There’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ working day for equine vets. From police raids, dead bodies and unexpected babies — anything can happen when tasked with keeping the horse world in good shape, as the following vets reveal.
1. “I X-rayed a dead man”
Katie Robinson, Hampden Veterinary Hospital, Bucks: “I’ve had to do a few odd things as a vet that haven’t even been animal related. One such crazy thing was X-raying the body of a man who was shot by police because of threatening behaviour. Unfortunately the bullet hit his liver and he died in surgery. They couldn’t find the bullet and needed to borrow a mobile X-ray kit. What they failed to say was that they also wanted me to X-ray him.”
2. “Every bill was responded to with a signed photo”
Ken Anderson, E C Straiton & Partners Veterinary Hospital, Staffordshire: “I’m often asked who my most famous clients are and I’ll never forget when I used to treat a racehorse for a former Coronation Street star. Every bill was responded to with a signed photo and a request to reduce the bill.”
3. Don’t forget the handbrake…
Anonymous: “I was called out to a horse who was stuck in a ditch and needed sedating before it could be hoisted to safety. I pulled up in my 4×4 and parked, not far away, on a slight slope. I was assessing the situation when there was suddenly a huge crash — I turned around to find that my handbrake had failed and my vehicle had rolled backwards into a ditch. Somehow in all the commotion the horse managed to climb out of the ditch — none the worse for wear — but I still had to wait for my car to be rescued.”
4. “She hadn’t told anyone she was pregnant”
Anonymous: “Before X-raying a horse, we have to be certain that any females in the treatment room are not pregnant, because radiation can be dangerous to the unborn foetus. I once had a thoroughbred in the clinic and his owner was a young lady who had been accompanied to the practice by her dad. When I asked the pregnancy question the only reply was a smiling ‘of course not’ from the father. I tried again, but the girl remained silent. Things started to get a bit awkward so I sent them both out and asked a colleague to hold the horse instead. The father was much quieter when they came back in — turns out the pregnancy was totally unexpected and she hadn’t told anyone yet!”
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5. “Her house was raided by the police”
Andrew Mills, Connaught House, Wolverhampton: “I was called out by an owner who was married to a notorious gangster. She’d bought an Arab because it had a pretty little dished face, but it had been kicked in the head and developed an ugly lump. There was no way to settle it down other than time, but she wanted a second opinion. While we sat waiting for my colleague to arrive, she showed me a scrapbook of cuttings from when her house was raided by the police and her husband was tasered. I sat there thinking ‘get me out of here’. My colleague eventually arrived, took one look at the horse and instead of agreeing with me that it would improve in time, simply said ‘it’s really ugly isn’t it?’ I wanted to die!”
6. “I put the pony in the boot of my car”
Richard Stephenson, Pool House Equine Clinic: “I went out to an American miniature pony with severe laminitis one evening, and rather than going to the bother of getting out the X-ray equipment from the practice, I picked the pony up, put it in the boot of my car and drove it to the small animal hospital where I X-rayed it on the table and trimmed its feet.”
Read the full feature and much more in the latest issue of H&H Ask The Vet, on sale now in WHSmith, supermarkets, independent newsagents and online here.