Cornwall’s first equine veterinary hospital was opened officially last month, after four years of planning.

Penmellyn Veterinary Group in St Columb Major has facilities including an operating theatre, X-ray and ultrasound facilities, an intensive care unit, an isolation unit, and an equine consultation stable for non-invasive procedures.

“The practice started before 1900,” said Peter Murrish, one of five partners at Penmellyn. “We moved in here last September, but it was opened officially by the Princess Royal on 29 May, after the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons [RCVS] designated us an accredited equine hospital.”

The mixed practice has 36 staff, with equine nurses providing 24hr supervision and four equine vets.

Mr Murrish added: “We’re already having a lot more horses coming in — people seem to want to come and get everything done at once, vaccinations, teeth and so on, and it’s much easier to do lameness tests and X-rays at the same place.”

The hospital cost £1.8million to build — 60% of which was funded by the Penmellyn Group and 40% from an Objective One grant — consisting of European and DEFRA funding.

“To get the funding, we have to fulfil a number of criteria over the next two years, including reaching the RCVS equine hospital standard — now achieved,” said practice manager Anne Thompson.

There are only 14 accredited equine hospitals in the UK. A spokesman for the RCVS confirmed that Penmellyn is accredited to the highest standard on the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme, a voluntary scheme launched in January 2005.

Local stud owner Angela Wise, from Dalcotes Stud in White Cross near Newquay, told H&H the hospital was a “definite plus” for all owners in Cornwall. She uses Penmellyn for studwork, and used to have to travel up to Bristol for hospital facilities.

“It’s bad enough having a sick animal without being referred up country with it for treatment,” she said. “Penmellyn is now just a 10min drive away for me.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (21 June, 07)