Horsham horses 'at risk' due to lack of equine veterinarian

Horsham Pony Club member Natasha Exell. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Horsham Pony Club member Natasha Exell. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

HORSHAM horse lovers are concerned there is no equine veterinarian in the city as foaling season approaches.

Your Family Vet, formerly O’Callaghan Parade Veterinary Clinic, and Horsham Veterinary Hospital both deal with smaller animals.

More than 100 people joined an ‘Equine vet for Horsham’ group on Facebook on Friday.

Horsham and Districts Equestrian Sports Club president Stephanie Martin said the nearest equine vets were two hours away in Ballarat.

She said a vet was required in emergency situations to help or euthanise an animal.

“It’s a huge issue. It’s a very dire position to be in,” she said.

Mrs Martin said many Horsham horse owners used a Ballarat veterinarian for non-emergency situations.

She said Warracknabeal veterinarian Brian Clarke was also popular, but busy.

“He’s pretty swamped,” she said.

Mrs Martin said she understood why Horsham veterinarians would refuse to take on larger animals such as horses and cows without the facilities or training.

“It’s really hard and it must be difficult for them,” she said.

“Ideally, it would be nice if one of the vets had someone who was helping to treat horses, or if a vet came to Horsham who was happy to treat large animals.

“We just need somebody to come who knows how to help you in an emergency.”

“It’s a huge issue. It’s a very dire position to be in.” - Horsham and Districts Equestrian Sports Club president Stephanie Martin

Jeparit resident Alicia Rosewell said the whole of the Wimmera would suffer without a 24-hour large-animal veterinarian.

She said four horse studs near Jeparit alone had about 70 horses.

She said she needed a vet available for emergencies.

“I know Brian Clarke is in Warracknabeal but basically he is just too busy,” she said.

“I have had horses all of my life and can handle the day-to-day problems, small traumas and mild illnesses, so when I ring a vet, I need that vet to come out to treat my horse.

“Nine times out of 10 lately, Brian is busy on another case and can’t come. Sometimes, the horse is just not able to be transported to a vet.”

Brina Park Racing stables track rider and strapper Kim Hair said it was paramount the city had a large-animal veterinarian on call 24 hours. Miss Hair said there were about 100 horses between racehorse trainers in Horsham.

“That doesn’t include harness racing horses, pony club, show or pleasure mounts,” she said.

She said she had dealt with a horse breaking its leg during galloping track work.

“This happened, fortunately, while there was still a vet treating horses in Horsham,” she said.

“The whole ordeal, from calling the vet from when the horse was finally put to sleep, took more than an hour, an hour while this horse stood in considerable shock and pain.”

“I am advocating for a specialist equine and large-animal clinic to be set up in Horsham to service the surrounding area.'' - Track rider and strapper Kim Hair

Miss Hair is worried about foaling season.

“I am greatly concerned that if my mare has any complications while giving birth there will be no veterinary service to help her,” she said.

“Once she has gone into labour she cannot simply be put on a float and moved the two-hour trip to the nearest surgery in Ballarat.

“I am advocating for a specialist equine and large-animal clinic to be set up in Horsham to service the surrounding area. 

“I think it would prove viable to have a clinic set up in Horsham with at least two to three large animal vet specialists, as it’s not just horses that are no longer being accommodated, but livestock as well.”

Miss Hair is studying a Certificate IV in veterinary nursing.

Horsham’s Lee-anne Rigby said if horses had trouble in the middle of the night during foaling season, owners could be forced to wait hours for a vet to come.

Your Family Vet owner Penny Schwarz said Horsham horse owners could use their regular veterinarian to treat injured horses.

She said an equine veterinarian needed additional training and facilities.

"We have to be covered from a litigation and occupational health and safety point of view,'' she said.

Horsham Veterinary Hospital was unavailable for comment.

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