon or ligament injuries or for use in pregnancy diagnosis. It can provide detailed information on the structures of the reproductive tract, including the uterus and ovaries and help determine the stage of the oestrus cycle in order to decide when to breed.

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At some point in its life, your horse or pony will inevitably become lame.  The first thing to do is find out where it hurts and what is causing it.  There may be an obvious wound or cut on the leg, but more than likely it will take some investigation to discover the problem.  Calling in a vet not only saves the horse from living with the pain for longer than necessary, but is usually cheaper in the long run.

At Hatchmoor Veterinary Practice we can diagnose the cause of the problem and provide treatment so that your horse can return to work as soon as possible.

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Sport Horse Medicine

Any horse that performs with its rider competitively or recreationally is an equine athlete.  Just as with human athletes who push their bodies to their physical limits, equine "athletes" also push their bodies further and faster in order to achieve success.  If injuries result they may not be catastrophic but may limit the horse's ability to perform at the expected level.

Although owners can usually spot a horse who is limping or coughing and identify why the horse did not have success, identifying minor disruptions to its health can be difficult to the untrained eye.  An injury to a joint which would not bother a broodmare, would obviously be of major significance to a racehorse.  Generally, even small problems may have a significant effect of a high performance horse.  Also, the longer such problems are allowed to continue the more likely a greater breakdown at some point in the future.

Sport Horse medicine is not only for elite horses.  Poor performance may be coming 3rd not 1st in a race but equally it may be not enjoying a day's hunting because the horse was coughing.  If a horse is unable to perform to the best of its ability then the cause should be investigated.

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Stud Medicine

Many owners request an examination of their mares in preparation for the breeding season.

An examination will identify any problems and give the mare the best opportunity of beginning the season in the best condition possible to ensure a successful pregnancy.

The objectives of such an examination are:

  • to identify and treat any possible problems in the reproductive organs which may reduce fertility in the coming season
  • to diagnose, if appropriate, why a mare did not have a successful pregnancy and assess whether appropriate treatment may be given
  • to monitor the response of any treatment given in the previous season
  • to take swabs as required by prospective studs in order to meet nomination requirements in good time
  • to treat any abnormality or positive results found as a result of such swabs being taken

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Pre Purchase Examinations (Vettings)

The purchase of any horse involves taking a risk regarding its suitability for a specific task or with regard to its health and wellbeing.

When asking for a pre purchase examination by our vets you will have already decided on a specific horse; its height, colour, temperament and suitability for your purpose.

Our task is a thorough examination of this chosen horse to identify any potential issues which may affect the horse's suitability for your intended use.  We aim to quantify the degree of risk so that you are able to make an informed decision on whether or not to go ahead with the purchase.

Good communication is essential so our vet will spend time discussing the horse with you. At the end of this conversation our vet should be clear about what you intend to do with the horse, i.e. use it for hacking, cross-country, racing, etc. and will have noted any specific concerns you may have about the horse.

A normal (5 stage) pre-purchase examination "vetting" lasts between 2-3 hours.  It involves:

Stage 1: A full clinical examination, including an assessment of the horse's age

Stage 2: A trot up, examination of the horse's gait in both walk and trot.  Flexion tests are usually carried out at this stage of the examination.

Stage 3: A strenuous exercise stage.  Preferably carried out whilst ridden, however unbroken horses can be examined on the lunge.

Stage 4: The rest period to monitor the horse's recovery rate following the strenuous exercise period.

Stage 5: A second trot up with a final assessment.

After the final stage a blood sample is taken.  This is stored at The Horseracing Forensic Laboratories in Newmarket where it can be tested for the presence of medication up to 6 months after the vetting.  This would occur if, after purchase, a suspicion arose that the horse may have received sedatives or painkillers immediately prior to the pre purchase examination.

Once the pre purchase examination is complete, our vet will issue a detailed written report giving a clear indication of the horse's suitability for the purchaser.

A limited pre purchase examination (2 stage) can be carried out by our vets.  This usually lasts 1-2 hours and only involves the 1st and 2nd stages of the 5 stage examination.  If you are considering this procedure we suggest you speak with our vets so that you are fully aware of the limitations of this shortened version.

Please call us prior to purchase of a horse to discuss these pre purchase examinations.  If you decide not to go ahead with an examination a short conversation with our vet will help you better understand all the potential risks, including insurance risks or resale problems, should the horse prove unsuitable.

Points to note regarding the "vetting" procedure:

  • The veterinary surgeon is reporting to the purchaser not the vendor
  • The prospective purchaser will have tried the horse prior to the vetting.
  • You should ensure the horse is well shod for the examination
  • You should ensure there is  a suitable area for in hand and strenuous exercise - a hard surface for trotting up and an area where a canter can be performed
  • Ensure that tack will withstand strenuous exercise
  • If you (the purchaser) wish to obtain a warranty covering height, freedom from vices, the non administration of drugs prior to examination or the animals existing performance level, you should do so in writing from the vendor.  This is a matter between the purchaser and the vendor and is not the responsibility of the veterinary surgeon.

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Equine Passports

All equines in the UK must have an Equine Passport to comply with European legislation. There are over 50 DEFRA authorised passport issuing associations and societies in the UK alone.

When a passport is issued it contains a 15 digit unique equine life number (UELN) to identify the horse. The passport contains information regarding ownership of the horse, identification (including microchip number if applicable), a full medical and vaccination history, whether the horse may be used for human consumption, its travel history and any societies with which the horse is registered.

Please note: all foals born since 1st July 2009 and all adult horses requiring initial passports must be microchipped before a passport will be issued.

It is your responsibility as a horse owner to ensure you have a valid passport.  It will remain valid for the whole lifetime of the animal.  When a horse passes away, the passport should be returned to the passport issuing association where this will be recorded.  The passport will then be returned to you.

There are strict EU rules and regulations governing horses which are classified as "intended for human consumption". This means that some medicines and drugs cannot be administered to such horses to prevent these products entering the human food chain.

If you have declared in section IX of the Passport that the horse is not intended for human consumption, the classification can never be changed.  This section bars it from entering the food chain.  Should you lose your horse's passport, a duplicate can be issued, however, this section will automatically be completed and your horse will be classified as "not intended for human consumption" as it will be impossible to prove which drugs it has received during its lifetime.

You should carry your Equine Passport with you when travelling with your horse or it must be available within 3 hours should an inspection be required. You may be fined if you do not comply with this regulation.

Please have your passport available when our vets visit so that we can record any medication administered.

If you require an Equine Passport, we are able to provide you with a certificate of Equine identification which is needed by the agencies in order to issue a passport.

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Equine Export Certification

Gavin Dalton-Morgan is a qualified LVI and is able to carry out examinations for the import and export of horses.  Please contact us if you require this service.

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