W e have had our system since Spring ’11 and it has revolutionised our imaging in practice. Basically the image comes up on the screen ten seconds after it has been taken and the detail is fantastic. Being able to diagnose conditions in the field allows for a more rapid and efficient treatment plan. Images can be transmitted by e-mail minutes after they have been shot or they can be downloaded on to a memory stick for storage or to accompany a horse to surgery if so required.
For pre-purchase examinations the digital x-ray allows for rapid imaging of feet , fetlocks, knees, hocks, stifles, spinous processes, etc. And evaluation on site, thus providing as much valuable information as possible with regard to making an informed decision on purchase.
G iven the competitive nature of our National Hunt and Eventing disiplines and the often testing underfoot conditions it is no wonder soft tissue injuries are most common. Modern digital ultrasound machines are small and portable but also deliver excellent quality images. Accurate diagnosis and evaluation is essential to determine the appropriate treatment and rehabilitation programme . In addition to the common tendon and ligament injuries ultrasound can also be used to examine many joints for small chips or signs of infection.
Ultrasound is also of great benefit in many medical cases, such as scanning foals chests for signs of Rhodococcus infection or in colic cases to determine the changes in the gut. Our predominant use of ultrasound is in the day to day monitoring of the changes in the mares ovaries and uterus during management of her reproductive cycle.
E xamination of the upper airway by passing a flexible endoscope up the nose is used to investigate a horse that is found to make an abnormal noise when exercising . Many of these have some degree of paralysis of the larynx but other conditions like cysts or entrapments are also found. Respiratory infections and allergies are big problems in competition horses and endoscopic examination of the airways pre and post competition is routine in many yards.
In conjunction with the scope we may recommend swabbing, lung washes( passing a tube deep into the lungs to take a sample of the cells in the lower airways ), blood screens, environmental sampling to assist with the diagnosis.
Some horses may benefit from the use of a dynamic scope to examine the airways during a piece of work and so determine the most appropriate surgery required. We can arrange referral for this procedure.
Buying a horse or pony is an important decision and a pre-purchase examination tailored to their intended use is a critical tool to assist in that decision. The examination consists of a comprehensive five stage process where we evaluate the health and soundness of the horse. The first part consists of a clinical examination to evaluate the heart, eyes, chest, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems.
Observations are then carried out at the walk and trot in straight lines and on circles on firm and soft surfaces. Active flexion tests of front and hind joints are performed routinely.
Horse may be ridden to observe movement under saddle and to actively canter to listen to their wind for the presence of abnormal respiratory noises.
A set of digital x-rays provides valuable information to complement the clinical picture and provides a baseline of the horses skeletal system that may be useful for the future. With the direct digital system used by the practice you have on the spot feedback allowing quick decision making. Images can also be e-mailed to clients regular veterinarian for further evaluation. The number of images varies with type and value of the horse; basic sport horse set would include front feet and hocks and a full set adds in fetlocks, stifles, knees, spinous process, etc…For racehorse exporting to USA and FarEast we carry out a full 36 set profile.
Further tests that may be carried out on request include ; endoscopic examination of the upper airways
Ultrasound evaluation of soft tissues ; tendons, etc..
Routine bloods for general health
Bloods samples are also taken for storage at a approved laboratory and may be analysed on request for medication that may have altered the horses clinical presentation.
Please give us a call to discuss your requirements and we hope our experience and expertise in all levels of sport and race horses will ensure that your pre -purchase examination will give you a comprehensive review to assist you in making an informed decision about buying a new horse.
Mark Fagan has served on the veterinary panel at Tattersalls Ireland and Goffs Bloodstock sales for the last ten years and is also on the panel for Cavan Sales.
This is a key area of interest for the practice. Each lameness is different , some are obvious however many are subtle and require detailed investigation to determine the precise location of the problem. Following observation of the horse move in hand , on the lunge and under saddle on various surfaces local anaesthetics are used to block nerves or directly into joints to assist in localisation of the lameness . Once the location has been determined imaging is used to determine the lesion or injury involved. This is mostly digital x-ray and / or ultrasound. Occasionally cases will require bone scans or MRI and we work with the top referral hospitals when so required.
Fortunately with the diagnostic and treatment options now available many cases have a favourable outcome and can continue to perform to their required level.
Routine dental care is critical in all horses but especially in the performance athlete. We like to mildly sedate the horses for their dental exam and treatment .
This allows for a safe and thorough examination with a full mouth gag. As well as fully visualising all the molar teeth we can palate them to ensure that all sharp enamel points have been removed and a nice bit seat provided.
The full mouth speculum also allows for correction of molar hooks, removal of loose caps, extraction of wolf teeth, removal of broken / infected molars etc…digital x-rays nerve blocks may be called for on occasions. We predominantly use a combination of hand floats with carbide blades to give a bespoke finish. We use power floats for large hooks .All horse should be done once yearly and top end competition animals may require twice yearly treatments. It is most surprising to examine horses where the dental exam and treatment has been over looked and where the horse are poor eaters , not thriving , may be dropping food , are fighting the bit or have cut lips and bars. It is also highly recommended that all horses have a thorough dental before being broken.
This is the backbone of the practice in the springtime. All aspects of management of the mare are catered for , including routine scanning of ovaries and uterus insetting up for stud ( walk in / boarding), swabbing /wash outs stitching. Problem mares catered for. Monitoring of the pregnancy / twin management, etc…
Like any athlete staying on top is a tough game so when your horse looses his sparkle early intervention can be critical to identifying the problem and preventing a downward spiral.
Most commonly we will start by doing a full clinical examination to check general health. Bloods are taken for analysis, routine haematology is performed at the clinic and we dispatch samples to The Irish Equine Centre for deeper screening.
Respiratory infection and inflammation are a very common cause of poor performance in the equine athlete so endoscopic examination is carried out of the airways to detect presence of pus, mucus or blood. This examination is also to used to detect obstructions to the airways like paralysis of the larynx or cysts that may lead to abnormal noises at exercise and limit optimal athletic performance. In the Irish climate fungal growths are difficult to eliminate from feed, fodder and the general stable environment, this can lead in some horses to the development of inflammation in the lower airways. Also horses that have suffered from a recent respiratory viral infection may have residual inflammation in these small airways deep in the lungs . Many of these cases will present with an occasional cough and have degrees of mucus on the scope. Performing a bronco-alveolar lavage (lung wash) allows us examine the cells deep in the lung and determine the type of problem involved. Nortev , an Irish company have developed an equine nebulizer that has proven very beneficial in treating these cases.
Musculoskeletal problems account for the biggest percentage of poor performances in the equine athlete. Most acute injuries are obvious and can be dealt with routinely however most performance limiting problems are subtle and may just present as a change of action, favouring or changing the lead leg, hanging on one rein or failure to make a shape over or take on its jumps. At the clinic we will perform a thorough soundness exam to help pinpoint the area or areas involved. This is often followed by a digital x-ray screen to give us a baseline picture of the important skeletal structures.
Spinal problems (kissing dorsal spinal process, articulate facet disease , sacro-iliac disease) are being increasingly diagnosed and many get good response to treatment and instigation of an appropriate exercise regime.
Investigation of poor performance requires a holistic approach , a content horse performing to the best of their ability is all that any trainer or rider wants. Each horse is individual and we are delighted to be able to assist in tailoring a programme to bring them to their goals in top health.
Pre-Season/Annual Health Check
Before you get going for the new season book a full health check and be fully fit to tackle the challenge ahead Vaccinations Full dental Clinical and soundness examination Discuss worming / maybe stomach tube Do a full blood and make sure all their parameters are in order Take the opportunity to discuss your horses full health requirements for the season ahead and get on the winning road.
Foot care – Laminitis
The old adage of ‘ no foot no horse ‘ rings out as true as ever. With the advent of digital x-ray we can precisely determine the relationship of the coffin bone inside the hoof capsule and thus work closely with the farrier to determine the optimum hoof care /shoeing required to aid in resolution of the problem. Laminitis remains the highest cause of mortality in the horse only after colics and management of all cases is highly dependant on the correct remedial shoeing. Other problems often encountered include deep abscesses , penetrating wounds, hoof cracks, quittors, club foots, flat feet etc….
The practice caters for most minor procedures including wound repairs, castrations, rigs, hernias, periosteal strips, soft palates, joint flushes, regional perfusions, caslicks, etc… We also work closely with several top equine hospitals for referral for colics ,orthopaedic and wind surgeries.