Poor Performance

Investigating respiratory noise and poor performance:

From elite equine Olympic athletes to childrens’ ponies, poor performance presents a significant problem in many of our patients. Subtle changes can be very challenging to detect, sometimes requiring special diagnostic tests, equipment and expertise.

Poor performance investigations should be tailored to the individual case presented, but may include: overground upper respiratory tract endoscopy to investigate wind problems, exercising ECG to check for heart problems (cardiac arrhythmias), blood tests, gastroscopy to detect gastric ulceration, lameness investigation, investigation of lower airway disease such as inflammation, infection, heaves and allergies using video-endoscopy, tracheal washes and broncho-alveolar lavage (lung washes).

If your horse makes a noise when he/she is exercising, overground endoscopy is likely to be the most useful diagnostic test. A small endoscope is placed up the nose, fastened in position on a bridle and the horse is then ridden or exercised as normal. The exercise test must replicate the conditions under which the horse normally makes the noise, so being ridden in the school is suitable for most horses but racehorses and eventers should be exercised at speed on the gallops. A huge variety of laryngeal and pharyngeal abnormalities can be diagnosed, many of which are completely undetectable when scoping horses at rest. In 40% – 50% of cases, more than one abnormality is diagnosed. From here we can decide which (if any) wind surgeries are appropriate, or if other tests such as lung washes, should be performed. For horses with poor performance and no respiratory noise, an exercising ECG can be performed at the same time as the exercising endoscopy. It should be borne in mind that around 30% of horses with palate problems are ‘silent’, so the absence of noise does not rule out a palatal problem.

Our poor performance assessments are competitively priced, and discounts are available for groups of horses. Please contact the hospital on 01903 883050 for further information.

Bandaging

The ability to bandage your horse effectively when they injure themselves or have undergone a veterinary procedure, is advantageous to both horse, owner and bank account. This article aims to give you the basic theory and principles behind applying safe secure bandages.

Every bandage, no matter how simple or complex, is composed of three basic layers: a primary layer which is a sterile material/pad that is applied directly to the wound or surgical site. This keeps the site clean, allows you to apply topical treatments such as Manuka honey and absorbs any discharge produced; a secondary layer which holds the primary pad in place and provides padding to the horse's leg. This padding acts as cushioning and is compressed by the outer layers to provide support to the leg; finally a tertiary layer which is composed of elastic bandage materials that bind the bandage together and compress the padding. This is also the outer layer of the bandage that holds everything together and hopefully is slightly waterproof.

The aims of a bandage are varied depending on what you are trying to achieve but all bandages should follow the contour of your horse’s leg and provide firm, even, pressure with no lumps, bumps or creases. Bandages have the ability to reduce swellings, encourage healthy wound healing by keeping wounds clean, removing discharge and immobilising the wound. Bandages will also provide some protection from further knocks and trauma from the environment. However, if bandages are not applied correctly, they can cause their own problems.

Bandage sores are a frustrating risk when bandaging your horse and usually occur when a bandage is either too loose and rubs the leg, or is too tight in one particular place which cuts off the blood supply to the skin causing it to die. If you have a wound, fracture or tendon injury that requires an immobilising bandage to be in place for several days or even weeks then bandage sores are to be expected but good bandaging principles will minimise these. Bandaging a horse for a long period of time will deprive the skin of oxygen and this makes bandage sores more likely. Frustratingly, once you have a bandage sore you will need to keep it bandaged until the sore is ready to be exposed to the environment.

Bandage bows are a consequence of uneven pressure throughout the bandage. If you are bandaging the lower half of your horse’s leg it is imperative that your bandage goes from the bottom of the knee/hock all the way down to the heel bulbs. This is because the flexor tendons at the front and back of the leg run from within the knee/hock all the way down to the pedal bone so to avoid any steps or changes in pressure along these tendons we need to bandage the length of the tendons also. A bandage bow can still be generated within a bandage that is the correct length if there is uneven pressure within the bandage. A common mistake is to pull the bandage tighter over the area where the injury is to “give it that little bit more help,” however, this uneven pressure can also cause a bow. Remember we want firm, even, pressure with no lumps, bumps or creases. A bow is bruising of the tissues around a tendon, however, the majority of bows are superficial and will resolve with the application of a good bandage. Generally, a bandage bow doesn't lead to damage of the underlying tendons but if you are concerned an ultrasound scan of the area is advised to check the tendons are unaffected.

A helpful indication that your horse isn't happy with a bandage, and could be getting a sore or bow, is if the horse starts to itch or rub the bandage. Some horses will do this regardless because they insist on refusing help and just don't understand we are actually trying to help! But generally if a horse is bothering at a bandage then it should be changed as it may be too tight or rubbing.
Generally, bandages can be left on for 3 to 4 days, however, this is very dependent on the type and location of the bandage. It must also be said if a bandage looks untidy and has slipped or creased after only 2 days but was expected to last 5, it is better to change the bandage now than wait.

When applying a bandage the leg should be fully weight bearing. When a horse unloads a leg the angle of the joints within the leg change, especially the fetlock. If you apply a bandage to a leg not fully loaded then when your horse does load the leg the angles of the leg within the bandage will also change, generating areas of increased focal pressure and areas of very little pressure. This is then not an even pressure and may lead to problems.

When you are next placing a bandage remember the padding layers are just padding and there is no need to pull them tight. When you do apply the pressure layers you are only trying to conform and crush the padding with firm pressure, not tight pressure. If you need lots of pressure on a bandage then keep adding secondary and tertiary layers of increasing pressure - don't go super tight on the first layers. To stop bleeding don't apply a really tight small bandage, just keep adding layers of firm pressure and the bleeding will stop. It doesn't matter if you go clockwise or anticlockwise round the leg but whatever direction you start in, keep going that way. If you have any concerns regarding a bandage or you need to apply one in an emergency call your vet and we can help talk you through it over the phone.

 

New Hospital

Exciting Year Ahead for The Arundel Equine Hospital

Many years ago we recognized that we need to expand our hospital and the quest began to find a new site to relocate to, it took a long time to find a suitable location. We were very fortunate to be able to buy a farm and get permission to demolish the existing buildings allowing us to invest in the building of a brand new, purpose built hospital. This large investment in the practice will allow us to provide our clients and patients an even better level of care.

Why are we building a new hospital?

The Arundel Equine Hospital is one of the oldest dedicated equine practices in the country, it was founded in 1950 by Mike Ashton. The current hospital was developed on the existing site, because for years one of the biggest clients for the practice was the racehorse trainer based at Arundel Castle. Due to the number of horses and the limitations of diagnostic technology at that time, the clinic needed to be close to the racing stables for horses to be dealt with. Time has moved on, there is no longer a trainer at the Castle and with the progression of diagnostic and therapeutic technology it now means that we can do so much with horses in an ambulatory fashion, in their home stables. As such we feel that we can now move the hospital to a new location, one that is a little more central to the area covered by the practice and one with a much better road network for horse box access.
Not only do we want to move due to geographic concerns, we have reached a point where the current site is too small for the existing numbers of staff. It is also too small for us to develop the new services that we want to provide to our patients and clients.

Where is the new hospital located?

The new hospital will be located on the B2133, just half a mile off the A24 outside Ashington.

What services will be provided in the new hospital?

We currently provide a huge number of specialist equine veterinary services, but with the new hospital it will mean that we will be able to have the space to put in an MRI and a CT scanner. The MRI scanner will be the first new diagnostic unit to go in, this will allow us to perform standing MRI images. The next phase of the development will be the CT scanner.

As well as the new services, we will also have more stables, a smart new surfaced arena and purpose built lameness exam areas and a pleasant client waiting area, meeting rooms where the clinicians can sit quietly and go through the cases that come in with owners. The office space will be massively expanded as will the lab and the pharmacy that we currently have. There will be a conference room where we plan to hold a series of client information evenings.

What will it mean to clients who find themselves further away from the hospital as a consequence of the move?

The ambulatory care of the equine patients in the practice will not change when we move. The vets will still attend yards as they do now and we will still have our van buzzing around from yard to yard with all the digital diagnostic equipment such as x-ray, ultrasound and endoscopy. The only difference will be a box journey of a different length in the unfortunate circumstance when a patient needs to come into the hospital, however getting to the new clinic will be so much easier due to accessibility.
What will the new hospital be called?

The name for the new hospital has not been decided upon yet and is a hot topic of discussion!

When will the project be completed?

The building work is well on track, Rob van Pelt has been driving things forward at a rapid rate and we aim to be opening the new hospital in the middle of the summer 2017!!

Chiropractic Treatments

November 2016

Olga and Simon have both successfully passed their certification with the International Academy of Veterinary Chiropractic (IAVC) in Sittensen, Germany. Having two of our vets certified in veterinary chiropractic enables us to offer this new exciting service to our patients.

What is Chiropractic?

Veterinary Chiropractic is a manual therapy, which restores function of muscles and joints in the neck, back and pelvis to maintain optimum movement and soundness. It focuses on the biomechanical dysfunction of the spine and its effects on the entire nervous system throughout the body.
Veterinary Chiropractic treatment does not replace traditional veterinary medicine; however, it can provide additional means of diagnosis and treatment options for spinal problems as well as biomechanical related musculoskeletal disorders.

Veterinary chiropractic treatment can be used for:
• Chronic musculoskeletal problems
• Acute problems such as tension or stiffness
• Prophylactic treatment to maintain fitness
• Maintenance of soundness in older animals
• Enhance performance ability in competition horses
• Treatment of chronic and acute pain syndromes
• Complementary treatment for chronic lameness such as bone spavin, osteoarthritis, navicular syndrome or tendon problems

What does a chiropractor feel for when assessing your horse?

During a chiropractic consultation the posture and gait of your animal is assessed, followed by a thorough palpation of the horse’s spine and body. A healthy animal should move symmetrically and bend in all directions without tension. Even though horses have a very large, thick muscle mass over the spine, the vertebral joints are flexible and relatively easy to manipulate with minimal force. An animal showing tension, pain, muscle imbalance or asymmetry, will likely have restricted vertebral joints as an underlying problem. A restricted joint is also called a subluxation. Diagnosing and treating subluxations along the spine and pelvis is the essence of veterinary chiropractic care.

How does a chiropractic adjustment work?

When a chiropractor identifies a subluxation, he or she aims to correct the misalignment of the spine and restore mobility to the joint.
Realignment is made via a quick, short thrust along the plane of the joint. This is called an adjustment. The adjustment is done by placing the hands directly on the affected vertebra (previously identified in the examination). Chiropractic manipulation is not painful and no sedation is required.

When is Chiropractic useful?

Chiropractic helps any horse to move more freely and symmetrically. It prevents wear and tear and will promote their long-term health. Hence treatment can be suitable for horses of all breeds and ages.
Performance horses will need the most frequent treatment due to the stress on their body. Your veteran and leisure horse may be fine with just yearly routine check-ups.
To book an appointment or find out more about veterinary chiropractic, please ring the office on 01903 883050.

Pre-Purchase Examinations

The pre-purchase examination of a horse is broken down into stages. There are two main types of vetting: a two stage or a five stage vetting. Some people choose to go for the shorter and thus cheaper two stage examination (includes stages one and two), risking that some things may not be picked up on. The stages are as follows:

Stage one – This occurs in the stable. The vendor is questioned about previous medical history and vices, then a full clinical examination is performed, assessing conformation, palpation of limbs and back, examination of the mouth and eyes, and listening to the heart. Surgical scars and conditions like sarcoids are looked for.

Stage two – The horse is examined outside the stable in-hand, again assessing conformation. The horse will be walked and trotted in a straight line looking for lameness. Flexion tests are then performed on the limbs. The horse may then be lunged at trot.

Stage three – This is the exercise test where the horse is ridden, usually in a sand school. It is evaluated at walk, trot, canter and gallop. Primarily we are looking for lameness but we are also evaluating the horse’s breathing for abnormalities. The heart is assessed after exercise. The horse may also be lunged on a soft surface.

Stage four – The horse is rested for approximately 20 minutes before being trotted again in stage five, to check for stiffness following exercise. We also listen to the heart as it slows down after exercise. The horse’s markings will be taken, microchip scanned and a blood sample taken. The optional (recommended) blood sample is taken to prove that the vendor had not administered any medication beforehand. The sample is stored for six months and tested if there is a problem after purchase. During this stage vets might examine the horse’s feet.

Stage five – This is a final trot up. Sometimes the flexion test may be repeated.

A pre-purchase examination is very much a legal contract between the vet and the purchaser. The vetting is done on behalf of a specific purchaser, for a specific purpose. The findings about a horse may be acceptable for the intended use by one person and so the horse passes the examination, but not acceptable for another person so the horse would fail.

Choosing between a two or five stage vetting often depends on the horse’s age, value and intended use. The same is true of whether radiographs should be performed. Sometimes a standard set of images is obtained and sometimes images are obtained of issues that have been identified on the clinical examination, such as a swollen joint. A standard set of radiographs would include the front feet, all four fetlocks, both hocks and stifles. Extra images such as of the back and knees can be taken if appropriate.

Many competition horses would undergo an endoscopic examination of the upper airway to assess laryngeal function. This would also be carried out if an abnormal inspiratory noise was heard during stage three. If on palpation, swelling in the limbs was identified then an ultrasound examination could be performed. This too can be done as a matter of routine, especially if the horses has already competed at a very high level.

Sometimes a blood sample is collected (there is an additional fee for this) and assessed. It is advisable to request that the horse has a blood sample collected and stored at a forensic laboratory, this allows the horse to be screened for some painkillers and sedatives administered by the vendor prior to the pre-purchase examination, if the horse turns out be lame or have behavioural issues when you get it home. Every horse I vet has this sample taken as it protects the vendor and purchaser if something goes wrong after the vetting. 

If the horse is to be insured, then the insurance company may dictate what they require to be done in terms of vettings and tests so it may be a good idea to speak to your insurance company prior to the vetting.

As to which vet should do the vetting, most people try to use their usual vet as they trust their judgement, however if a large distance must be covered, this can be cost prohibitive. It may be best to get the vendors vet to examine the horse as they should, with the vendor’s permission, provide you with the horse’s medical history – learning more about the horse than just what is gleaned from the examination. If you employ their vet to examine the horse on your behalf, they will be working for you with your interests in mind not the vendor’s.

Written by Dr Ed Lyall, BVetMed, CertEM (StudMed), MRCVS

New Theatre Table!

New Theatre Table @ AEH

It was an exciting day at the hospital today as we were pleased to install a new surgical bed! As part of our move towards replacing our equipment prior to relocating to the new hospital we have purchased a new theatre bed. This is a "top-of-the-range" table which will make operations more comfortable both for the staff and horses. The new bed also has the ability to tilt into different positions allowing us better access to previously inoperable areas. The surgery team at Arundel are very excited about the new prospects this will bring enhancing our services to our clients and patients!

 

Flu Awareness

 

Merial Equine Health have teamed up with the Animal Heath Trust (AHT) to run an Equine Flu Awareness Month to help create a greater awareness of this disease and highlight the importance of vaccinating against it.

Equine flu is an infectious disease affecting the upper respiratory tract of horses. It is prevalent in the UK with frequent outbreaks recorded over the last few years.

A horse with flu needs complete rest and isolation, often putting them out of action for weeks. Crucially, outbreaks can affect competitions of all levels potentially resulting in the cancellation of events in order to control the spread of disease.

Clinical signs usually appear within 1–5 days of exposure and can last for 3–6 weeks. They can include a high temperature, cough, nasal discharge, enlarged glands under the lower jaw, conjunctivitis, depression, loss of appetite and filling of the lower limbs.

If your horse shows any of these clinical signs consult the practice immediately, even if they have been vaccinated. This will allow appropriate tests to be carried out to determine the cause, and ensure that a suitable treatment plan is put in place. Remember to keep the horse isolated from others during this time as flu is highly infectious.

The equine flu virus evolves and changes constantly and it is important that its development is monitored in order to ensure vaccines protect against the circulating strains. Recent outbreaks in the UK are known to be of a strain called Florida Clade 2 (a sublineage of H3N8).1 Current guidelines from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recommend that vaccines should contain both Clade 1 and Clade 2 strains of the Florida sublineage.2

Running for the month of April only, The Arundel Equine Hospital will be working with Merial Equine Health to offer the 'Back on Track' vaccine amnesty. This offer entitles the owner of a horse or pony over 12 months of age and not yet to have been vaccinated against equine influenza or is overdue a booster, to a free second dose of ProteqFlu® or ProteqFlu-TE® vaccine given as part of a primary course. The below terms and conditions apply to this offer, please read to check that your horse or pony is eligible. 

1. The Vaccination Back on Track initiative allows (eligible) horses to receive a discounted primary vaccination course. 
2. The offer is only open to horses that are over 12 months of age and have not yet been vaccinated against equine influenza or are overdue a booster. 
3. In order for horse owners to qualify for the Vaccination Back on Track initiative, the initial vaccination must be during the April 2016
4. The second vaccination must be completed 4-6 weeks after the first vaccination. 
5. Please note the offer does not include the third dose of ProteqFlu/ProteqFlu-Te vaccine. 
6. Any visit fee must be borne by the horse owner.

If you would like to arrange a visit to start the vaccination course please call reception on 01903 883050, and remember if you bring your horse or pony to the hospital to receive the vaccination you will save on a call out fee too! 

Choosing To Breed

Making the decision to breed from your mare should not be taken lightly. There are many unwanted and neglected horses that could have been avoided if people did not breed carelessly and without thought. Therefore I consider the primary question you should be asking yourself now is:
“Why are you breeding from your mare?”

Are you choosing to breed because your mare is a much loved pony that your family has now outgrown? If this is the case will the potential foal actually be suitable for your purpose or in fact be too small? Putting a big stallion to a small mare will not guarantee an offspring half way in-between - like humans they may take after the father or the mother. Before you breed because of sentimental reasons, ask yourself is your mare of good enough type or does she have faults that you are choosing not to see?

A common explanation I hear is that people are putting a mare in foal because she is too sharp or difficult in temperament to be ridden, which is a terrible reason to decide to breed. Temperament is certainly hereditary and a horse with a difficult nature is likely to pass this onto the foal, and even at a professional level, horses need to have both ability and a trainable disposition.

Breeding because of injury to the mare also needs to be considered carefully, as potentially the weakness or a predisposition to the injury may be directly hereditary or the conformational attributes that predisposed the injury may be inherited. If you have any concerns regarding this point you should discuss the situation with your own vet before proceeding.
Breeding to sell or breeding to keep? Sadly the notion that you can make lots of money breeding horses seems to rarely eventuate especially if you do not have your own property. The potential cost of breeding a single foal for you to keep is likely to far exceed the cost of buying one already grown. You need to consider firstly the cost of putting your mare in foal including veterinary fees and stud fees. Then you should add the potential livery costs for the mare while she is in foal, then with the foal at foot and once the foal is weaned. Where are you going to foal the mare down and how much will that cost? When do you plan to sell the progeny, as a foal, yearling or once they are being ridden and consequently what will the cost be of keeping them until that point? Will you insure the foal and what will the costs be for vaccinations, passport, microchipping, castration and other unexpected injuries or illnesses?

If you are planning on selling the offspring what is the realistic amount you are likely to get for them and how does this compare with the actual cost of producing a horse from birth to the point of sale? Even using the best of bloodlines for both the sire and dam does not guarantee a potential superstar and high value off-spring.

That said, there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of competing on a horse you have watched come into the world and produced through the grades yourself. In addition, not all horses have to be professional athletes and breeding from a sentimentally valuable mare to produce a pleasure horse that will be loved and have a happy home for life cannot be considered a bad thing to do. So if after considering the question "why are you breeding from your mare?", you are still keen to proceed then it is time to contact your stud veterinarian to discuss your individual situation.