A student in Sha Tin

Author and Victoria McIver both fifth-year students.

Author and Victoria McIver both fifth-year students.

As a University student, a good deal of my holiday time is spent doing prac work at various clinics around New South Wales. Last summer however I was lucky enough to go somewhere wildly different. Along with one of my uni friends I was able to spend two weeks at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. It would prove to be an experience radically different from other prac work I’ve done, both in the setting and the way in which veterinary medicine was practised.

On our first day at the Hong Kong Jockey club we were given a taste of what daily life is like for the vets working there. Located at Sha Tin in the north of Hong Kong’s mainland, the complex consists of a clinic and then twenty four stables each allocated to a different trainer. Like the rest of Hong Kong, space here is at a premium. Each stable complex holds approximately sixty horses and is three storeys high. Such a massive area can be a little disorienting for new students but after two weeks we began to pick up the lay of the land. Every morning we would be allocated a vet and led around the club to see their morning activities. Each vet has around five or six trainers who they see regularly throughout the week and handle their caseload as well as performing routine duties. We moved through the stables observing endoscopies, injections and dental treatments.

Each stable has a large number of stable hands (‘mafoo’ for the locals) who have each horse caught and ready for the vet upon their arrival, making a task like giving thirty injections take no time at all. We also saw a variety of supplementary treatments that would vary from trainer to trainer. Some used dufalyte infusion; others would infuse their own formulations of dextrose, potassium and other electrolytes. Other trainers would take regular blood samples of in work horses, using a number of analytes as performance indicators. We would also regularly see horses trotted up for both routine and diagnostic lameness exams. Treatment costs in Hong Kong were not a concern for many of the trainers and so in most instances vets were given free reign to follow up and treat cases in any manner they wished. This in conjunction with an excellent records network, which could be accessed by the vets from any computer within the complex, meant that almost all the horses at the club had detailed histories available. Continue reading A student in Sha Tin

Veterinarians urged to consider ABLV in horses with neurological signs

Baby bat suckes from bottle3The detection of Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) in two horses on a Queensland property is a concern for veterinarians and horse owners alike, according to the Australian Veterinary Association.

Biosecurity Queensland quarantined a property in the Southern Downs last month after a horse tested positive for ABLV – the first known case of ABLV in this species.

According to a statement by NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth, the yearling was initially off-colour with subtle signs of dullness and ataxia. Its condition deteriorated over a period of days, demonstrating marked ataxia, head-pressing, dysphagia, hypermetria and a rectal temperature of 39°C. Within four days the horse struggled to stand. The animal drank but did not eat, and had a heart rate of 60 beats per minute. Hendra virus testing returned negative.

Five days after initial presentation the horse developed seizures and was euthanased by the veterinarian, who performed a necropsy. Histopathology of the brain revealed severe diffuse non-purulent encephalitis and myelitis. Because this finding can be seen with ABLV, testing was undertaken. Other differentials included Hendra virus, tetanus and flavivirus (thought to be possible due to a local surge of mosquitos in the preceding month). The animal tested positive for ABLV. Continue reading Veterinarians urged to consider ABLV in horses with neurological signs

Hay List bucks the odds to return to racing

Hay ListIn early April 2012 champion sprinter Hay List, a six-year-old thoroughbred gelding – at the time the highest rated male sprinter in the world and the only horse to ever get close to beating Black Caviar, – underwent surgery for colic at a Sydney equine hospital.

On recovering from he was found to be non weight bearing lame in the near fore leg with swelling about his carpus. Soon after radiographs revealed Hay List had severely fractured his carpus and the owners and trainer were advised he would never race again and that even his survival was at risk. Opinions were obtained from leading equine surgeons around the world with advice ranging from do nothing and hope, to carpal arthrodesis and even euthanasia.

The horse was put into a tube cast and then returned to trainer John McNair’s property at Somersby on the Central Coast of NSW. Here he came under the care of specialist equine surgeon Nicholas Kannegieter and stable vet Brett Jones. On his return he was still Grade 4-5/5 lame, had extensive firm diffuse swelling around the left carpus, pain on even mild flexion and greatly reduced range of motion.

Further radiographs confirmed the severity of the injury revealing a comminuted fracture of the intermediate carpal bone with crushing and fragmentation of the proximal articular surface, multiple avulsion fractures from the caudal aspect of the distal radius and proximal radial, intermediate and ulnar carpal bones, crushing of dorsal articular surface of the radiocarpal and third carpal bones and damage to all major ligaments resulting in joint instability. Continue reading Hay List bucks the odds to return to racing

Risk factors for race-associated sudden death in thoroughbred racehorses in the UK (2000-2007)

Reasons for performing study: sudden death adversely affects racehorse welfare, jockey safety and the public perception of horseracing. Objective: to describe the risk of racing-associated sudden death in thoroughbred racehorses in the UK from 2000 to 2007, to identify whether there were risk factors uniquely associated with sudden death and to improve the understanding of the . . . → Read More: Risk factors for race-associated sudden death in thoroughbred racehorses in the UK (2000-2007)

The Role of Bits in Equitation: A Welfare Issue

Traditionally, the use of a bitted bridle has been the principal method by which the ridden horse has been controlled (Quick & Warren-Smith, 2009). The use of a bit is invasive, since it causes discomfort in the mouth and interferes with breathing (Cook, 1999). Additionally, a bit affects oral behaviours and, when accompanied by excessive . . . → Read More: The Role of Bits in Equitation: A Welfare Issue