Preventative medicine

Preventative Medicine

“Routine veterinary care” is fundamental in ensuring your horse’s well-being. Ideally, I should examine your horse at least once every year, even if it is apparently fit and healthy. Although owners may be quite competent in caring for their horses, some signs of ill health can be quite subtle and require a qualified veterinarian to detect, diagnose and treat. Early detection of any issues is vital in lessening the risk of them developing into bigger problems down the line, and this is why it is important that your horse receives regular vet checks.

I can visit your horse to provide:


I recommend regular vaccination against equine influenza and tetanus for most horses, and vaccination against equine herpes virus for horses considered most at risk (i.e. younger and older horses, pregnant mares and those that travel or attend shows where they may have contact with other unknown horses).

In the UK (and many places abroad), to minimise the spread of disease and prevent disruption to events, many governing bodies (i.e. such as National Federations, FEI, BHA, etc.) require horses to be vaccinated. Vaccination involves a primary course followed by at least a yearly booster. Please check our vaccination calculator (provided by BHA) by clicking on the image below if you are unsure of the inoculation timings:

Tetanus is caused by a bacteria called Clostridium tetanii which can live in soil for long periods of time. Infected horses develop severe muscle spasms and stiffness and most cases will result in death, even in those where early diagnosis and heroic treatment is attempted. Luckily, most horse owners in the UK vaccinate against the disease and we rarely see a case.  The main symptoms to look for are: the third eyelid would became visible, the tail is held straight and they start to develop an anxious expression of facial muscle spasm. Contaminated or puncture wounds have an increased risk of infection. If your horse has not received a tetanus vaccination, or cover has lapsed, an anti-toxin injection is available which provides short term protection. This needs to be given as soon as possible however, and should not be considered a substitute for standard tetanus vaccination.

Equine Herpes Virus – “Diamonds and Herpes are forever!” Herpes is a very widespread virus which can live “dormant” in many horses. There are different types of herpes and they can be complex in their manifestation, causing a variety of syndromes. They can cause mild respiratory infections, however EHV1 and EHV4 can also cause neurological issues, and can induce pregnant mares to abort. Also EHV3 can cause coital exanthema, which can be a problem in both stallions and mares. Therefore it is important that horses are vaccinated against EHV.

Dental care: I have a special interest in equine dentistry, and extensive experience in both routine and advanced dental procedures and surgery. I provide a calm and effective service, and am used to handling young and nervous horses; as a veterinary surgeon I can also provide sedation and painkillers if required, to ensure a thorough examination of the entire mouth and help give your horse a calm and pleasant experience. Using special motorised tools, I can perform routine rasping and wolf tooth removal. 

Horses’ teeth erupt continuously throughout their life. Youngsters erupt 24-32 deciduous (temporary/baby or milk) teeth and these are eventually shed and replaced by permanent teeth (the average horse usually has 36-40 permanent teeth).

Sometimes, issues are only noticed when the horse begins work and is introduced to a bit, but some dental issues can arise even in untrained horses that only wear a headcollar (for example weight loss, being head-shy and behavioural changes).

Geriatric horses and young horses (2-3 year olds) often require more regular checks due to milk teeth erupting or established teeth becoming loose with age. It is often worth getting foals’ mouths checked soon after birth to ensure there are no congenital anomalies or malocculsions that require immediate intervention to minimise problems with nursing, or later in life. Deciduous teeth (also known as caps) are softer than permanent teeth and can therefore actually develop sharp edges faster!

Horses that present an abnormal teeth wear, would be prevented from eating effectively and this can potentially cause other gastrointestinal problems (i.e. colic). Even horses that are ridden bitless require dental care, because tack pressing on the horse’s nose or cheeks against sharp teeth can still cause or aggravate conditions such as ulcers. During a routine visit, I perform a complete examination of the mouth and head and can also provide advice on feeding, management and dental hygiene procedures.

Passports: It is a legal requirement that every horse in the UK has a passport, and this must accompany the horse at all times (except when the horse is stabled, out at pasture or being moved on foot. However, the passport must be made available within three hours of it being requested by an enforcement agency). There could be exceptional circumstances, i.e. when a horse is being transported to a hospital for emergency veterinary treatment when having the passport is not strictly required. Owners of foals must obtain a passport for it on or before the 31st December of the year of its birth, or six months after its birth, whichever is later.

It is now mandatory that horses should be microchipped before applying for a passport, and only vets can microchip horses. I can visit your horse to microchip it, fill out a passport silhouette, and you can also combine this with a general health check if required.

Worming advice: Internal parasites can cause a variety of problems, from inappetence and weight loss, to colic and diarrhoea. Worm infestations in horses can also be fatal, especially to younger or older horses and those immunosuppressed from concurrent illness. Prevention is better than cure, and pasture hygiene and regular collection of droppings can be the most effective method of controlling worm burden.

A good personalised worming program, taking into account pasture management and number of in contact horses, is vital to ensure your horse has sufficient protection. Resistance to anthelmintics is a real threat, therefore a program with a combination of tests such as a Worm Egg Count and/or blood samples and minimal worming intervention targeted through the year is ideal. I also recommend that horses are weighed prior to treatment, to optimise the dose required.

Please note that faecal worm egg counts don’t test for tapeworm or encysted small redworm, so do contact me to discuss appropriate treatment for these.

Nutrition advice:  Whether your horse is overweight, underweight, or you just want some advice on how to maintain their current healthy weight during competition season or a change of yard, I can visit you to assess your horse and provide a plan on optimal nutrition, helping to keep your horse at a healthy weight regardless of an impending change in workload or environment. 

Geriatric care: Older equines can benefit from regular veterinary checks to ensure they are still healthy and monitor any age-related conditions such as Cushing’s, arthritis, dental problems, etc.

Routine health checks/ blood tests: These can be helpful in assessing your horse’s overall state of health, detecting early signs of disease and can also provide a baseline to enable comparison should the horse later develop an illness or other condition. There are also an extensive range of blood sample profiles that I can perform depending on the situation, from routine fitness profiles to more specific diagnostic tests to diagnose medical conditions. I can interpret the blood work as it relates to the clinical state of your horse, and if required offer some advice on health care. 

New horse/general veterinary advice: Do you want to know how to take your horse’s temperature and pulse, and assess its normal respiratory rate? If you have a new horse and would like me to give it a health check, or show you how to accurately monitor its usual TPR (temperature, pulse, respiration), I can visit to give a basic health check and show you how to monitor basic signs of health.