As many of you will be aware, outbreaks of equine influenza continue to be reported throughout the UK. The number of individual cases is still growing on a monthly basis and the total number of reported cases in 2019 is now over 200. The majority of cases have been in unvaccinated horses and the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is calling on owners to maintain their vigilance and ensure vaccinations are up to date. In accordance with current guidance from the BEF and AHT, Oakham Veterinary Hospital Equine continue to strongly recommend booster vaccinations for any horses that have not been vaccinated in the last 6 months. For many of those who responded quickly to the initial outbreak in February 2019, now is the time for a booster.

It is thought that the continuing high number of positive diagnoses is due to the increased movement and mixing of horses that typically occurs during this time of year, with these horses then returning to their home yards and mixing with unvaccinated individuals.

At Oakham Veterinary Hospital Equine, we recognise that we have a large number of clients competing in many different disciplines and each governing body has different vaccination rules in place. In light of that, please find below a guide to each governing bodies current guidelines.

FEI – Horses must have been vaccinated within 6 months + 21 days of arriving at the event. Horses must not have been vaccinated within 7 days of arriving at an event venue.

British Eventing – Horses must have had a booster within 6 months of the event. Vaccinations must not have been given on the day of the event, but the day before is allowed.

British Dressage – Boosters no more than 1 year apart, no vaccine within 7 days of competing. Six monthly boosters are strongly recommended.

British Showjumping – Boosters must be no more than 1 year apart.

Pony Club – For all competitions at area level and above – Boosters must be no more than 1 year apart but 6 monthly boosters are recommended. Rallies/Camp/training – vaccination policy specific to venue.

Riding Club – Boosters no more than 1 year apart. Vaccinations are not permitted within 7 days prior to competition.

British Horseracing Authority – Horses must have been vaccinated within the last 8 months. There is currently a one month grace period but this will be removed as of January 1, 2020.

*** Please note, these guidelines are correct as of June 1, 2019 and are subject to change. Please check with your regulatory body before competition. ***

If you would like to make an appointment or book a visit for a 6 monthly booster, please contact our reception team.

Please see the attachments below for the latest ''mini articles'' from the REACT to colic campaign. There are a total of 9 articles, the first 3 of which are produced here and the rest will follow over the next two months.

Download this file (Article 1 'What is colic' FINAL.pdf)Article 1 'What is colic' FINAL.pdf[Article 1 - What is Colic]461 kB
Download this file (Article 2 'Types of colic' FINAL.pdf)Article 2 'Types of colic' FINAL.pdf[Article 2 - Types of Colic]468 kB
Download this file (Article 3 'Recognising colic' FINAL.pdf)Article 3 'Recognising colic' FINAL.pdf[Article 3 - Recognising Colic]1008 kB

Congratulations to Julia Dubuc who yesterday received news that she has passed her exams and is now a board certified surgeon with American College of Veterinary Surgeons. This means she is a recognised specialist in large animal surgery. A huge amount of hard work has gone into achieving this goal and our whole team are very proud of her accomplishment.

In accordance with current guidance from the AHT, Oakham Veterinary Hospital Equine are recommending booster vaccinations for any horses that have not been vaccinated in the last 6 months.

We strongly encourage owners to be extremely vigilant and aware of the clinical signs of flu which include harsh, dry coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy and an increase in temperature (>38.5°c). These clinical signs may be mild and not all horses will present with all of these. If you are concerned please isolate the horse immediately and contact us as soon as possible. We can visit the horse and take a swab and blood sample and send it for testing, free of laboratory charges, to the Animal Health Trust’s equine influenza surveillance scheme which is funded by the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

Equine flu is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the equine influenza virus. The virus is spread from horse to horse via respiratory droplets by direct contact as well as coughing and via indirect contact where appropriate biosecurity is not being followed. The virus relies on this transmission to new horses to survive and one of the most notable features of flu is the very quick spread of clinical signs in groups of horses and its ability to spread large distances in the air. We encourage owners to consider existing biosecurity arrangements in your yard. Horses that have been vaccinated recently should not be travelled/ compete for at least 7 days, as this is when your horses immunity is at its strongest. It is important to note that some vaccinated horses have still tested positive for flu but vaccinations ensure that the symptoms are mild. Our advice is that any horse that has a raised temperature (>38.5°c) has a at least a week’s rest for every day they have a temperature.

Please see the factsheet below for further details.

Download this file (What to do with equine flu.pdf)Equine Flu factsheet[ ]414 kB

Oakham Veterinary Hospital Equine are one of 62 veterinary practices across the UK who have become Vet REACT Colic Champions, in a new scheme coordinated by The British Horse Society and The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham. Here at OVH Equine, we will be working closely with both organisations over the next year to share information and advice from the REACT colic campaign on how to recognise and react to signs of colic as quickly as possible to give your horse the best chance of recovering.

Colic is the most common veterinary emergency in the horse. Most cases are mild and can be resolved with simple treatment, but a small percentage are critical or life-threatening. These critical cases will need rapid decision-making by both the vet and owner.

The REACT colic campaign includes a poster of the most common signs of colic, and ten fact sheets on colic ‘essentials’:

1. What is colic?

2. Recognising signs of colic

3. Reducing the risk of colic

4. Emergency decision-making

5. How to take a horse’s temperature, pulse and breathing rate

6. Waiting for the vet to arrive

7. The vet’s examination of the horse

8. Rectal examination

9. Nasogastric intubation

10. What happens at referral?

Over the next year, we will be holding two talks on the key REACT messages, and also sharing information through our website and Facebook page. The free REACT packs and guides will be available in our reception areas and also available at our client evenings, so please drop in and pick up some copies.

 The Nottingham colic project started in 2012, to generate evidence to build the REACT campaign. OVH Equine were involved from the start. Our practice contributed to a large study that generated new information on how often different types of colic occur, and how to recognise critical cases early. We are delighted to be continuing our involvement, and to be part of this new initiative to spread the REACT colic messages.

The REACT campaign provides essential information to help you understand the different causes of colic, how to recognise colic early, and how to plan ahead to make sure you give your horse the best chance of recovering. We look forward to sharing this information with you and making sure you are prepared. 

The final phase of our equine hospital redevelopment is well and truly underway.  The steels are up on the extension which will house our CT scanning room and the internal refit of our surgical areas is in progress.  

The initial expansion started last year with the completion of a purpose-built stud barn offering specialised mare and foal stabling with a self-contained stallion block, teasing room, lab facilities and semen storage area.  This meant we could use existing stabling for the creation of a residential area for the Nottingham Vet School students who are on rotation with us.  It also allowed us to redevelop the first barn into three brand new consult rooms, equine client waiting area, scanning room and x-ray suite complete with a new gantry x-ray which provides better image quality and accessibility.

We hope that Spring 2019 will see the completion of our CT suite, which will be used by both the equine and small animal departments and is a new service that the Partners are very excited to offer.

Thank you to all of our clients for bearing with us through the disruption and inconvenience that the building work has at times caused.  We are finally seeing the benefits from the updated outpatient facilities and will continue to do so over the next few months.

From October 2020 it will be compulsory for all horses, ponies and donkeys in the UK to be microchipped, have a valid passport and be registered on the Central Equine Database.

This extends current legislation which already denotes that any equine born since July 2009 should have an ID chip.  Those older horses now falling into the new legislation will have a two year grace period after which the law can be enforced with a £200 on the spot fine.  This extra time will hopefully allow horse owners to combine microchipping with a routine visit to, or from, their vet, thus minimising the cost.

The aim of the legislation is to prevent abuse and improve welfare across the equine population in this country.  It will be easier to reunite lost or stolen horses with their owners and will provide a completely accurate way of identifying any horse or pony.

We provide a full ID chip and passport service which can be done in the hospital or at your yard, please phone our equine office on 01572 722647 for more information. To find out more about the legislation and its aims please click here.


On Wednesday 29th August 2018 OVH Equine held our annual referring vets CPD day at The George Hotel and Business Centre in Stamford.

Nineteen delegates enjoyed a day of talks covering surgery, imaging and medicine.  This was followed by a trip up to Burghley Horse Trials to watch the first horse inspection.  Many thanks to all those that attended, we hope to see you again next year!

Alex Knott    MA VetMB MRCVS

It's that time of year again....the shoes are off and the hunters are out in the field enjoying their holidays. For injury recovery a long holiday may be advantageous.  But for those horses with arthritic changes, staying in light work is better for joint health and the overall well-being of the horse.

Osteoarthritis (damaged cartilage) occurs due to trauma. The joints become swollen and painful which often manifests itself as lameness.  In more severe cases there may be a reduced range of movement of the joints making the horse more vulnerable to injury.

From a veterinary perspective we have an extensive armoury of treatments; from targeting specific joints with intra-articular injections, to treating multiple joints with systemic medications.  Intra-articular steroids are relatively cheap and still the most effective treatment for reducing inflammation within a joint.  More elegant and expensive therapeutics have recently come to the market, from biological products (PRP and IRAP), to shock absorbing plastics (Arthramid).  Which particular treatment is appropriate for your horse depends on a multitude of factors and should be discussed with your vet.

Atypical Myopathy is a frequently fatal condition caused by severe muscle damage.  The condition, thought to be caused by ingestion of sycamore seeds seems to be associated with specific weather conditions particularly found in autumn.

Horses suffering from atypical myopathy have been found to have high levels of the toxin Hypoglycin A, found in the seeds of sycamore trees.  The toxin prevents the normal use of fats as energy by muscle cells, causing build up within the cells and destruction of the normal muscle function resutling in complete dependence on carbohydrates as an energy source.

Unfortunately, once clinical signs are evident the disease is usually in the advanced stages and there is no curative treatment at present.  Survival rates are between 20-30% with intensive care which usually requires transport to a hospital facility.  However, in some cases transport is not recommended or possible due to the degree of muscle damage and you should be guided by your vet's advice in this instance.

Please see the attached fact sheet for more information on symptoms, treatment and preventative measures.

Download this file (Atypical Myopathy fact sheet 2018.pdf)Atypical Myopathy fact sheet 2018.pdf[ ]140 kB

A new technique that uses ultrasound to predict a racehorse’s likelihood of a return to racing after a tendon injury has been developed by researchers at the University of Nottingham, Oakham Veterinary Hospital Equine and the world-famous Hong Kong Jockey Club. 

In this unique collaboration, the team has created a scoring system for grading tendon injuries in racehorses when they first occur and used this in a large study to determine which ultrasound features will predict whether or not the horse will successfully race again after rehabilitation. 

The new system will significantly improve racehorse welfare in both the short and long term. It will enable vets and racehorse trainers to make early and informed decisions on a horse’s future – whether to prescribe rest and recovery before racing again, rehabilitation for another career or immediate retirement.

The researchers have also been working with a leading veterinary ultrasound company, BCF Technology, to develop an App vets can use to record their ultrasound findings using the new scoring system. 

Horse racing is an ancient and global sport with thoroughbred racing a multi-million pound industry that has been dubbed ‘the Sport of Kings’. There are around 14,000 horses currently in training in the UK alone1. Not all will end up competing on the 60 racecourses throughout Britain but of those who do a relatively small percentage will suffer a tendon injury. A high proportion of these will not be fit to race again and will have to be retrained for an alternative career. 

Standard treatment for tendon injury in a racehorse is the 3 ‘Equine Rs’ – Rest (until able to race again), Rehabilitation (toward an alternative career) or Retirement. In the new study, published in TBC, researchers from Oakham Equine Hospital in the East Midlands, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Nottingham Veterinary School developed a statistical model which related ultrasound changes in 469 racehorses when the  tendon injury first occurred to the likelihood of that horse making a successful return to racing (defined as completing at least 5 races after rehabilitation).

The data used in the study are unique in that the Hong Kong Jockey Club has standardised recording of clinical records for all racehorses over many years. All racehorses train and race on the same track, live together in the same racing yard and are attended to by the same vets. These characteristics enabled the researchers to perform a large-scale cohort study with long-term follow up of each injured racehorse. Their predictive model found that clinicians should concentrate on two main characteristics of the tendon injury, each easily assessed by ultrasound at first presentation; the cross-sectional area of the lesion and the extent of disruption to the normally highly-ordered pattern of tendon fibres. 

Dr Rafael Alzola, equine surgery resident at the Nottingham Veterinary School and Oakham Veterinary Hospital, said: “Ultrasound is a quick and easy method of assessing tendon injuries, widely available across veterinary practices. The scoring system makes evidence-based decision making on long term outcomes feasible and accessible to equine veterinary practitioners.” 

Professor Chris Riggs, Head Vet at the Hong Kong Jockey Club added: “Decisions on future careers for racehorses have to be carefully considered by the horse’s owner, trainer and vet, working together. This study is important from a welfare perspective, as it provides the information to help them make decisions which are best for the horse’s long term welfare, as soon as the injury occurs.” 

Professor of Veterinary Surgery at the Nottingham Veterinary School, Sarah Freeman, said: “We have worked with leading ultrasound company BCF to develop an App based on the scoring system. This will help develop future research studies so similar work can be done for injuries in horses competing in other disciplines.” 

The Visits ToDo App produced by BCF Technology gives veterinary surgeons and technicians the tool to record animal health and diagnostics in one place while they are out in the field. More details are available here.

Full research paper: Ultrasonographic-based predictive factors influencing successful return to racing after superficial digital flexor tendon injuries in flat racehorses: A retrospective cohort study in 469 Thoroughbred racehorses in Hong Kong. 

R. Alzola, C. Easter C.M. Riggs, D.S. Gardner and S.L. Freeman

1British Horse Racing Authority.

cottesmore hunt ranksboro 25Nov14Thorn penetration by blackthorn is a common injury in horses hunting over country with fields separated by hedges containing blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) bushes. This type of injury is treated at Oakham Veterinary Hospital on a regular basis throughout the hunting season due to our proximity to the Leicestershire packs. As a result, we have developed a huge amount of experience and a high level of expertise in the treatment of these injuries.