Page 67 - Rooftops Summer 2019
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  Above: Emergency surgery can be carried out immediately. Right: At the hospital, advanced diagnostic imaging facilities include MRI scanning
                  During racing, members of the racecourse veterinary team are positioned in different parts of the course and are in constant contact with each other and with racecourse officials. At the beginning of each race, one will be at the start, checking the horses as they go into the stalls and fielding any concerns that may be raised either by the jockeys or starter. They then follow the race by car, driving alongside the track behind the doctor’s vehicle and the ambulance. A second vet is always in the ‘head-on box’ with the stewards, and watches the final stages of the race, following the horses after they finish the race and go to the winners’ enclosure.
When a horse pulls up
during a race, the attending
vet will carry out a clinical
examination to determine the severity of the situation. If necessary, first aid measures can be taken straight away and where appropriate the horse will be led or ridden to the stable areas for further assessment. In more serious
cases however, when a significant injury is suspected or diagnosed, limb support will be applied if appropriate and the horse ambulance will be used to transport the animal to NEH’s specialist hospital, less than 10 minutes away from either racecourse. Once there, a more detailed clinical examination will be undertaken, including x-rays and/or scans, to assess the extent of the injury. If required, emergency surgery can also be undertaken by one of the consultants in NEH’s sophisticated surgical facilities.
In previous times, a broken leg inevitably led to the affected horse having to retire from racing, or even be put to sleep. However, huge advances have been made, both in technology and expertise, and now it is not at all unusual for racehorses, having sustained a fracture, to return to a racing career and perform at the same level as before. Indeed, it is a tribute to the facilities and expertise available that last year horses that had undergone surgery at NEH went on to win 13 top class British and international races and a World Equestrian Games gold medal. Three of the highest profile victories followed surgical techniques pioneered at NEH.
However, the vets’ duties are not confined to race days. Throughout the year, they work closely with trainers and senior staff at the yards, investigating soundness or respiratory issues - the two most common causes of horses being unable to race. Thanks to modern technology, many diagnostic procedures such as radiography, ultrasonography
and endoscopy can now be carried out on the yards using high quality
portable equipment. During yard visits, the vets also
carry out routine vaccinations, in line with the prevailing
recommendations. The rules that apply to
equine athletes are even more rigid than those governing human
sport. Whenever horses are medicated, strict withdrawal
times must be adhered to in order to ensure that they are free of any residues by race day.
However, as a result of these rules and regulations we can be assured that equine welfare is at the top of the agenda on the racecourses at Newmarket – and throughout the UK.

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