The equine sports medicine centre at Langford Veterinary Services is one of the leading centres of its kind in the UK. We have a long tradition of cutting edge clinical research and are world leaders in the development of overground endoscopy. The equine sports medicine centre is fully equipped to undertake high speed treadmill assessments, overground endoscopy, assessment of the lower respiratory tract, ECG, echocardiography and gastroscopy. Our aim at the sports medicine centre is to improve the health, welfare and performance of the athletic horse. Although the majority of our caseload focuses on the high performance equine athlete we are also pleased to assist investigations of pleasure horses.
The equine sports medicine centre is run by Dr Kate Allen, a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is the first veterinary surgeon in the UK with this qualification. In 2014 Evita Busschers joined Kate in holding this qualification.
At the sports medicine centre we typically take referrals for investigation of abnormal noise during exercise or to investigate horses which are struggling with their performance. A high proportion of our caseload is racehorses, however we do see high level sports horses, pleasure horses and even show ponies.
Abnormal respiratory noise typically occurs because of an obstruction to airflow within the upper airway. There are many types of obstruction and these can cause similar noises. We know that in many horses, performing endoscopy with the horse stood still is inaccurate and determining what happens during exercise. Therefore the key part of our investigation is to perform the endoscopy during exercise. There are two ways we can do this:
1) During treadmill exercise
The treadmill is run by a dedicated team of experienced clinicians and support staff. Horses undergo gentle training on the treadmill over a period of 2 days prior to the endoscopy being performed.
2) During ridden exercise (overground endoscopy)
For sports horses overground endoscopy can be performed in our indoor arena at Langford or at your premises if they are suitable. For racehorses we can perform overground endoscopy at the trainers gallops or during a racecourse gallop. The most important thing with racehorses is to have appropriate facilities so that the problem can be replicated on the day.
This is a comprehensive service most commonly used for racehorses, when the trainer knows there is a problem affecting the horse’s performance but it is not clear what that problem might be.
We provide a full diagnostic service including examination, blood tests, orthopaedic assessment, endoscopy of the upper airways at rest and exercise, ECG during exercise, endoscopy of the lower airways (with tracheal and lung washes) after exercise, muscle enzymes after exercise and gastroscopy.
Clinical experience has shown that many horses are suffering from mild abnormalities in more than one body system which cumulatively affects performance, therefore undertaking a complete investigation is key.
The sports medicine services are intertwined with the equine hospital.
The orthopaedic specialists see a wide variety of lameness, back problems and behaviour problems in the performance horse.