Health and Veterinary Information

Pre-Purchase Examinations

This information is intended for people wishing to purchase a horse at any level, and help provide guidance as to which level of ‘vet-check’ is appropriate. 

The purpose of a ‘vet-check’ is to identify issues which may affect the horse’s suitability for a required purpose.

Assessment of temperament and breed/size choice is not part of the examination but comments may be made if there are obvious potential problems which arise.

Please note, that all horses out of work at the time of examination are more likely to be pain free and that horses can develop soreness as they come into work that may well not have been detectable at the time of examination.

Therefore if you are looking to purchase a horse for relatively high level work, it is in your interests to have the horse fit and in work at the time of examination.

Please also be aware that a lot of small issues are often found on a ‘vet-check’ and we rarely find horses that are completely perfect. What you are paying for is for us to take into consideration our findings and using our experience of the equine veterinary field to judge whether the horse will be suitable for your intended purpose.

 

What is involved in the ‘vet-check’?

There are two types of examination:

1. Limited (2 stage) :

A full examination to assess conformation, feet, heart, eyes, skin,back and a detailed examination of all limbs. Teeth are checked to help estimate age, and ID of the horse recorded. The horse is then trotted up, flexion tests done where possible and the horse assessed on the lunge at trot on both reins.  Basic neurological tests are also done, such as turning the horse in a tight circle and asking the horse to walk backwards.


2. Full (5 Stage) :

All the above but the horse is then seen at exercise. This is normally ridden work but can be fast work on the lunge if the horse cannot be ridden. Immediately after exercise the heart is re-checked.  The horse is then rested for a period of about 15 mins before the trot up, flexion tests and lunge work is repeated.


3. Additional work :

Based on the findings of the above examinations, we may make recommendations for further work such as endoscopy, x-rays or ultrasound scans. This is indicated where we have found something which we feel should be investigated in greater depth before we make a risk assessment on the problem and advise you on the best course of action.


What is the difference between the two?

Both levels of examination allow us to detect serious heart, visual defects and obvious lameness issues. The more detailed ridden examination allows us to detect serious breathing problems, some more subtle heart abnormalities as well as seeing how any lameness issues alter with exercise, thereby allowing us to make a more educated risk assessment for you in terms of whether or not to purchase the horse. This latter benefit is often more applicable to competition horses, and is not essential for those horses where you just want a general check.

What is the cost involved?


Limited Examination (2 stage) : $201(inc GST and visit charge)

Full Examination (5 Stage) : $331 (inc GST and visit charge)

Blood sample for storage: $40 (inc GST)

Any necessary extras are additional costs, please ask for details if the vet makes recommendations that extra work is necessary.

 
Do I need a blood sample taken for storage?

You may opt to have a blood sample taken during at the time of the ‘vet-check.’ The idea behind this is so that you can choose to test the blood for presence of pain relieving substances (eg bute), sedatives and steroids. All of these drugs, if present at the time of the vetting could mask lameness issues or alter the temperament of the horse.

The blood is taken at the end of the vet-check and can either be sent off immediately or stored for up to 6 months and sent for testing at any time during this period.

The cost for the test is approx $500 (it can be done slightly cheaper if you just wish to test for sedatives)

 

Artifical Insemination Protocols for Mares

FRESH OR CHILLED AI

PerCycle Costs : $550. This includes:

  • 2-3 follicle scans before insemination
  • Insemination fee
  • Semen assessment
  • Post insemination check
  • 1-2 uterine lavages if necessary
  • Any medications that might be needed (eg Oxytocin, Estrumate, Chorulon, Ovuplant)
  • 14 day pregnancy check.
  • Visit fees (within a 35k radius)

 

This is suitable for mare owners who have selected stallions close enough that the semen can be shipped chilled and still be viable for insemination when it arrives with us. We will scan the mare prior to insemination to follow her cycle and ensure that she is inseminated at the optimum time (normally this is before the follicle has ovulated). You will need to liase with the stallion company/owner to ask about how much notice they need for semen ordering (including weekend deliveries).

At the time of insemination we will assess the semen quality. It is ideal to scan the mare for 1-2 days after insemination to check that the follicle has ovulated as predicted and also that she is not pooling fluid in her uterus. If there is fluid in the uterus when the embryo arrives there at 5-6 days after ovulation, it is unlikely survive. For this reason, mares who pool fluid in the uterusoften require lavages (wash out of the uterus with sterile saline andantibiotics) to create a good environment for the embryo when it arrives.  A scan at 14 days after ovulation is included in the package, to see if the mare is pregnant!

Follow up pregnancy checks are usually done at approximately 25, 42 and 60 days. These checks are recommended to ensure normal development of the embryo and allow any early pregnancy loss to be detected and the mare re-bred if possible.

If the 14 day scan is negative then you can opt to go for another cycle – we can short cycle the mare using a PG injection and bring her back into season earlier than she would otherwise.

 

FROZEN AI

PerCycle Costs : $850. This includes the items listed above – however the protocol is slightly different for reasons described below. 

This is the protocol necessary if the stallion is situated abroad or interstate, where the only method of getting viable semen to the mare is in frozen straws which are thawed out just before insemination. Each dose of semen will be made up of a certain number of straws (this depends on the stallion), and the viability of the semen will be assessed at the time of insemination.

You will need to arrange for the semen to be delivered to us and for storage as necessary at the clinic – please speak to the vet about this as arrangements for storage must be made and all costs discussed up front with regard to liquid nitrogen top-ups, which are not included in the fee above. It is ideal if the mares are kept with us in the clinic for 24-72 hours around insemination. The reason for this is that frozen semen has a short survival time once inseminated and so the timing for insemination is crucial. Normally we scan the mares very regularly during the time coming up to ovulation and inseminate the mare within 6 hours of ovulation – helping to ensure that the sperm are still alive when they reach the egg. Mares are more likely to show a fluid reaction in their uterus with frozen semen and so we again scan them for 1-2 days after insemination to ensure the uterus is not pooling fluid.

There are greater costs and often slightly reduced pregnancy rates associated with frozen semen. This is a result of the close monitoring necessary around the time of ovulation (frequent scans) and the reduced survival time of the sperm compared to chilled semen. However good pregnancy rates can still be achieved, and are helped by close monitoring of the mare around insemination which is why we ask these mares to be boarded with us at the clinic. Livery for 1-3 days as needed at Adelaide Hills Equine Clinic is included in the per cycle fee, as is the first pregnancy check at 14 days after ovulation.