Introduction of Compulsory Microchipping for Horses and Ponies

From 1 October 2020, it will be a legal requirement in England for all equines (horses, ponies and donkeys) regardless of age (except some semi-wild populations), to be identifiable with the insertion of a microchip. Failure to do so will be a criminal offence.

Microchipping has a number of benefits for both horses and owners.

  • lt will greatly increases the chances of a horse being reunited with their owner if it is lost or stolen.
  • Assisting with welfare cases i.e. to find an owner if a horse is abandoned or mistreated.
  • Tracking a horse through the food chain.
  • Providing information to assist if there is a disease outbreak.
  • It is also a permanent link between the equine and its paper passport

All microchips must be implanted by a vet, it is an offence for anyone to insert a microchip into an equine other than a vet.

Contact the practice to arrange for your pony or horse to be checked for the presence of a microchip.

Microchipping Action Plan:

  1. Check your horse or pony is compliant. 
  2. Look on their Equine Passport to see if a microchip has already been inserted, which will be the case in most animals born after 2009 when Passport issuing was synchronised with microchip insertion. 
  3. Check the microchip is on a Database such as the Central Equine Database: 
  • Check the microchip is registered in YOUR name with YOUR contact details, not the last owners!

Microchip numbers are unique 15 digit numbers incorporating their country of origin. Microchips are registered by their manufacturer to the veterinary surgeon and then need to be registered by the Owner on a National Database for future reference.

  • If an equine is already microchipped, owners must ensure that its details are correctly recorded on the Central Equine Database, by accessing the online Digital Stable.

Digital Stable

The Digital Stable seems to be a way of introducing a Central Database of Horses and Ponies in England.  The digital platform allows you to log on and register your animals.  You can also use the platform to check whether your microchip has been registered previously and hopefully that the details tally with your horse or pony!

Equine Passports

All horses and ponies should have been issued with an Equine Passport from 2007 and with a microchip and passport from 2009. The British Horse Society has a good advice section with numerous question and answers, by following the link

In short your horse or pony should have an Equine Passport which contains details of ownership, a microchip number and a completed silhouette illustrating markings in conjunction with a written description. The Passport will also contain a section relevant to the infamous ‘Human consumption’ issue where you should declare whether (or not) your animal is intended for Human consumption.

If you have concerns about any aspect of the Microchip registration or Equine Passport application process please contact the Practice to discuss further.


We often see a rise in the incidence of choke with the onset of autumn.  Choke is a blockage of the OESOPHAGUS (food pipe).  The oesophagus is a muscular tube,  leading from the mouth to the stomach, which moves food along with muscular contractions, like a conveyor belt. On occasions this coordinated movement can interrupted (spooked whilst eating) or overwhelmed (gulping down too much or too dry food) leading to CHOKE.

Classically choke is seen in cases where the evening feed is later than normal, the horse or pony rushes across the field to the feed bucket and gulps down dinner…. poor dentition can be a contributing factor.  Breaking into the feed room is another issue where a pre-soaked food is ingested.

The clinical signs of choke are easy to see with normally an immediate change in behaviour.  Food material, +/- saliva, will be produced from the nostrils and possibly mouth.  Saliva is a frothy, white/ clear fluid and very slippery.  Occasionally the horse may cough and possibly become stressed, sweating though often most horses and ponies reside quickly to the choke problem and remain calm.  Periodic contractions of the neck are seen, like a concertina effect, tied in with the discharge of food material/ saliva from the nostrils.


  • Take away any food or water from the stable.
  • Re assure the pony/ horse and try not to panic.
  • Give the vet a ring.
  • Generally most chokes self clear in 30-40 mins.
  • More persistent chokes will require veterinary intervention to remove the blockage.
  • Secondary complications to choke include coughing and localised damage to the oesophagus which may need further treatment.
  • Maintain a regular feeding routine and slow feeding down with shallow feed bowels.
  • Regular dental checks to ensure good chewing action.




With autumn upon us, fallen acorns are once again the talking point.  Actually ALL parts of the oak tree can be poisonous to most animals, not just the acorns, including the leaves, stems and oak blossoms when consumed in significant quantities.

A few horses and ponies seem to have a particular passion of acorns.  Even those on an otherwise adequate diet can develop a taste for them and actively seek out fallen acorns.

The toxicity of oak is due to compounds known as tannins.  Once eaten these are converted to toxins which affect the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.  Though most plants contain tannins, oaks contain particularly high levels.  Green acorns actually contain more than the riper, brown acorns.  Ripe acorns that have been soaked by rain will be lower in tannin as the toxin is water soluble and leaches out.  Adequate access to other foods, such as hay and grass, will help buffer and dilute the tannin effect.

Clinical signs of acorn toxicity in the horse affect the gastrointestinal tract and kidneys.  There may be a loss in appetite, depression and low grade abdominal pain in mild cases, escalating to bloody diarrhoea or urine, rectal straining and constipation in more severe cases.  Faeces may be seen to contain acorn parts.

Unfortunately there is no specific antidote for oak poisoning and treatment is limited to supportive care.  Monitor fluid intake.  Liquid paraffin or laxatives may help remove lingering acorns still in the guts.  However in severe cases the prognosis is guarded particularly where the kidneys have been affected or the gut damage is so severe then it is not always possible to save these horses.

Do not allow animals further access to fallen acorns.

·         either by fencing off areas of your paddock or stabling where possible.

·         removing fallen acorns and their leaves by hand or with mechanical sweeper,

·         rolling fallen acorns into the ground using a heavy roller.

Denistry…. a routine part of daily practice

Dentistry is a routine part of daily practice.  Ensuring your horse’s teeth are kept in good working order will promote their healthy well being by improving performance both under saddle and nutritionally.

Equine molar teeth are expected to grind tough hay, softer grass and cereals throughout their life.  These teeth are constructed to provide a variable grinding surface to “open up” these feeds as the first stage of the digestive process. As a consequence of continual wear, lips or edges will occur on the check (buccal) side of the upper molars and on the tongue (lingual) side of the lower molars.  Other malformations such as hooks, excessive transverse ridges, steps and ramps can occur due to malocclusion issues, where upper and lower arcades are out of step in their grinding action.

Here the first upper molars has developed substantial overgrowths or hooks.  This was due to misalignment of the dental arcade and will substantially reduce sideways jaw movement. The hook was reduced using a motorised drill.

Your horses teeth should be examined at least once yearly, say with the annual vaccination and general health check.

If your horse or pony is nervous then a short acting sedative can be given.  Sedation allows a safer environment to allow a full examination of ALL the teeth and ensures ALL the molar teeth are treated.

Wolf teeth are usually present just in front of the first upper molars.  They can come in a variety of sizes and can often interfere with the bit and ridden exercise.  Hence they are often removed, though not always.  Sedation and local anesthesia is required to remove wolf teeth, whose have long roots can snap if not correctly removed.

Extractions of loose teeth can often be carried out on site, using sedation and local anesthetic if required.  These will generally be older teeth with little crown and short roots.  Teeth that require more intricate extraction due to diseased roots or decayed crowns can be brought into the clinic for treatment.

Introducing the Whitchurch Equine Veterinary Practice Supplement range:

Introducing the Whitchurch Equine Veterinary Practice Supplement range:

Whitchurch Equine Veterinary Practice is able to supply a limited selection of Supplements to aid your horses or ponies well being.  The supplements cover the major problems seen in practice, such as Digestive problems, Joint inflammation, Digestive upsets, Post Viral Symptoms and Poor Hoof growth.

  • Veterinary Gastric Supplement

Gastric Supplement is a unique supplement for daily feeding to Horses prone to gastric disturbances. Gastric Supplement will assist in maintaining optimum gut health and function, allowing maximum utilisation of feed. Gastric Supplement supplies a unique formulation of prebiotics, amino acids, Sodium Algenate and specific minerals necessary to aid the recovery and maintenance of a healthy digestive tract.

  • Veterinary Probiotic

Veterinary Probiotic is a  nutritional supplement containing probiotics and prebiotics promoting digestive and gastric health. Veterinary Probiotic may be used during diarrhoea, following deworming, digestive disorders and either before or after antibiotic treatment, or at times of stress. Contains high levels of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (Sc 47) @ 1x1012cfu/kg . Veterinary Probiotic is mint flavoured and highly palatable, quite in contrast with some other probiotics marketed, which have a foul-smelling yeast odour.

  • Veterinary Glucosamine

For those looking for a premium grade straight Glucosamine HCl 99%,Veterinary Glucosamine is the answer. Glucosamine HCl is one of the components necessary for the nutritional maintenance of a healthy cartilage matrix.

  • Hoof supplement

A superior feed supplement for horses with poor hoof condition, Veterinary Hoof Supplement contains very high levels of Biotin (37.5mg per daily serving). Veterinary Hoof Supplement provides all the nutrients necessary to protect and nourish every layer within the hoof horn. This Sulphur enriched formula, also boasting significant levels of Methionine, MSM and Zinc, will ensure that important nutrients are supplied to the horses’ diet, to optimise hoof growth and improve the integrity of the hoof. The product is guaranteed 100% customer satisfaction when horses are taken through the full recommended 150 day course.

  • Veterinary Blood Tonic

A highly absorbable and extremely palatable Iron, B-complex and Cobalt-enriched syrup on a Sorbitol base. Recommended for performance horses, Veterinary Blood Tonic will also act as an exceptional pick-me-up for post viral uses and post-operative cases where Horses may have lost appetite or for Horses which have poor overall condition. High levels of Vitamin B12 ensure red blood cell formation is and important metabolic functions are maintained.