Equine vets and horse-owners will have access to the latest research and resources on common emergency conditions in horses thanks to a new website launched today.

 VetReact has been set up by an equine research group at The University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. The team hopes the new site will be the ‘go-to’ resource for the latest evidence-based advice and information on clinical best practice in horse medicine.

 VetReact adds to the current national campaign by the Nottingham Vet School and British Horse Society – REACT Now to Beat Colic – which is helping horse owners spot the early signs of colic and seek early diagnosis and treatment.

Launching the website, Dr John Burford said: “Colic in horses continues to be one of the most dangerous conditions in the animal. It accounts for a third of veterinary call-outs. At least one in ten of these cases may become critical and up 80% of these end in the death of the horse.

 “The VetReact website presents the results of the most recent research as resources for vets, with links to the original sources of information. We have focused on the primary assessment of horses showing signs of colic and how to spot critical cases at this early stage. The website has been developed as a result of interviews and surveys of vets in practice on how they go about finding research-based evidence to help them in their work.”

Dr Alex Knott, a partner at Oakham Veterinary Hospital said: “We see a large number of colic cases both through visits out to owners, and referred into our hospital for surgery. This initiative will help vets in practice by providing resources which are easily accessible for vets out on the road, and helping vets make the decisions to refer critical cases as rapidly as possible, giving them the best chance of survival.”

 Resources available on VetReact include information on:

  • The most common clinical signs of colic
  • The essential components of history-taking and physical examination
  • When different diagnostic tests should and shouldn’t be used
  • How to differentiate critical cases on the first examination.

Recommendations which have been generated through multi-disciplinary workshops and online surveys with vets and horse owners with experience of colic.

The website places a strong emphasis on safety considerations, and stresses that the information offers ‘recommendations’ not ‘rules’, which should be considered and applied by veterinary practitioners in the context of each individual case.

The Nottingham project group includes Miss Isabella Wild, Dr John Burford, Dr Adelle Bowden, Professor Mark Bowen, Professor Gary England and Professor Sarah Freeman. The VetReact website has been developed based on work done by research student, Isabella Wild, on how vets access evidence in practice, and has been supported by funding from World Horse Welfare.

Dr Roly Owers, Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, said: “Colic is a really significant equine health and welfare issue and vets play a fundamental role in bringing about a prompt resolution.  World Horse Welfare is pleased to support this innovative work to help bring practical advice to practicing vets.

The website will continue to grow and will include hard-copy resources to download and print, as well as videos and an App in the future.  

A good de-worming strategy is an important part of your horse's general healthcare plan.  A high worm burden may predispose your horse to ill health, weight loss, poor condition, diarrhoea and most seriously, colic.  The traditional approach of treating horses for worms at set intervals every three months is promoting 'resistance' amongst the worm population.  There are no new classes of wormer currently under development, so it is important that we update our thinking when it comes to best practice for worm control.  Strategic worming uses worm egg counts to assess whether your horse actually needs worming.

Oakham Veterinary Hospital is now able to offer treatment of equine melanoma with Oncept® vaccine.

Melanomas are tumours most commonly seen in mature grey horses on the skin, primarily of the head, prepuce and perineal region, but growths can also develop in internal organs. The majority of melanomas grow slowly causing few problems however in cases where they do become large they can interfere with vital body functions. Surgery to remove melanomas can sometimes be an option but to the proximity to many vital structures.

The Oncept® vaccine was developed to treat melanoma in dogs and offers an effective treatment for melanoma in horses. It is a DNA-based vaccine that stimulates the body to produce an immune response to a protein found in melanoma cells (tyrosinase). It will target all melanoma cells, both internal and external and those not accessible with other treatments. The drug is licensed in the USA for use in dogs, so treatment of horses in the UK is carried out under the veterinary cascade and is only available under the supervision of specially qualified veterinarians. Preliminary results from use of the vaccine suggest that response to the vaccine is positive in some cases but unpredictable; some horses showed cessation of melanoma growth or even tumour shrinkage, however not all horses responded to treatment. Treatment with the vaccine involves an initial assessment followed by administration of the vaccination at two week intervals for four treatments and then six-monthly boosters.

Oakham vet Vicky Marchi has recently returned from two weeks working as a volunteer vet at The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust in West Africa.

The charity acts to provide veterinary care, equipment and education to owners of working horses and donkeys.  The lack of veterinary care and difficult living conditions means injuries and disease are commonplace.  This can have a devastating effect as the families rely heavily on their animals for transport and farming.

"The most rewarding days were spent running veterinary clinics at the local markets where queues of horses and donkeys formed for treatment; many had walked for 4 hours to see us.  We treated all conditions, including many tropical diseases not seen in the UK with very little equipment other than a stethescope and a thermometer! This presented a very different challenge to working under hospital conditions at Oakham but it was great to see animals improve and return to their families."

Taking care of your horse's teeth is essential to their well-being, not only to prevent disease but to ensure they are comfortable when ridden and performing to the best of their ability.

We recommend yearly check-ups with a vet or qualified equine dental technician, rising to six monthly checks once they reach twelve years of age.

Download this file (Dental health in horses.pdf)Dental health in horses.pdf[ ]545 kB

A pre-season check gives us an opportunity to discuss your horse and your plans for the season without the pressure of impending competitions.  We can review last season's achievements or problems and discuss how we can help you achieve your goals for the year ahead.  We can also liaise with your farrier, physio or chiropractor to decide on a coordinated effort to get the best performance from your horse.

A huge thank you to all of our equine clients who came to the 'Pub Quiz' last month at the Grainstore Brewery.  The evening raised a total of £470 for the Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance as well as being a really good night out!  Thank you also to all of the local businesses who provided raffle prizes - one of the lucky winners was totally overwhelmed by her £250 bangle from Dawson's of Stamford.

Due to the popularity of the event we didn't have space for everyone who wanted to book a team.  Apologies to those clients who weren't able to attend this time, we will keep you posted on future events and look forward to seeing you there.

Coming soon