Category: horses

Samples and tests – how they help your vet

Laboratory tests are used by vets to help them diagnose disease in sick animals. Increasingly they are also used as part of a routine health check to detect hidden disease before the development of obvious symptoms. This allows your horse to be treated earlier and more effectively. Tests may be used to show whether a... Read more »

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is an autologous biological product made from the horse's own blood. It can only be used in the same horse that has provided the blood sample. PRP contains a higher concentration of platelets than blood, and platelets are rich in various growth factors that benefit tissue healing. The idea behind using... Read more »

Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein (IRAP) therapy

IRAP stands for interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein, which is an anti-inflammatory product that the body produces. IRAP is known to counteract inflammatory damage in joints that is caused by osteoarthritis. IRAP can be manufactured from a horse's blood, which is processed in a laboratory, before it is injected into a joint of the same horse. What is... Read more »

Diagnostic tests

In order to reach a diagnosis when attending to your horse, your vet may need to take some samples such a blood, urine, skin scrapings, biopsies or faeces. If your horse requires further diagnostic tests more samples may be taken such as fluid from the lungs or the abdomen. But what happens to all these... Read more »

Diagnostic imaging

There are a variety of different imaging modalities used every day in equine veterinary practice. They are used to assess the type and severity of injury in both bone and soft tissue structures of the musculoskeletal system. Most equine practices have radiography and ultrasonography equipment available. Larger clinics and referral centres often have more advanced... Read more »

Complementary therapies

Some forms of alternative or complementary medicine such as osteopathy and physiotherapy are widely used in veterinary medicine alongside conventional treatment. However, horse owners are increasingly looking at other alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy to help with a wide variety of common complaints. What is osteoapthy? Osteopathy is an established science... Read more »


Anaesthesia is used for a variety of veterinary procedures, including surgical, diagnostic and dental procedures. Anaesthesia will ensure your horse is kept pain-free during these procedures. What is anaesthesia? Anaesthesia is defined as a loss of sensation. Anaesthesia will stop your horse from feeling pain and other sensations, and it can be given in various... Read more »

Travelling – safety first!

Transport of horses is a common practice, involving individuals and groups of animals over short, medium and long distances. When you travel with your horse, the most important thing is that you both arrive safely at your destination. Preparation before you travel will ensure you both travel safely and confidently. What sort of transport do... Read more »

Travelling – loading problems

The horse differs from other large domestic animals in that it may be transported many times in its lifetime. Successful transportation of horses requires awareness of the horses behavioural and physical needs. What might cause a horse to refuse loading? A number of factors associated with transport can make it a stressful experience for a... Read more »

Travelling – bad weather conditions

Travelling with your horse in bad weather conditions should be avoided. If, however it is unavoidable, e.g. in the event of a medical emergency, then your main priorities should be to maintain your horse's health and safety. Planning ahead is the name of the game! What will I need to consider? Travelling with your horse in... Read more »

Taking your horse abroad

Transport of horses is a common practice, involving groups of horses over long distances. Transporting your horse abroad is a very complicated and sometimes very traumatic experience. Advanced preparation is vital for a smooth and stress-free journey. The most important thing is that you both arrive safely at your destination. What options are there for... Read more »

Equine passports

If you are unsure about the requirements for equine passports then read on. Passports contain important information about your horse, including details of who owns the horse, identification (including identification number) and much more. Passport regulations The following regulations are now in force: Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2009 Horse Identification (Scotland) Regulations 2009 Equine Identification (Wales) Regulations... Read more »

Sweet itch – an itchy business

Sweet itch is the most common cause of itching in horses leading to hair loss, especially from the mane and tail, with crusting and scab formation. Preventing your horse from developing sweet itch can be challenging, but regular checks and the use of preventative measures can ensure you are one step ahead. Prevention is definitely... Read more »

Rain scald

Rain scald is similar to mud fever at is involves infection of the skin with the same bacteria, however it isn't normally as complicated a problem to deal with as mud fever, it is easy to treat, and the outcome is generally much better. What is rain scald? Rain scald, also known as rain rot,... Read more »

Proud flesh

Wounds should be treated as soon as possible because untreated wounds are more likely to become infected or develop excessive proud flesh, preventing wound healing. What is proud flesh? Proud flesh (granulation tissue) forms when an excessive amount of new tissue is produced when a wound is healing. Proud flesh usually occurs when the skin... Read more »

Mud fever

Preventing your horse from infection with mud fever can be challenging, but twice-daily checks can ensure you are one step ahead. Prevention is definitely the name of the game! What is mud fever? Mud fever is a common condition of the lower limbs, especially the back legs, where the skin becomes inflamed and scabby with oozing... Read more »

Lice infestation

Also known as pediculosis and nits, lice infestation is a parasitic skin disease in horses. Biting and sucking lice can infest a variety of hosts, including cats, dogs, horses and people. Lice are host-specific, for example dog lice only affect dogs, and horse lice only affect horses! This means that humans can't be infested with... Read more »

Common skin problems in the horse

Although the skin is the most visible of the horse's body structures it is also the most easily overlooked! The skin provides a strong barrier to challenges from outside the body and plays an important role as part of the immune system. It also helps control body temperature and makes vitamin D. In certain parts of... Read more »

Whistling and roaring

Many horses of all types and ages have been observed to make an abnormal noise upon exercise. These horses and ponies are often referred to as whistlers or roarers. The noise produced can vary from barely audible to a loud roaring noise and is due to turbulent airflow through an abnormal airway. This finding is... Read more »

Respiratory problems in your horse – not a good wheeze!

Horses and ponies can be susceptible to a number of conditions that affect the respiratory tract. The causes of these can be very varied - from infections and allergies to anatomical defects. The seriousness of the conditions also varies: some conditions will resolve without veterinary treatment but others are life-threatening. Many respiratory conditions lead to... Read more »

Recurrent airway obstruction (RAO)

Recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), previously known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and commonly knows as heaves or broken wind, is a common chronic respiratory disorder seen in horses and ponies. In less severe cases the problem may go undetected, but may worsen over time if not treated. If exacerbated by high exposure to moulds... Read more »

Choke – oesophageal obstruction

Every owner will at some time have to deal with an emergency involving their horse, so it is essential to know how to deal with such emergencies before they arise. When you think your horse is unwell or in pain make sure you call your vet immediately. If your horse chokes it should be treated... Read more »


Horses can suffer from a number of viral diseases, infection with Rotavirus is just one of many. If you are considering breeding your horse you should be aware of this disease and how it can affect breeding status as well as your potential foal's general health and well-being. Rotavirus is the most commonly diagnosed cause... Read more »

Preparing your mare for breeding

There are many factors to consider before you breed from your mare. It is important to consider the costs, time and expertise required to breed a mare and look after a foal. Where do I start if I want to breed from my mare? Decide whether you are happy for your mare to go away... Read more »

Pregnancy in the mare – health and well-being

As with human pregnancy, the first few days are the most critical. During the first month, there is a 10-15% chance that the embryo will be resorbed. Early embryonic loss can be caused by the following problems: stress illness uterine infection hormonal abnormalities twins Following conception, the pregnancy can be confirmed by ultrasound or transrectal... Read more »

Neonatal problems

When your mare is having a foal it can be a very stressful time for you and the mare. It is important that you know what to expect so that you can pick up any problems early on. Foals can become sick very quickly so it important to watch them closely and consult your vet... Read more »


Sometimes, unfortunately, a foal needs to be fostered on to another mare; this can be a difficult time for all concerned. The main reasons why this might be necessary are; the mare is very ill or dies shortly after giving birth, the mare rejects the foal or the mare does not have sufficient milk to... Read more »

Foaling – what you need to know

Breeding from your mare is both an exciting and anxious time. It is important that you are able to recognise the start of foaling (labour) and its different stages. You can then enjoy the experience, reassured that you know what to do if problems occur. How long is pregnancy? In horses the average pregnancy (gestation... Read more »

Failure of passive transfer

When your mare is having a foal it can be a very stressful time for you and the mare. It is important that you know what to expect so that you can pick up any problems early on. Foals can become sick very quickly so it important to watch them closely and consult your vet... Read more »


Dourine, also known as covering sickness or genital glanders, is a serious condition that can result in mortality; the mortality rate is thought to be over 50%. No vaccine is available, therefore prevention is extremely important. What is dourine? Dourine is a venereal disease caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma eqiperdum. The infection is sexually transmitted,... Read more »

Contagious equine metritis (CEM)

In the UK, isolation of the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism is notifiable by law. This is a statutory requirement under the Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987, and any positive samples must be reported by the testing laboratory to a Divisional Veterinary Manager (DVM) of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) who... Read more »


Castration is one of the most commonly performed equine surgical procedures. Most operations go well and wounds heal uneventfully, with your horse returning to work within a month of the operation. There are various options to consider before your horse has the operation and you will need to speak to your vet to decide what... Read more »

Bladder rupture

Rupture of the urinary bladder is one of the most common conditions of the urinary tract affecting new born foals and is a potentially life-threatening condition so early recognition is essential. What is bladder rupture? Traditionally bladder rupture has been thought to be present most frequently in the first 24-36 hours after parturition (giving birth);... Read more »


Abortion is the term used to describe the loss of a foetus before term, in the horse this means that the mare loses the foal before 300 days. After 300 days the loss of the foal tends to be termed still-birth, prematurity or dysmaturity. If the abortion occurs very early in the pregnancy (less than... Read more »

Obesity – the fat horse

Much like their human counterparts, many of today's horses are working less and eating more (both in quantity and type of food), and as a result they are becoming fat. Obesity is a serious emerging problem in the domestic horse. Obesity involves serious disease implications as well as the more obvious problem of reduced athletic... Read more »

Nutrition – keeping your horse on top form

The combination of the right diet and correct workload should keep your horse in good condition. A horse's condition will vary depending on it's breed, age and workload. Before you can begin to decide what to feed your horse, you need to check if he is already in good condition or if he needs to... Read more »

Feeding the young horse

Feeding the foal or young horse can be tricky and will depend on individual circumstances, compliance of the mare and quality of the mare's milk. Nutrient requirements of young horses are extremely high, compared to those of adult horses, owing to their very fast growth rate. Protein requirements are high as a result of the... Read more »

Feeding the older horse

Horses are living longer mainly due to their evolution from working animals to pleasure animals and advances in equine medicine. As the horse gets older various physiological changes occur that require careful management. When is a horse considered to be old or 'geriatric'? When a horse reaches 20 years of age, it is considered to... Read more »

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS)

This condition describes horses that are obese, have insulin resistance due to increased tissue production of cortisol, and have recurrent laminitis. The disease has received different names in the past, particularly Peripheral Cushings Syndrome, but the most appropriate term is Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) This condition describes horses that are obese,... Read more »

Equine grass sickness (EGS)

Grass sickness affects the horse's nervous system and is often fatal. The disease occurs almost exclusively in horses with access to grass but the cause is unknown. Until the cause is known, it is difficult to give sound advice regarding prevention, however, the more you know about the disease, the better your chances of preventing... Read more »

Body condition scoring

Body condition scoring is used to evaluate a horse's general condition or fat cover. Body condition scoring enables you to keep an eye on your horse's weight over the changing annual seasons and can alert you to any change in condition which may indicate the need for a change in diet or an indication of... Read more »

West Nile Virus – what owners should know

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a viral disease previously only seen in Africa, western Asia, and southern Europe. Now it can also be found in the Middle East, Mediterranean region of Europe and the US. Prevention is the name of the game, so make sure you are one step ahead and protect your horse from... Read more »

Tetanus – ‘lockjaw’

Horses are susceptible to a number of serious infectious diseases, e.g. tetanus (lockjaw) and influenza (flu), fortunately there are vaccines available for some of these common conditions. What is tetanus? Tetanus can be a fatal disease, caused by the neurotoxin of Clostridium tetani, which is found in soil and enters the horse's bloodstream, usually via an... Read more »

Strangles (Streptococcus equi infection)

Strangles in a highly contagious infectious disease and can be serious or occasionally even fatal as a result of late diagnosis. Know what to look out for and you will almost certainly avoid the unnecessary suffering of your horse and others. What is strangles? Strangles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by a bacteria... Read more »

Pinworms – an unwanted irritation

Although pinworms are not generally considered harmful, they are a nuisance and irritating for the horse. If your horse is particularly itchy around its tail and anal region then it might be suffering from a pinworm burden. What are pinworms? Pinworms (Oxyuris equi) are small, white-gray, roundworms that live in the large intestine of the... Read more »

Equine viral arteritis (EVA)

Equine viral arteritis (EVA) is a contagious disease of equids (horses, donkeys, mules) caused by equine arteritis virus (EAV) that is present in many equine populations worldwide. The disease, referred to in the past by a variety of clinically descriptive terms, is believed to have afflicted horses in Western Europe for centuries. Although not considered life-threatening in... Read more »

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM)

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a common neurologic disease in horses in the USA. It is not generally seen in the UK, except in imported horses. What is EPM? EPM is a disease caused by infection with the protozoa Sarcocystis neurona or Neospora hughesi, but it is more commonly caused by N. hughesi which is carried by opossums in North... Read more »

Equine Influenza – ‘flu’

Horses are susceptible to a number of serious infectious diseases, eg influenza (flu) and tetanus (lockjaw). Fortunately there are vaccines available for some of these common conditions. What is equine influenza? Equine influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the upper and lower respiratory tract of the horse caused by different strains of... Read more »

Equine infectious anaemia (EIA)

Equine infectious anaemia (EIA) is a disease of horses, mules and donkeys. Also called swamp fever, this disease has been present since the early 1800s, and has been reported worldwide. It remains a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in endemic areas to this day and the disease carries significant economic considerations. What causes the... Read more »

Equine herpesvirus (EHV)

Horses can suffer from a number of viral diseases, EHV is just one of many. If you are considering breeding your horse you should be aware of this disease and how it can affect breeding status as well and your horse's general health and well-being. EHV is the most commonly diagnosed cause of infectious abortion in... Read more »