Routine and preventative healthcare such as vaccinations, dentistry and worm control are essential components of responsible horse ownership.
Routine vaccinations are important regardless of age, and whether your horse competes, travels or stays at home - we can advise on requirements depending on your individual situation.
Any horse who leaves home or mixes with other horses should be vaccinated against equine influenza (Flu), and all horses without exception should be vaccinated against Tetanus, which is a potentially fatal disease.
There are a number of gastrointestinal worms which affect horses, ponies and donkeys frequently within the UK. We can advise on a worming programme dependent on your horse and situation, and generally recommend faecal worm egg counts and tapeworm saliva tests to determine if deworming is required.
Kessock Equine Vets offer a range of reproductive services to clients wishing to put their mare in foal.
Recommended for AI or natural service at the start of the breeding season to help identify any potential problems and test for venereal diseases if required.
We offer AI packages for breeding mares using AI with chilled semen. All procedures are done at the clinic. Please contact us for more information as to what is included.
We recommend ultrasound examination for pregnancy at day 14 or 15 following covering or insemination. Later in pregnancy blood tests can also be used for diagnosis.
Ultrasound scans are used to detect what stage of the reproductive cycle the mare is in, and medicines can be used to bring her into season as appropriate.
Examination of The New-born Foal
We recommend examination of new-born foals and the mare's placenta. We also advise blood sampling foals at around 12 hours old to ensure they have received sufficient antibodies from the mare's colostrum.
Castrations are normally done in the standing sedated animal at age 6 - 24 months, but may need to be done at the clinic under general anaesthetic for older animals, Shetlands, donkeys, or "Rigs", where there is an undescended testicle.
It is vital that a vet performs a pre-castration check to ensure both testicles are present in the scrotum and the animal is healthy enough to withstand the procedure. The type of castration required will also be discussed at this appointment. Your horse or pony will also be checked after the castration at no extra charge on the next available zone day.
We recommend castrations are performed in the spring or autumn months in order to avoid the flies.
The surgical procedure varies slightly depending on the age and size of animal, however normally an “open castration” is performed, and the wounds are left open to drain. For more information on care after castration and potential problems, please take a look at our castration information page.
We provide a comprehensive dental service, ranging from routine rasping with power or manual tools, wolf tooth and cheek tooth extractions, x-rays, and treatment of diastema and periodontal disease. Most routine dental work can be carried out at your own premises, however, for more advanced procedures your horse may need to come to the equine clinic.
Signs of Dental Problems
Signs of dental problems are varied and include: poor performance, resistance to contact or head shaking, difficulty in chewing and dropping of food (quidding), weight loss, nasal discharge, lymph node enlargement and foul-smelling breath.
Severe dental disease can exist for a long period of time with no outward clinical signs, so regular examination of your horse's mouth every 6 - 12 months allows early diagnosis and treatment of dental abnormalities before they develop into more serious problems.
Common problems identified include
Sharp enamel points - These usually develop on the outside of the upper cheek teeth and in the inside of the lower cheek teeth. They occur in almost every horse fed on a modern diet and can cause sores on the cheeks and tongue.
Hooks the upper front cheek teeth can lie in front of the opposing lower cheek teeth resulting in overgrowths that point downwards. The lower back cheek teeth can lie behind the opposing upper teeth, resulting in overgrowths that point upwards at the back of the mouth.
Diastema this is the name given to gaps between the teeth, which can result in very painful disease of the gums and ultimately tooth root abscess and tooth loss.
Caries is dental decay that can lead to tooth root abscess and fracture of the tooth. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Endoscopy and Gastroscopy
Endoscopy of the larynx, trachea and guttural pouches can be performed at the surgery to evaluate the structures and function of the upper airway, and take samples from the trachea (tracheal wash) and lower airways (Broncho-alveolar lavage).
Gastric ulcers are a common under-diagnosed condition in horses and can cause poor performance, poor condition, weight loss and recurrent colic. Some studies have shown ulcers to occur in 50% of leisure horse and at increasing frequency in performance horses.
Gastric ulcers can be diagnosed using a 3-metre-long video endoscope which is passed through the nose, and down the oesophagus into the stomach to evaluate the integrity of the lining.
Ulcers can range from mild to very severe and are graded accordingly. They can be effectively treated, and recurrence prevented by management strategies.
Treating ulcers can result in a dramatic improvement of your horse's behaviour and performance.
If you suspect your horse could have ulcers or have any concerns please contact us for more information.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)
Extra-Corporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT), a treatment adapted from human medicine, involves the generation of pressure waves which are then directed towards the damaged structure via a hand held probe. Shockwave has a direct analgesic effect, increases blood flow and stimulates healing.
Extra-Corporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is most commonly used for high suspensory ligament injuries, back problems, splints, non-healing wounds, bone spavin and navicular.
The therapy is usually performed on the standing, sedated horse and can be done at home or at the clinic. Different energy levels, frequency and number of shocks are used depending on the injury, but the treatment normally takes around 20 minutes and is repeated on 3 - 4 occasions two weeks apart.
Pippa Peacock is an official Measurer of the Joint Measurement Board.
The Joint Measurement Board was established in 1934 to run a national scheme for the measurement of the height of horses and ponies for the purpose of description and classification of horses and ponies for competition.
Key features of the scheme
- All horses and ponies must have at least one Annual Certificate before they can have a Full Certificate.
- Annual certificates are issued to animals aged 4, 5 and 6 years old, or to any animal over 7 which is being measured for the first time. Full certificates are issued to animals aged 7 or over which have had at least one previous annual measurement.
- Measurements can be done at any time of the year but Annual Certificates will expire on the 31st December following the last measurement.
- Measurements are carried out by Official Measurers.
- Measurements are carried out on registered measuring pads with shoes removed. We have an official pad at Kessock Equine Vets in our clinic.
- Consecutive measurements must be done by different Measurers.
- The Measurer for a Full Certificate must be from a different veterinary practice from the Measurer for the last Annual Certificate.
- The animal’s passport must be available at the time of measurement, so please ensure it accompanies the animal on the day. Also all animals being measured must have a microchip inserted. This can be done at the time of measuring if required.
- A re-measurement procedure can be used to settle doubts about accuracy.
There is a fee of £85 in 2016 to cover the measurement procedure and issuing of certificate. This can be paid in one of two ways:
- By cheque on the day of measurement. The cheque should be made payable to JMB Ltd.
- By credit/debit card - this must be pre-paid online before coming to our clinic. We also require you to bring proof of payment in the form of a printed receipt or an image on your phone. We will then note the payment details and enclose them with the JMB form.
For further and more full information about the Joint Measurement Board and its panel of Official Measurers, click here.
What is lameness?
Lameness is a common problem in horses, ponies and donkeys, regardless of their age, size, and breed and whether they are ridden for pleasure, competition or simply kept as pets. Lameness occurs due to pain or restriction during movement, and varies in severity, sometimes only manifesting as poor performance or resentment of certain movements.
Diagnosis of lameness
Evaluation for lameness is best carried out at the Kessock Equine Clinic where we have a designated trot up area and an arena for assessment on soft ground on the lunge or under saddle. The clinic also provides a clean area for sterile procedures, stocks and on site digital radiography and ultrasonography.
Our equine vets are experienced in lameness diagnosis and treatment and regularly attend training courses across the UK and Europe to ensure they are up to date with the latest treatments and information. Internationally recognised specialist consultant veterinarians also visit the clinic on a regular basis.
Lameness Evaluation Procedures
After a full clinical exam and lameness assessment, evaluation with hoof testers and flexion tests are usually performed to try to localise the area of pain. Unless there is an obvious area of abnormality, nerve blocks are normally performed which involves infusion of a local anaesthetic around a nerve to desensitise the structures below the level of the injection. To further localise the area of pain, local anaesthetic can also be injected into synovial structures – joints and tendon sheaths. Once the lameness has been localised the area in question needs to be imaged using x-rays, ultrasound or both. Further specialist imaging such as MRI or Scintigraphy (Bone Scanning) can be arranged if required.
Once the cause of lameness has been determined, our vets can advise on the most appropriate treatment and management for the condition. We offer joint medications, shockwave therapy, Equidronate (Tildren), PRP (platelet rich plasma) and stem cell therapy, joint supplements and controlled rehabilitation exercise programs.
We also work alongside chartered veterinary physiotherapists and experienced farriers for a multifactorial approach to treatment.
Kessock Equine Vets offer Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma. These biological products are regenerative medicines used as appropriate in the treatment of tendon, ligament and joint disease.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy uses cutting edge technology, founded on the pioneering work of Professor Roger Smith and his colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College. It is primarily used in tendon and ligament injuries and results in a better functional repair as well as reducing re-injury rate. Research has shown that it is the best way to treat injuries of the superficial digital flexor tendon.
The procedure involves bone marrow being aspirated from the sternum of the injured horse, and then in the laboratory, identification and expansion of mesenchymal stem cells. 10 million of these stem cells are then injected into the core lesion of the injured tendon or ligament, using ultrasound guidance.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet-rich plasma or PRP, is obtained after blood taken from the horse is put through a special centrifugation process. This is a quick process, and the product of centrifugation can be injected into the damaged tendon or ligament on the same day. The product has a high concentration of platelets which are activated by contact with damaged tissue, and act by releasing growth factors to stimulate the healing process and decrease inflammation. It is most commonly used in the treatment of suspensory ligament lesions.
Pre-Purchase Exams (Vettings)
We strongly recommend that before buying a new horse, you think about a pre-purchase exam (vetting), in order to detect any abnormalities and determine their suitability for intended purpose.
Our experienced vets perform pre-purchase examinations following the BEVA/RCVS guidelines.
If necessary, further diagnostic tests such as x-rays, ultrasonography and endoscopy can be performed.
Both 2 stage and 5 stage vettings and vettings for insurance can be carried out, please call us to ask for further details.
We can also recommend vets across the UK and in Ireland, if you are purchasing outside of the Highlands.