Category Archives: Vet General

Simply Horses New Vets and Pony Games. Exciting times

Hello. We would all like to introduce our new vet Sabine and her partner Paul together with their hobby Mounted Games. Fast and Furious may be the buzzword and even more impressive, Paul was representing Australia!

“Hi, my name is Paul and I am Sabine’s partner. I’m from Australia and I have just recently arrived in the UK as Sabine is an equine vet now working at Simply Horses Vet Clinic, in Fencehouses.

On my way here I stayed in America for six weeks in preparation for the International Mounted Games World Team Championship. I competed on the Australian team with four other Auzzies (as the Americans would say). For those that don’t know what mounted games is, Google it. I would try to explain it but I wouldn’t be able to give it the justice it deserves. What you do need to know and what I can explain is that it’s the best kind of equine sport out there for competitive, adrenaline seeking riders. It requires hand-to-eye and horsemanship skills, a good attitude and an amazing pony. Well that’s to play at a international level.

So you need a good pony.

Competing at pony games games2 games1
All but the American and Canadian Teams had their own ponies, the rest of the 13 teams had to source or get their ponies from the pool of ponies, it is a long way to take a pony after all. Us, Aussies, and the Northern Irish were the only ones to source our ponies for the competition while the rest relied on the pool. We met our ponies a couple of days before the competition.  I travelled with mine from Pennsylvania down to Virginia for some training with the team, then we made our way to Kentucky. Everyone else, excluding the Americans, Canadians, us and half the Northern Irish, had 3 days to get to know their ponies. Some changed ponies through the competition. So this kind of competition require a very confident and skilled rider.

The competition had four sets of ten races, with each race contributing to a total score. Then the top 8 scoring countries when into a two part final of 24 races, the next 6 had final to. We had a good set of ponies, though they were not as fast as some of the others in the pool. We made our way through the sets with 2 set seconds and a win. Our last set wasn’t so great, but we were saving the ponies for the finals. We started off the final with a few crackers and held the lead early. However we lost momentum in the middle and tried to keep our heads and finish as well as possible for part A. The Irish had a formidable lead on the rest for part B of the final and we didn’t have the speed to win so we were going for accuracy. The states had a smashing set, putting to sleep any doubts. The Irish lost their nerves and the States caught them making every race count till the last. The Canadians played well throughout, leaving them in front of us in the end. The Kiwis once again beat us, the development and competitiveness of the grass roots shining through on a world stage.

We had a rough trot in the final I think. We were down a rider due to injury, leaving me with two challenging but great horse as options for each race. For me it’s a case as always of could of, would of, should of. One of our ponies also lost all his speed and was a challenge on the way home in the final. The odds stacked against us, and we lost the moment and rhythm we had in the heats. It was a tough final and we did well to finish in the top five. The four other members of our team rode fantastic over the week riding with serious precision and team work, injury and all. 5th in the world is more than I ever expected. The Americans had a well deserved win, the Irish losing their lead in the second part of the final.

The final scores for the A final:

144 USA

141 Ireland

124 Canada

113 New Zealand

102 Australia

90 Wales

83 Northern Ireland

66 Switzerland
I have moved over to the UK for a while now to get more exposure to the sport, as it’s so big and competitive here compared to back home. World individuals is starting on the 28th of July and I’ll be there having a go.

A horse with a suture line exostosis on the forehead

Horses and Unicorns

Today on rounds, we had the opportunity to meet this lovely lady. She had a lump on her forehead which had been there for a month. What do you think it is?

IMG_0147 A horse with a suture line exostosis on the forehead

This lump is called suture periosteitis or suture line exostosis. It is an inflammation of the suture lines of the nasofrontal bone of the skull and can often occurs in youngsters. Quite often the cause of this is unknown. In some cases the cause can be trauma. It is usually non painful and usually settles with time.

Could this be the origin of the unicorn 😉 as some of these masses can get very large and some young horses can have a horned appearance.

This condition or a related condition can occur in humans as the image below shows. No one is sure why they occur but it is thought some type of irritation to the line joining the bones in the skull occurs.

A lump on the skull of a human behind the ear

Lisa’s Diary: wounds and wonky feet

By Lisa Paterson MRCVS

Keeping up to date with new developments in veterinary care is an essential part of our job and the Simply Horses staff often attend Continuing Professional Development events. In November I was invited to a BEVA event at Matfen Hall, where Patrick Pollock and Jim Ferrie gave talks on remedial shoeing and wound management in horses. Patrick is a vet based at Glasgow university and specialises in equine surgery, and Jim is one of Scotland’s best known farriers, so together they had a lot of good cases to talk about.

Patrick had brought along summaries of some of his most challenging and technical patients, including one poor horse with a stake stuck in its head. He discussed cases that hadn’t responded to traditional treatment and why they wouldn’t, because of complications with infection and foreign bodies. He also talked about the use of medicinal honeys.
Jim then stepped up to talk about his shoeing work and his use of spiral shoes and spiral trimming, which he finds are making a great improvement with horses that have a foot imbalance. Some horses, as they move forward, have an outward rotation between the knee and the canon bone and will place the hoof outside the middle of the leg to land flat. This causes excess load on the inside of the leg and hoof.

To address this problem, especially in a young horse in which the growth plates have not yet closed, Jim trims the hoof on a spiral which would see the outside lowered to allow normal footfall. In cases where the horse is older and already lame, this spiral can be made with a shoe. Jim also showed us photos of a horse that had been diagnosed and treated for a keratoma, which is a kind of benign tumour that grows through the horse’s foot.
Matfen Hall provided a delicious evening meal and it was good to chat with fellow equine vets from around the North East. The evening continued with Merial, a veterinary drugs company, talking about changes to their proteq flu/ tet vaccination. There is now a more advanced form of vaccine that protects against the Clade 2 strain of equine flu, which we are already using at Simply Horses.
Patrick then resumed his talk about wounds and there were some photo examples of equine limbs with wounds to evaluate. Answers were submitted and a prize was given for the best answer. The competition was fierce as the prize was a 10-year-old Scottish whiskey! I really enjoyed the evening and it has given me a lot of food for thought and some new information when it comes to dealing with complicated cases.

Simply Horses Vets , Equine Education

Working for a certificate

Having been out of University for just over 4 years now, I decided it was time to go back to the books and study. I enrolled on a certificate in advanced veterinary practice (certAVP), that I could do from home while continuing to work. So I am now once again a student at the University of Liverpool.

eq9vet vets study Loenardo horse and rider

The aim of the certAVP is to provide more in depth knowledge in a specific field of veterinary practice. As I am still in the early stages, I am learning more general information before going into a more in depth area of interest. Eventually I will be doing more specific work on medicine subjects, including hearts and lungs, colics, liver problems and several others.

I am sent weekly reading lists, along with weekly assignments. These vary from short responses, to longer case reports. I am also required to attend online meetings and online discussion boards with other vets enrolled on the certificate. These give me the opportunity to discuss alternative diagnoses and treatments with vets from this country and also those outside the UK working for the same certAVP.

I have been very lucky to have the help of my colleague, Keesjan, who started working for us a few months ago. He has done a lot of work in medicine (already holding certificates) and provides a lot of support for me when working up cases.

I hope that this certAVP will bring more to our clients and allow us to provide a better service to you all. In the mean time, it is back to the study for me as I have deadlines to meet!

Charlotte Stedman MRCVS

Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance.Will Durant (1885-1981) U.S. author and historian.

Horse insurance – cheapest isn’t always best

Finding the right horse insurance…..Not an easy task!

I have just recently bought a new horse and as he hopefully will keep me going for quite a few years decided that he needed to be insured, so I spent the week leading up to his collection trawling the internet for quotes and this really did open my eyes.

This is despite working or years at equine vets including Simply Horses Vet Clinic and dealing with lots of insurance claims.

The first main thing I found was to “read the small print” and I might add with some companies the small print was VERY small indeed, bring out the magnifying glass. What at first glance seemed a really good deal on further reading really was not! There were lots of exclusions to the policies and I mean lots, some didn’t have fixed excess instead it was a percentage of the claim, which if your horse needed surgery for whatever then I would have ended up with a hefty bill at the end which was the whole point of insuring my horse in the first place, some had limited pay out for diagnostics, some even only paid for the initial vet visit and no follow up treatment what so ever, what good was that?

As veterinary fees have risen there has been an increase in “budget” insurance policies which seem to give the minimum cover, so although the premiums are cheaper this may not be cost effective in the long run.

Most of the larger insurance companies that specialise in equine cover had very easy to navigate sites and I was able to tailor my cover to my needs, what activities I was going to use this new horse for, did I want remedial shoeing covered, complementary treatments and the extra cost of bedding if he had to be on box rest this all went into the mix and of course public liability is included on most of the larger companies which is peace of mind when out hacking if you end up in the awful situation of damaging a vehicle.

Another good pointer is speak to your horsey friends and ask who they use and what it covers, also ask your vet for advise although they are not allowed to “push” a specific company they will tell you the names of companies that offer good cover. There are discounts to pick up too if you make a one off payment instead of monthly, I managed a bit more discount as I already had my vehicle and trailer insured with them there is no harm asking what discounts are to be had.

Happy Simply horses clients, confident with their insurance

Happy Simply horses clients, confident with their insurance


So in a nutshell

• Can you afford not to insure your horse?
• Cheaper isn’t always best
• Insure for your needs
• Read the small print
• Go with an equine specialist

I learnt a lot from my hours spent looking but it was time well spent, I know I have the best cover for my horse for the activities I intend to do.

Simply horses find out about farriery in Italy

How the Italians do it!

As an Italian vet working in the UK there are many similarities with how farriery works.  In Italy a farrier is called a Maniscalco (which is derived from the words ‘mare’ as in horse and ‘shall’ meaning duty/responsibility).  Incidentially, the English word ‘marshal’ derives from the German words ‘marah’ (horse) and schalh (servant) – meaning who is responsible for taking care of horses.

In Italy farriers can train at local level or train via military farrier colleges which are now open to the public rather than just military.  It takes 2-3 years of both theory and practical work (apprenticeship) before an Italian farrier is qualified to European standards.    However, there are other shorter courses for farriers in Italy but these do not give qualifications for working outside Italy.  Unfortunately, there are also people who call themselves farriers, who have learnt the ‘skills’ from their fathers, ie family businesses carried down.  Whilst they may have experience they have no recognised qualification.


Recently, in Italy barefoot farriery has become popular resulting in the craft of farriery gaining new impetus.  Obviously, barefoot farriery requires learning new techniques and farriers have had to adapt and learn these new techniques.



As in the UK Italian farriers work closely with owners (who know the type of work the horse is required to do) and vets (who, for example, will ensure the appropriate measures are undertaken when a horse has joint problems, etc).


At equestrian sporting events in Italy a farrier would be present, along with vets and first aid personnel for people.

New research into suspensory ligament injuries in dressage horses

At Simply Horses we see our fair share of suspensory ligament injuries, the following article is very informative regarding research why dressage horse may suffer more than most.

Suspensory ligament injuries are relatively common in dressage horses, but there is little scientific information available on their causes. A recent study by researchers at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. examined the possible link between movement patterns at the collected and extended trot, and risk for suspensory ligament injuries.

Scientists used a high-speed camera to capture four Warmbloods working in collected and extended trot on three different surfaces. Each horse wore brushing boots fitted with inertial motion sensors and markers at five points on the hind legs to aid in video analysis.

The results demonstrated that when horses performed the collected trot across all three surfaces tested, there was a decrease in speed and stride length (measured in metres) but an increase in stride duration (measured in seconds) compared to extended trot.

Conversely, in the extended trot, horses showed an increase in flexion of the hock and extension of the fetlock when the limb was in contact with the ground. This suggests that there might be more strain placed on the suspensory ligament at extended trot compared to the collected trot, the team relayed. The authors suggested that this could be because the horse is moving over a greater distance at a greater speed at extended trot, increasing relative protraction and retraction of the hind limb, putting more strain on the soft tissue structures of the leg.

This might be particularly problematic for young horses in dressage training, as there is industry pressure for these horses to demonstrate extended paces–particularly if they are extravagant movers–but these young animals might not have sufficient muscular strength to support this movement, the team relayed.

“They key aspect in terms of young horses is to ensure that they are trained slowly and correctly to build up core muscle strength and not pushed to demonstrate extravagant paces before they have the strength through their body to support their limbs,” said Vicki Walker, BSc, MSc and study author. “Any new exercises should be introduced slowly and only undertaken for very short periods initially.”

For all dressage horses, it’s important to ensure the surface you ride on is level and stable, as other studies suggest that the gait of the horse is influenced by characteristics of the surface and that certain characteristics can increase the risk of injury. These could be exacerbated when the horse is working on a new surface, as it is likely to be less coordinated and tire more easily, the team said

“In order to protect horses from overload injury, it is important to avoid spending too long in any single exercise and not to repeat any single exercise too many times, especially when the horse is becoming tired,” said Walker. “At the extended trot in particular, there may be considerable forces on the limbs, so it is important that the horse is coordinated … it may be safer to avoid performing extended trot when a horse is getting tired at the end of a session.

Simply Horses Laminitis research update

Vets have announced plans to conduct a clinical trial evaluating an experimental drug that has shown promise in treating horses stricken with the debilitating hoof disease laminitis.

They have treated four horses suffering from laminitis with the investigational anti-inflammatory drug so far. They said that one horse experienced remission that has lasted for more than a year, and three others have shown some improvement. A paper on the first laminitis case has been accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed Journal of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia.

Alonso Guedes, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVA, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), School of Veterinary Medicine, plans to begin the clinical trial to assess the drug’s safety and establish a tolerable dose in the spring. Further clinical trials would be needed to establish the drug’s effectiveness as a laminitis treatment.

The experimental compound, known as t-TUCB, belongs to a group of anti-inflammatory compounds called sEH (soluble epoxide hydrolases) inhibitors. It stems from a discovery made more than 40 years ago by UC Davis entomology professor Bruce Hammock, PhD, while doing basic insect biology research. He and colleagues have identified a group of anti-inflammatory compounds, including the sEH inhibitors, that have proven to be effective in relieving inflammatory discomfort and pain related to nervous system disorders in mice and rats. Their work has been published in scientific journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Guedes noted that the safe management of laminitis-related pain is one of the biggest challenges for equine veterinarians. Often, euthanasia is the only humane alternative for alleviating pain and suffering in horses afflicted with the condition. Consequently, the survival rate for laminitis is estimated to be only 25%. Very few surviving horses return to their previous levels of activity, and laminitis often reappears.

Funding was provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the UC Davis Center for Equine Health.

Equine Dental Care

Looking after your horses teeth:

Nowadays it is recognised that horses teeth must, like our own teeth, be regularly examined.  Unlike our teeth, a horse’s teeth carry on growing and should naturally wear down as they eat.  However, they rarely wear down evenly and so need intervention to ensure the horse can eat properly, perform to their best and generally be comfortable.
Most of us have had toothache, know what it feels like to have a sharp point on a tooth, know how sore an ulcer is, etc.  But imagine having a bit in your mouth with one of the above problems.  We will trot off to our dentist – a professional, who has studied for years to obtain their dental degree.
A six monthly check up is recommended so all potential problems can be identified and remedied before serious pain and complications set in.  The best option is to get your veterinary surgeon to do the check up – and this can be conveniently carried out at vaccination time.  A veterinary surgeon can legally perform all aspects of equine dentistry – and most will have attended species specific veterinary dental courses.   They will also be fully insured to carry out the procedures.
In order for a thorough examination to be carried out it is often necessary to use sedation, either orally or via injection.  A gag will be used – it is impossible to examine the teeth at the back of the mouth without one!   The vet will sometimes wear a head torch – a horse’s teeth go a long way back and it’s a bit dark at the back! A head stand sometimes would help to keep the sedated horse in position– which as well as saving the owner/handler having to stand trying to hold the head up and still, also enables the vet to get a proper view.
Once this is in place the vet can carry out the examination, show the owner/handler any problems and then perform the necessary treatment.
Unfortunately, there are numerous people who call themselves ‘horse dentists’ or equine dental technicians (EDT’s) who are regularly examining and ‘treating’ horse’s teeth.  However, DEFRA are now trying to ensure that these people are properly qualified and their work regulated.  In order to qualify as a DEFRA approved EDT they have to pass a 2 day exam.   Even then they are restricted to the type of work they can perform, some of which must be carried out under the direct supervision of a qualified veterinary surgeon.

With the gag in place the powerfloat can be used by the vets to painlessly remove sharp edges on the horses teeth.

BEVA Congress

Hi, just a quick update that Paul Proctor and Charlotte Stedman recently attended the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Congress.  It was three days full of lectures and presentations.  Plus lots of exciting new products and procedures.  Watch this space for updates……….