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Our Services

Lameness Investigation

Lameness investigations are usually carried out at our clinics; this is typically on a referral basis from either our own ambulatory veterinarians, or those at neighbouring practices. Our team are highly experienced at lameness investigation and our vets will guide you all the way through the most appropriate options for investigation and treatment of your horse.
A lameness investigation involves a number of stages including static and dynamic examination and in some cases observation of the horse during ridden exercise. All our clinics have excellent facilities to allow assessment of the horse on hard surfaces, soft surfaces and ridden. In some cases, particularly with more complex lameness problems, the horse may be admitted to the clinic for the duration of the investigation.
Investigation will often include diagnostic anaesthesia ('blocking') to identify where the lameness is originating in the limb. Once the lameness has been isolated to a particular location, diagnositc imaging is used to characterise the type of injury present. We have state-of-the-art imaging options available including digital radiography, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT). Often a combination of imaging is used to best visualise the problem. See below for more information regarding diagnostic imaging at Hird & Partners.

Lameness Therapeutics

Once investigation has established a diagnosis, your vet will discuss the treatment options available for your horse. Common options include localised treatment (such as medication of a joint), remedial farriery or a rehabilitation protocol. In some cases surgical treatment may be recommended, see below for more information about surgical services at Hird & Partners.
We offer a wide range of lameness therapeutic options across our practices, including:
  • Corticosteroids
  • Platelet rich plasma (PRP)
  • Polyacrylamide gel
  • Autologous conditioned serum
  • Pro-Stride®
  • Stem Cells
  • Exosomes
  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)
  • Tildren® and Osphos®
  • Remedial Farriery
  • Mesotherapy
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Pre-Purchase Examinations

Hird & Partners have a team of vets with considerable experience performing pre-purchase examinations for buyers across a range of disciplines. Pre-purchase examinations can be performed on behalf of our own clients and non-registered clients. Pre-purchase examinations can be performed on the road or at one of our clinics, for more extensive examinations a clinic setting is usually preferable. Our bookings team and the vet performing the pre-purchase examination will discuss your requirements. We offer a choice of either two or five stage vettings, consisting of:
Stage 1: Preliminary examination
  • A thorough examination of the horse to assess appearance and condition. This includes examination of the head, heart, skin, limbs and feet and examination of the horse’s eyes using an ophthalmoscope.
Stage 2: Trot up
  • The horse is walked and trotted on hard, level ground to detect abnormalities in gait and action.
  • The horse is also lunged on a soft and hard surface, again to detect any abnormalities in gait and action.
  • Flexion tests are also performed during this stage.
Stage 3: Strenuous exercise
The horse is given sufficient exercise to make the horse:
  • Breathe deeply and rapidly, allowing any unusual breath sounds to be heard.
  • Increase the horse’s heart rate so abnormalities are more easily detected.
  • To tire the horse so strains or injuries may be revealed by stiffness or lameness after a rest period.
Stage 4: Rest period
  • The horse is allowed to stand quietly; the heart and respiratory rate are checked as they return to resting levels
This also allows us to see the forses' behaviour in a stable to discuss with the potential buyer.
Stage 5: Second trot and foot examination
  • The horse is walked and trotted once more, turned sharply and backed, in order to reveal abnormalities exacerbated by strenuous exercise.
We are prepared to travel longer distances to carry out pre-purchase examinations for existing clients at an agreed rate and these can also be carried out at our clinics or hospital.
Additional procedures:
In some cases additional procedures such as radiographs may be performed at the buyer's request. It is also important to note that some insurance companies also request radiographs prior to commencing a policy for a new horse, so it is important to check this if you intend to insure your horse.
A blood sample is typically taken during a pre-purchase examination, in case testing for medications is required. The sample is stored for six months, then disposed of if there is no request for testing.
If the the horse is being sold internationally, we are also able provide additional disease testing as required.
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Surgery & Anaesthesia

Hird & Partners have an experienced surgical team with purpose-built surgical facilities at our Shelf Equine Hospital and Cheshire Clinic. We offer an elective and emergency surgery service for our own clients and those referred by neighbouring veterinary practices. Our facilities allow surgeries to be performed under general anaesthesia or under standing sedation as required. Our surgeons work closely with our specialist-led anaesthesia team to ensure procedures is performed safely and efficiently. Our anaesthesia team, directed by John Hird & Partner Sally Strachan, have access to a comprehensive range of equipment and modern anaesthetic drugs- a veterinary surgeon experienced in equine anaesthesia always monitors anaesthesia. We have a team on hand to perform emergency surgery 24 hours a day, 365 days a year- should you need us.

Our surgical team will work with you and your vet to ensure the most appropriate procedure and techniques are used for your horse. If you have a question or would like to refer a surgical case please contact us with the details below and a member of our surgical team (Christian Byrne, Peter Scholefield and Tim Booth) will be happy to help. 

Contact: Shelf Equine Hospital (01274 601534 or
Arthroscopy, tenoscopy and bursoscopy

This encompasses minimally-invasive key-hole surgery for the treatment of problems in:

  • Joints
  • Tendon sheaths
  • Bursae

This is a common type of surgery, for example used during treatment of lameness, infected joints or for cases with 'bone chips'. We have equipment to allow detailed examination and minimally-invasive treatment. In some cases we are able to perform arthroscopy standing.

Fracture repair & arthrodesis
We have equipment and expertise to perform fracture repair and arthrodesis (joint fusion) with modern techniques, such as with locking plates and transfixation casting.
Back surgery
Pathology of the thoracolumbar spine is frequently encountered and in some cases may be treated surgically, particularly for 'kissing spines'. Various procedures may be utilised including interspinous ligament desmotomy ('ligament cut') and dorsal spinous process ostecomy (removal of a section bone). These procedures are routinely performed under standing sedation. 
Respiratory surgery & overground endoscopy
We offer a range of surgical procedures for treatment of respiratory problems often related to the pharynx, larynx and sinuses. Many respiratory surgeries can now be performed under standing sedation including with minimally-invasive techniques using a scope and laser.

The practice has an overground endoscopy system, based at our Shelf Equine Hospital, which allows visualisation of the airway at exercise- this can assist in diagnosis of more complex airway disorders.

Laparoscopy is key-hole surgery of the abdomen, in many cases this is performed under standing sedation. This is a valuable technique that can be used for diagnosis and treatment of a variety of conditions, particularly of the gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts. Some common procedures include:

  • Ovariectomy
  • Cryptorchidectomy
  • Closure of the nephrosplenic space
  • Investigation of chronic colic
Colic surgery
Colic is a common reason to require emergency surgery. We have a team available to perform emergency surgery 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A range of causes of colic can require surgical intervention and these can vary in complexity. Following colic surgery horses are supported by intesive post-operative care at the Hospital.
Urogenital surgery
Castration is a routinely performed procedure, but in some cases with retained testis (cryptorchids or 'rigs') alternative approaches may be required to remove both testis. Ovariectomy in mares is typically performed laparoscopically. Other procedures related to the external genitalia of mares, geldings and stallions are also commonplace.

Surgery of the urinary tract is often performed in foals for correction of bladder related problems and occasionally in adults for removal of bladder stones. 
Opthalmic surgery
We have facilities to perform many opthalmic procedures, including for treatment of ocular emergencies. For more complex cases we regularly collaborate with opthalmology specialists who attend our Shelf Equine Hospital.
Other general surgery

Other frequently performed procedures include:

  • Neurectomy
  • Foot surgery (including keratoma surgery)
  • Wound repair
  • Skin grafting
  • Tumour removal (including sarcoids and melanomas- see section below)
  • Splint bone surgery

If you have any questions about a potential surgical procedure at Hird & Partners please feel free to contact us at our Shelf Equine Hospital and a member of our surgical team will be happy to help.

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Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic imaging plays a vital role in the investigation of many cases seen in an ambulatory and hospital setting. Imaging can also be performed on cases on a referral basis. Our vets will discuss the most appropriate imaging options for your horse- in many cases a combination of imaging modalities may be used.

Please feel free to contact any of our clinics directly discuss a potential case for diagnostic imaging, and a member of our team will be happy to help. For MRI enquires contact our Shelf Equine Hospital (01274 601534 or or our Cheshire Clinic (01829 708222 or

All our clinics are equipped with modern digital radiography systems, generating high-quality radiographs. Radiography is used in a wide range of cases such as lameness investigations and is frequently performed as part of a Pre-Purchase Examination.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
The Practice was early to adopt the use of MRI for examination of orthopaedic disease. Our Shelf Equine Hospital and Cheshire Clinic are now both equipped with standing MRI systems. MRI can provide a lot of information about both bone and soft tissue structures of the limb. MR imaging is typically performed of targeted regions such as the foot or the fetlock, based on the findings of lameness investigation.

Our clinics are equipped with a range of mobile and larger cart-based scanners to cater for all requirements. Ultrasound is frequently used during lameness investigations but also has many other applications for example examination of the abdomen in cases of colic or for assessment of the reproductive tract in mares.

Computed Tomography (CT)
Our Shelf Equine Hospital is equipped with a cone-beam CT system designed to rapidly image the foot, pastern and fetlock region under standing sedation. This imaging modality provides a detailed, 3 dimensional assessment, particiularly of bony structures.
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Medical Cases and Hospitalisation

We provide services for investigation and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions. This can be performed on a first-opinion basis for our own clients or by referral from other practices. In some cases investigation can be performed on an ambulatory basis, more severe cases are typically admitted to our Shelf Equine Hospital where we have a team on hand to deal with emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Many procedures and investigations can be performed at our Sheffield and Cheshire Clinics.

Our Shelf Equine Hospital has 35 in-patient stables and additional stabling for day-patients and isolation cases. Our stables are equipped to provide intensive care such as fluid therapy or heat lamps as required. We have onsite lab facilities to allow rapid turnaround for tests that are important for patient assessment. Our dedicated team work to provide a high standard of care to all our in-patients. If you have a case that requires medical investigation or hospitalisation please contact us at Shelf Equine Hospital with the details below and we will be happy to help. 

Contact: Shelf Equine Hospital (01274 601534 or

Colic is common and is seen on an ambulatory basis, with more severe cases admitted to our Shelf Eqine Hospital for monitoring and treatment. Additional investigation such as abdominal ultrasonography and abdominal fluid sampling can also be performed as required. Medical treatment often involves fluid therapy, pain-relief and in some cases targeted use of medication. Surgical treatment is required for correction of some types of colic. We are available to admit colic cases to the Hospital 24 hours a day.

Respiratory disease
We offer investigation and treatment of both upper and lower respiratory tract disease. This may include procedures such as endoscopy, ultrasonography and sampling of the airway. More severe cases such as pneumonia may require admission to the Hospital for intensive supportive care.
Urinary disease
Urinary disease is occasionally encountered in horses and can require investigation including ultrasonography, endoscopy of the urinary tract and urine sampling.
Liver disease
We offer a range of procedures for investigation of liver disease including blood sampling, ultrasonography of the abdomen and liver biopsy as required. These procedures are typically performed at our Shelf Equine Hospital.
We have equipment and facilities to perform investigation of cardiac conditions such as arrhythmias and murmurs. We work closely with veterinary cardiologists for investigation and treatment of more complex cases.

Gastroscopy is frequently performed for investigation of poor performance, 'girthiness' or recurrent colic. Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) is common and gastroscopy is a key method of assessing the condition and monitoring response to treatment. All our clinics are able to perform gastroscopy and regularly hold gastroscopy clinic days. 

A period of starvation is required prior to gastroscopy, you will be advised on what is required for your horse at the time of booking the procedure. Contact our clinics directly to organise an appointment for gastroscopy.

Other gastrointestinal disease
Horses have a complex gastrointestinal system and diseases such as colitis (inflammation of the large colon) are common. We have facilities and expertise to provide investigation and treatment of these cases. Horses with more severe disease such as diarrhoea and fluid loss may require admission to the Hospital for supportive care. Some cases can be infectious and may be isolated as a precaution.
We offer a range of options for investigation and treatment of skin disease. Sometimes skin disease can be an indication of more generalised disease (such as liver disease). Some dermatological testing can be performed in an ambulatory setting, but more advanced diagnostics such as intradermal skin testing (to identify causes of inflammatory responses) are best performed in a clinic.
Endocrine diseases such as Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID or Equine Cushings) are very common and can often be diagnosed and managed in an abmulatory setting. In some cases where diagnosis is more challening, additional testing or investigation in the clinic can be beneficial, particularly to establish the risk of future laminitis.

Neurological disease can affect the central (e.g. the brain) and peripheral (e.g. nerves) components of the nervous system. Neurological disease can present in diverse ways but a common feature is ataxia (incoordination) for example that seen in 'Wobblers'. A variety of methods may be used for investigation of neurological disease depending on the presentation. Some cases may be caused by infectious disease, so isolation is occasionally warranted.

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Dental disease is common and regular dental examinations (typically every 6-12 months) are important for maintenance of dental health. Our ambulatory teams provide routine dentistry services and use modern motorised equipment. As veterinary surgeons we are able to provide sedation and local anaesthesia, to ensure dental procedures are performed thoroughly and safely, in a manner that is comfortable for your horse. Additional routine services include procedures such as wolf tooth extraction.

In cases with more complex requirements or for investigation of dental pain, we can undertake additional investigation at the Hospital including oral endoscopy (use of a camera to examine the mouth) to allow assessment in greater detail. Imaging of the head and teeth can also assist investigation. We also perform more advanced procedures including tooth extraction (routine extractions and more complex surgical extractions) and periodontal disease treatment. Sinus disease is also common in association with dental problems- these cases are typically managed in combination with our surgical team and can often be treated with minimally-invasive methods. Our Sheffield Equine Clinic also runs regular dental clinics with James Roxburgh from Equine Veterinary Dentist Ltd.

Routine dental appointments can be arranged by contacting our clinics directly. For more advanced procedures contact a member of our team (Christian Byrne or Helena Ellis) at our Shelf Equine Hospital (01274 601534 or who will be happy to help.

Sarcoids, melanomas and other tumours

Tumours, particularly skin tumours, are relatively common in horses of all ages. Sarcoids are frequently seen across all breeds and colours, but melanomas are very common in grey horses and ponies. Other tumour types such squamous cell carcinoma or mast cell tumours are also seen, but less commonly. Every patient and tumour is different and we work with clients to identify and provide the optimal treatment for each case- some of the common procedures are outlined below.

Please feel free to discuss any suspected tumours with our vets. For further enquires about treatments offered at our Shelf Equine Hospital contact (01274 601534 or and a member of our surgical team will be happy to help.
Laser surgery

Our Shelf Equine Hospital and Cheshire Clinic are equipped with diode lasers to perform laser removal of various skin tumours. This can be a safe and effective method of managing many tumours, particularly sarcoids and melanomas. These procedures are often performed on a day-patient basis for simple cases.

Various chemotherapy treatments can be valuable for treatment of tumours, sometimes in combination with surgery. In some cases a topical treatment may be applied to the tumour chemotherapy may be administered using a localised injection or slow-release deposit. Some chemotherapy agents have important safety considerations, these will be discussed with you by our vets before commencing treatment.
Conventional surgery

In some situations conventional 'sharp' surgery may be the best option to allow safe tumour removal and a rapid healing process following surgery. Surgery may be performed under standing sedation or general anaesthesia depending on the location and nature of the tumour- our team will discuss the best plan for your horse with you.

Cryotherapy (freezing of tissue) can be particularly helpful for superficial skin tumours and may be combined with chemotherapy in some cases. 
Vaccination and immunotherapy
In some cases we recommend use of  immunotherapy. An example is the APAVAC® system that is used to form an autologous (generated from the individual patient) vaccine for melanomas, which we offer at our Shelf Equine Hospital. This can be combined with surgical treatment, with the aim to reduce the likelihood of future tumours developing. 
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Our team have experience across fields of fertility work:
  • Pre-breeding exams and mare management- We offer pre-breeding examination and testing of mares & stallions, and advice on biosecurity issues surrounding animals going to stud, including taking pre-breeding swabs. We can also provide guidance on timing of breeding individual mares.
  • Pregnancy diagnosis- This can be performed on the road our at our clinics, including the management of twin pregnancies.
  • Artificial insemination- We offer a comprehensive ambulatory fertility service and are a BEVA accredited practice for handling chilled and frozen semen. AI can be carried out at our Shelf Equine Hospital and on the road. We have a modern laboratory, with a heated microscope stage to allow accurate evaluation of semen prior to insemination.
  • Poor fertility investigation- There can be multiple causes of reduced fertility in mares. Our team are equipped to explore these issues, which may include include uterine lavages, swabs, and endometrial biopsies. Our vets will guide you on the most appropriate treatment in each case. Surgical treatment (for example in mares with poor perineal conformation) may be recommended in some cases.
  • Foaling- If problems arise, particularly around the time of foaling, our team is on hand to assist. This includes assistance with difficult foalings (requiring a caesarian section in some cases) through to management of sick foals. Where required, mares can be admitted to the Hospital for management of dystocia as an emergency.
  • Foal assessments- We can perform routine examination of new-born foals to check for any abnormalities and provide guidance on any additional treatment to optimise health of the foal. This can includes checks for antibody transfer. We are also happy to check recently foaled mares at the same time, including examination of the placenta if required.
  • Sick foals- We can provide intensive supportive care for sick foals and mares at our Shelf Equine Hospital.

Please feel free to contact the teams at each of our clinics if you have any concerns regarding your mare, foal or stallion. 

Routine health services

Our ambulatory vets provide a comprehensive on the road service from our Shelf (Halifax), Sheffield and Cheshire branches. We understand the importance of preventative healthcare and regular visits, to ensure that any health problems are identified and treated promptly. Some of our more commonly performed services are outlined below. Our ambulatory teams work closely with the vets at our Shelf Equine Hospital to ensure a seamless transition for cases admitted and discharged from the Hospital.

Contact any of our clinics directly should you have any questions regarding our routine health services or on the road visits:
Halifax: 01422 354106 or
Sheffield: 01709 911900 or
Cheshire: 01829 708222 or

We offer routine vaccinations (including Tetanus, Equine Influenza and Equine Herpes Virus) on the road and at our clinics. We would recommend all horses & donkeys are vaccinated for tetanus. Equine Influenza vaccination requirements can vary between sport governing bodies for competition horses, so we would recommend that you check specific requirements for your horse.

Passports & microchipping
All horses (and other equids) must have a passport and be microchipped. We perform these services on the road and at our clinics. We can provide standard passport applications or are happy to complete passport silhouettes and descriptions for other passport issuing authorities and breed societies.

Note that all owners should complete Section IX of the passport to declare that the horse IS NOT intended for human consumption- this is important to ensure that the horse can be treated with any medications it requires (for example phenylbutazone 'bute').
Euthanasia is a difficult subject and can occasionally be required in emergency situations. Our vets are available to support you through the decision making to ensure you are able to make the right decisions for your horse. Our vets provide a euthanasia service by lethal injection. We work closely with local equine cremation provides, who offer compassionate services for collection and cremation. Please contact any of our clinics should you have any queries regarding euthanasia, and a member of our team will gladly help.

Our vets provide bespoke advice on worming practices for individual horse owners and yards. We can assist with a range of testing including faecal testing and blood (serum) testing, as required. We can offer guidance on the most appropriate wormer for your horse and supply these directly.

Lameness & laminitis
Our experienced team can perform assessment of lameness, though more complex cases may need to be examined at our clinics. Common causes of lameness such as foot abscess or laminitis can often be managed on the yard. 

We provide a holistic service for management of conditions such as laminitis to ensure any risk factors such as metabolic disease (like Equine Metabolic Syndrome aka EMS) are appropriately managed.
Geriatric care
Older age brings a variety of considerations for horses including lameness, endocrine disease (such as PPID or Equine Cushings) and dental disease. Our experienced team provide indvidual assessments and care plans for older patients to ensure they are kept fit and healthy. If you have any questions or concerns about your older horse, feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to help.
Dental disease is frequently seen, and it is crucial to have regular dental check-ups (usually every 6-12 months) to maintain dental health. Our mobile teams offer routine dentistry services using high-quality motorised equipment. As veterinary surgeons, we can administer sedation and local anaesthesia to make sure that dental procedures are carried out comprehensively and safely, ensuring comfort for your horse. Other routine services we provide include removing wolf teeth. See the Dentistry section above for further details.
Out-of-hours service
All of our clinics offer a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year emergency service. Our teams have a wealth of experience of dealing with emergencies and cases can be referred to our Shelf Equine Hospital for further treatment as required.
Yard visits
Our Halifax and Sheffield ambulatory teams perform regular yard visits, which allow routine examinations/ procedures to be performed at competitive prices. Yards are allocated a visit day during which we waive the visit charge, with the only cost being applied for the treatment administered. It is not possible for clients to select a specific time for these visits

We ask that clients contact reception at least 24 hours in advance to request veterinary attention during yard visits.

Contact our branches directly or check our Facebook pages for details.
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© 2024 Hird & Partners Veterinary Surgeons. All Rights Reserved