24 HR EMERGENCY LINE:  01392 876622



In the event of an emergency, do not hesitate to phone 01392 876622,
our 24 hour emergency line.


Signs which indicate choke:

  • Liquid and food material coming from nostrils
  • Coughing
  • Retching
  • Distressed appearance with head and neck often extended

Choke can be very alarming condition to encounter. Thankfully in horses choke refers to blockage of the oesophagus rather than the windpipe and is much less of an emergency than it might seem although your horse may seem very distressed.

What to do:

  • Remove all food and hay from the stable
  • Keep the horse quiet and relaxed
  • Contact the practice for further advice

How choke is resolved:

  • The majority of choke episodes pass of their own accord if the horse is left quietly for 30-60 mins (the massive production of saliva from the horse lubricates and softens the blockage allowing it to pass).
  • Large or persistent blockages may take longer to clear or may need some assistance. If a large amount of unsoaked sugarbeet, carrots or other bulky feedstuff has been ingested contact the practice for advice as soon as you can.
  • We can give your horse spasmolytics to relax the lining of the oesophagus as well as sedation to help settle them.
  • We may want to pass a soft rubber tube up the nose of your horse and into his oesophagus to allow flushing of the blockage with water to help it to pass.


Signs which indicate colic:

  • Pawing at the ground
  • Kicking at belly with back legs
  • Looking around at their belly
  • Restlessness, repeatedly getting up and getting down
  • Rolling
  • Not interested in food

The signs are very variable and each horse will behave differently. Usually, the sooner colic is noticed and treated the more likely it is to respond to medical treatment. Some types of colic will appear very severe from the outset and these may require urgent surgical treatment.

What to do:

  • Remove food from the stable
  • Call the vet

Whilst waiting for the vet:

  • Mild cases may respond to walking but do not walk the horse if it looks like it may roll – put it in a stable.
  • Ensure the stable is well bedded.
  • Do not attempt to stop the horses from rolling – it will not increase the risk of gut twisting. The gut will twist spontaneously, whether it is rolling or not – the rolling is merely a reflection of the pain the horse is in.
  • If a stable is not available take the horse into a school or a paddock but ensure they are not able to get caught in fencing if they roll.
  • Locate the horse’s passport.
  • Arrange transport in case the horse requires surgery.
  • Inform your insurance company that your horse is being seen by a vet for colic and may require surgery.

Severe Lameness

What to do:

  • Look for any obvious wounds
  • Palpate the leg for heat, pain or abnormal swelling
  • Lift the foot and check for stones or nails
  • Call the vet for advice

The most common causes of severe lameness include:

  • Fractures – usually there will be an obvious wound, the horse will be sweating and unable to bear weight. Do not move the horse if you suspect a fracture.
  • Foot abscesses – the foot will need to be examined and pared by a vet or farrier to confirm the diagnosis and advise on treatment.
  • Foot penetrations – if a nail or sharp object penetrates the sole of the foot it will deposit bacteria resulting in infection within the foot. Sometimes the infection. establishes within an important structure within the foot which can have serious long term implications if not addressed immediately. If the sharp object is still
  • in the foot, do not remove it unless leaving it in will result in it being pushed in further.
  • Joint infections – if there is no obvious wound associated with a hot, swollen joint then the site should be clipped to allow closer investigation. The tiniest puncture wound, even a thorn, can carry bacteria into a joint capsule setting up a sepsis within hours. Call your vet immediately if you suspect a joint infection.
  • Tendon injuries – these commonly present with sudden onset of moderate to severe pain, usually with heat in the affected area. The lameness may appear to resolve within a day or so but there still may be considerable damage to the tendon so call the practice for advice if unsure.
  • Laminitis – this can occur all year round in horses as well as ponies. If you notice constant weight shifting, a pottery short gait, unwillingness to walk over hard or stony ground or resistance to turning tightly when led then you should put your horse in a deep bedded stable and contact the practice for advice. The sooner laminitis is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome and the less damage occurs to the foot.

Nose Bleeds

What to do:

  • Keep the horse quiet
  • Call the vet if the bleed is significant and continuing

Nose bleeds most normally occur after trauma, such as a bang to the head. In very rare cases they can indicate an underlying disease.

Stuck horses

What to do:

  • Stay well away from the horse
  • Ensure someone keeps others safely away from the horse whilst you contact the VET and FIRE BRIGADE

Whilst waiting for the emergency services:

  • Talk quietly to the horse from a distance if this helps to keep them calm
  • Ask someone to find bales, lunge lines and riding hats ready for the vet and rescue crews

Eye Conditions

Almost all eye conditions will present with one or more of the following signs:

  • Some degree of swelling around the eye
  • Weeping of the eye
  • The eye becoming partially or completely closed
  • Redness of the conjunctiva
  • Rubbing of the eye

If any of these signs are noticed, contact the practice immediately as eye conditions can quickly progress resulting in permanent damage or loss of sight.

Breathing Difficulties

Signs which indicate breathing difficulties:

  • Flared nostrils
  • Obvious increase in rate and effort of breathing

What to do:

  • Do not move the horse unnecessarily
  • Call vet immediately

Severe Wounds

What to do:

  • Cover any heavily bleeding wounds and apply pressure
  • Call the practice

Wounds which require urgent veterinary attention include those over joints, near eyes or those which are heavily bleeding. Your horse will also require veterinary attention within 24 hours if it is not vaccinated against tetanus, regardless of the size or location of the wound.

Difficult Foalings

What to do:

  • Contact the practice immediately

If your mare is showing difficulty giving birth, is bleeding heavily, unable to stand or showing signs of colic after foaling please contact us immediately on 01392 876622.

Mild to Moderate Wounds

What to do:

As long as the wound is small and has stopped bleeding, is not over a joint, the horse is vaccinated against tetanus and is safe to handle:

  • Clip around the site of the wound
  • Clean the wound thoroughly with dilute antiseptic such as hibiscrub
  • Thoroughly dry the skin around the wound
  • Apply a suitable antibacterial cream or gel
  • Keep the site clean and covered where possible

Larger wounds may require stitching depending on where on the horse they are. The horse may also require medication such as anti-inflammatories. If you are unsure, please contact the practice on 01392 876622.