HUNTER EQUINE CENTRE
Hunter Equine Centre is a team of world-class equine only ambulatory and hospital-based specialist vets servicing the Scone and Upper Hunter region. Our new, state of the art hospital boasts a purpose built surgery, intensive care unit, hospital boarding, diagnostic imaging services and dedicated in-house laboratory to provide a complete service to our clients and referring veterinarians alike. We pride ourselves on providing a comprehensive and personalised first opinion and referral service for all aspects of equine work, from reproductive management through foaling, yearling sales and all the way to racehorse and elite sports horses.
Hunter Equine Centre, through its founder Dr Bridget Bester, has a long established association with the breeding and racing enterprises around the Upper Hunter region, as well as an increasing sport horse clientele. Whatever your veterinary need, our steadily growing team of highly qualified and professional veterinary surgeons and support staff can assist you and your equine counterpart.
The HEC team provide a world class reproductive service including both intensive and routine reproductive work on stud farms, in-hospital AI service and management of problem mares and sub-fertile stallions. The team claims excellent fertility rates for the mares underour care. Reproduction contracts are available to allow regular monitoring and extensive treatment at a fixed cost.
Looking after a sick foal can be the most difficult but rewarding part of the breeding season. Neonatal medicine is complex and often very intensive, requiring hospitalisation. Here at HEC we have a dedicated hospital and intensive care team including an internal medicine specialist to ensure that sick foals under our care received the gold standard of neonatal intensive care. Likewise, our experienced and highly qualified team of stud vets can ensure gold standard diagnostics and care on-farm for minor illness or injuries
Ultrasound is a safe, non-invasive, highly versatile and valuable tool in the assessment and management of equine patients. From evaluation of the musculoskeletal system to the heart, lungs, intra-abdominal and reproductive organs, ultrasound provides an invaluable insight into the cause of illness or injury in many cases. All of our vets carry high quality mobile units, in addition to the state of the art advanced ultrasound machines within the hospital.
Endoscopy or ‘scoping’ allows visualisation of the upper respiratory and digestive tracts. This can be carried out routinely in the assessment of airway function for diagnosis of “roarers”, to evaluate a cause of nasal discharge, aid in diagnosis of allergic airway disorders or “bleeding” in racehorses as well as to diagnosis gastric ulceration. Endoscopy is also performed as a condition of sale at yearling sales. Abnormalities of airway function can be identified both prior to sale as well as during training
HEC runs a busy elective only surgery caseload including arthroscopic removal and repair of OCD lesions in weanlings and adults, and trans-physeal screw placement in foals. In addition to these routine and somewhat seasonal surgeries we also regularly perform airway surgeries such as tie-backs, surgical curettage of sequestrums and other non-emergency surgeries. We also provide an on-farm screw removal service in foals to negate the need for a return trip to the hospital once the angular limb deformities have been corrected.
HOSPITAL & INTENSIVE CARE
HEC provides a full hospital and intensive care facility to provide varying degrees of supportive, nursing and intensive care to all equine patients from ponies through to thoroughbreds and foals through to adults, including intravenous and intra-gastric fluid therapy and oxygen therapy. Hospital & Intensive Care In addition, we have purpose built large mare and foal boxes to facilitate intensive care of sick recumbent neonates in segregated foal creches within a larger stable so that the mare and foal can be physical separated to facilitate intensive therapies while still enabling nose-to-nose contact and bonding between the mare and foal.
At HEC we have several vets with a keen interest in the management of poor performance cases; from diagnosing the cause through to implementing a treatment plan to rectify the problem wherever possible. The cause of poor performance can be varied, with possibilities including underlying orthopaedic and lameness issues (including tendon, bone and joint injuries as well as hoof and shoeing problems), myopathies or muscle diseases such as “tying up”, gastric ulceration, dental disease, airway disease including asthma, lower-airway bleeding and upper airway obstructions, and cardiac disease. A thorough, methodical approach to poor performance workup is important and often involves multiple steps; speak to one of our vets about the options available including dynamic endoscopy using your treadmill to evaluate the cause of respiratory noise during exercise, or an ECG at rest or during exercise or an ultrasound of the heart to evaluate suspected cardiac problems.
HEC has a fully equipped laboratory that enables on-site blood analysis, cytologicalevaluation of body-cavity fluids, synovial samples and airway samples, culture of diagnostic samples, including mare and stallion pre-breeding swabs and faecal analysis for parasite burden as well as some common causes of diarrhoea. Blood analysis includes routine haematology (complete bloodcount), serum biochemistry, electrolyte measurement and evaluation of acute phase proteins (markers of inflammation). In addition all of our ambulatory vets have the capacity to measure serum amyloid A (acute phase protein/marker of inflammation) using patient-side analysers to rapidly identify the degree of systemic inflammation in a sick patient.
Yearling assessments in the lead up to yearling preparation and sales is a critical component of optimising saleability and future performance. Here at HEC we have a highly experienced team that can provide lameness and conformational assessments to identify any abnormalities and enable early intervention, importantly identifying problems that can be managed or operated on prior to sales. Radiography has become an important aspect of the sale of yearlings and we can offer advice to those both selling and buying horses, including on-site evaluation at the sales by one of our experienced team.
The team at HEC have extensive experience working alongside trainers to optimise racehorse performance in several countries around the world. In addition to providing general health care and lameness evaluation we can provide extensive and in-depth lameness diagnosis including localisation and recommendations for treatment and recovery; evaluation of respiratory diseases, both of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and obstructive diseases such as recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (“roarers”), including video-endoscopy during treadmill exercise; and gastroscopy to identify stomach ulceration and enable a treatment and management plan to be implemented.
Did you know that dental disease can lead to colic, weight loss and gastric diseases. As such dental management is a critical component of routine health care for horses. Whether your horse is a high performing athlete such as a racehorse or performance horse, or a broodmare at pasture it is important to ensure their teeth and mouth are in good shape.