The B&W Equine Group provides a full ambulatory service for horse owners in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, South Wales and beyond. The team has years of clinical experience treating everything from miniature ponies to olympic horses.
The practice offers first opinion and emergency treatment including x-ray, ultrasound and endoscopy at your premises. The team benefits from the additional support of specialists and surgical facilities back at the clinic if required. The following services are provided:
- Routine Procedures (including Health Checks, Dental Care, Vaccinations)
- Medical Ailments and Lamenesses
- Emergencies (including Colic, Injuries, Foalings)
- Vettings (Pre-purchase and Insurance Examinations)
- Veterinary Advice (including FREE telephone advice to clients)
- Export and Health Certification
A Day in the life of an Ambulatory Vet
Although it sounds very clichéd, the first thing to say is that there is no typical day in the life of an ambulatory equine vet – sure enough there are calls which are routine and uneventful but you never know when the practice or a client is going to call you to ask if you can divert and go to a colic or a nasty wound.
Yesterday, for example, started quietly enough with a quick visit to a local stud on the way to the practice, to collect some routine bloods, to sedate 4 horses (a mare, a stallion and 2 foals) for the farrier and to inject a couple of horses. From there it was on to the practice, where I was anticipating having half an hour or so to catch up on paperwork (every vet’s favourite task…!) and make a couple of phone calls. However, as I approached the practice the office called to tell me about an emergency – a yearling on a small Thoroughbred stud farm near Malmesbury had gone through a wire fence and cut open its forearm, did I have time to go and look at it? I quickly grabbed what I needed to restock my car, picked up one of the vet students that we have seeing practice with us most weeks of the year, and headed off. Luckily the yard wasn’t too far away from the rest of my calls, so it was still possible that we might be able to repair the yearling without disrupting the rest of the day too much.
On arrival at the yard though that possibility changed – a clearly nervous, stressed yearling was pacing round its box with a large flap of skin dangling from its forearm – I got to work with the student drawing up sedation, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and then slipped into the box. 5 minutes later the yearling is starting to look a little dozy although it wasn’t the easiest job in the world injecting him – already stressed and in discomfort, he hasn’t had a lot of handling and his first response to feeling the needle was to go straight up and then start spinning and reversing around the box at high speed – fortunately the combined weight of owner and vet hanging off him, and an accurate shot with the needle meant we could slow him down and calm him down.
Once the yearling was sedated I we were able to take a closer look at the wound – a ragged upside down ‘L’ shape which is clearly contaminated with bits of grass and hair, and which, despite being sedated, he doesn’t want to let us anywhere near. I top up his sedation and whilst we wait for that to work, call the office to let them know I’m going to be running behind – it will take at least an hour to clean, suture and bandage this particular wound so we need to try and rearrange or delay some calls so I’m not running late all day! Luckily our clients are very sympathetic about this sort of problem – they all understand that emergencies have to be given priority, and don’t mind too much if it means that their call has to be delayed – tomorrow it could be their horse which has injured itself or developed colic.
A even more sedated yearling is much more accommodating about allowing me to examine his leg – I inject some local anaesthetic into the surrounding skin to numb the region and then he stands there as good as gold for the hour it takes to clip and flush the wound and try to remove all of the vegetation and dirt he has got into it, and then to repair and bandage it. Once done it looks significantly better, we’ll be back in 48 hours to remove the bandage and see how well our repair is doing.
Now it is back on with the scheduled calls of the day – today it’s my zone day which means that I’m based in the area between Cirencester, Malmesbury and Purton, clients can ring in up to the night before and request a visit in the area, in return for some flexibility on time we offered a reduced visit fee which allows us to try and group the routine calls for a zone onto one day, so we don’t have to repeatedly cross over our tracks all week.
The next call is near Cherington, to examine and rasp the teeth of 3 hunting horses that are getting ready for the new season, 2 are new horses fresh over from Ireland and 1 has been here for some years, and is a regular with the Beaufort. All 3 are reasonably co-operative patients, and none of them have anything that is particularly abnormal going on in their mouths, so an hour later myself, the student and Wilf (a highly opinionated Jack Russell terrier) are pulling out of the yard and driving 5 minutes down the road to Culkerton where we have to re-examine 2 horses I saw last week. One horse had an ulcer on the front of its eye, he has recovered well – the ulcer has completely healed and his pupil is responding normally to light again, which means he can go back out into the late summer sun, whilst his companion, another hunter who had a slight fetlock strain has also improved over the weekend with some rest and anti-inflammatories. Unfortunately he’s missed the first day of Autumn Hunting, but at least he won’t be carrying an injury into the start of the season with him.
As we pass through Tetbury heading south we have brief stop to buy some lunch, and then it’s on down to the other side of Malmesbury to re-examine foal which was sutured last week after sticking its leg through 5 bar gate – the sutures are holding together very well, they look like they will be ready to come out in another 7 days at which point the foal can start to be walked out in hand for a week, prior to being turned out and then weaned.
Next we have to head north again, a non-emergency call but another yearling which needs to have a 3rd vaccination before it changes yard, so it’s time to disappear into the network of lanes and valleys between Cirencester and Stroud – it’s a lovely part of the Cotswolds with stunning scenery and breathtaking views and is certainly one of my favourite bits to visit, but you never know quite what you’re going to meet coming round the next blind corner – a tractor and trailer, a horse and rider or another vet rushing around at high speed trying not to be late!
My last call of the day is one that has been rearranged from earlier – 5 vaccinations back down near Malmesbury, which were scheduled for midday, but which the owner was able to move back until nearer 5pm – the only thing tricky about this call is trying to decipher the previous vaccination history of the horses and get them all back on track and in date, and assist the owner in planning the date of the next visit they need to remain up to date! Once that is done we can head back to the clinic in Willesley village where we need to finally try and do that paperwork and respond to any messages that have been left for me during the day, then it’s time for a walk for the long-suffering Wilf through the fields and bridleways around the clinic, before heading home to grab some food and hopefully have a quiet night at home next to the phone – I’m on call this evening so who knows what will happen!