Baileys Horse Feeds Vet of the Year 2023

Welcome to the Horse & Hound Awards 2023, which are back for the eighth year to celebrate the stars of equestrianism, in partnership with NAF

  • Your pick of the skilled professionals who make so much of an impact on our horses’ lives, and consequently on our wellbeing too

    Sophie Fulton of SF Equine Vets in Essex has been crowned Baileys Horse Feeds Vet of the Year 2023.

    What made you become a vet? “I always wanted to be a vet – as a child, I loved animals and made a pretend vet practice in the spare room with my teddies. I have a keen interest in sports horses as I have a passion for showjumping (I still compete regularly), so moved to Essex to work for an FEI showjumping vet. I set up my own practice in early 2019 and have been very fortunate that I have fantastic clients and have been able to make my dream come true.”

    A heartwarming story from 2023: “I successfully bred a foal this year while my mare was having a holiday as I was pregnant. I’m pleased to say my baby loves animals just as much as I do.”

    A satisfied client says: “Sophie always goes above and beyond, she’s never late and is always giving down-to-earth and understandable advice. Sophie has treated a variety of different ailments on our horses, from a sarcoid on an eyelid to stomach ulcers, to Cushing’s to lameness – and each time she has quickly diagnosed the problem and treated it successfully.”

    Our congratulations also go to the other three vets, who made the shortlist for the Baileys Horse Feeds Vet of the Year 2023. They are:

    Hannah Mitchell, Belmont Farm and Equine Vets, Herefords

    What made you become a vet? “I always knew I wanted to work with animals, having grown up on a farm, but the desire to become a vet became cemented when my childhood pony developed laminitis. Seeing the exceptional care provided to my pony and to us as her owners from our vet really fuelled the furnace.”

    A heartwarming story from 2023: “Attending a pregnant mare who was showing signs of mild colic three months off foaling. These calls are tricky to diagnose, since there is a large foal sitting in the way and two lives at stake. It was quickly apparent that the mare was suffering from a rare condition called uterine torsion, where their uterus twists around with the foal inside. Rapid referral to a hospital for surgery is vital to save both lives and happily this mare went on to have a healthy large colt foal.”

    A satisfied client says: “I have never met a vet so caring and professional. She cared for my horse in the last stages of her life and I requested she was the one to put her to sleep. Everyone sings her praises and I wouldn’t trust anyone else to take care of my horse.”

    Jo Gwynne, Field Equine Vets, Worcs

    What made you become a vet? “I inherited my love of horses from my mum and like most pony-mad kids, I wanted to be a vet. The first time I recall really being inspired, though, was when I was 12 and my pony had laminitis. I made slippers out of carpet and we nursed him, but sadly in the end we had to say goodbye. The vet was kind and explained the X-rays so that I understood it all. I remember wanting to do that; to help horses and their owners when they needed it, even if it wasn’t a happy ending.”

    A heartwarming story from 2023: “A local legend of a pony called Titch, who survived a very serious injury. All of the hard work was of course done by his owner, but seeing him running round his paddock with his mate now gives me the best feeling.”

    A satisfied client says: “Jo has a great eye and a straightforward, pragmatic approach and deals with both horses and humans in a friendly and professional manner. As a grassroots rider herself, Jo understands how much our horses mean to us and treats them all with kindness and respect.”

    Paddy Macandrew, Pool House Equine, Staffs

    What made you become a vet? “I grew up in the city of Edinburgh, but I learnt to ride at school and we have family in Ireland and Northumberland who are farmers. I knew I was never going to be a farmer, but I did enjoy going out with the vets, so that’s how it started.”

    A heartwarming story from 2023: “We have been treating a racehorse that was injured two years ago. He fell and injured his shoulder, and all the muscle just fell away. It’s been a long recovery while we treated him, and his trainer nursed him back. On his third start back, almost two years to the day after his injury, he won at Uttoxeter. He’s called Lookforarainbow.”

    A satisfied client says: “A kind, calm person, compassionate with the horse and has a kind understanding manner with the owners. He saved my horse when he did his tendon and was behaving dangerously with kissing spines – he’s come back perfectly and is in full work at 21. Everyone I know speaks very highly of Paddy – an exceptional vet.”

    Previous Vet of the Year Award winners

    Previous winners of this award include:

    • Emily Willoughby of EW Equine Vets
    • Elizabeth Frew of Kings Bounty Equine
    • Tim Randle
    • Ken Anderson
    • Alistair Field
    • Natalie McGoldrick

    About the Horse & Hound Awards 2023

    The Horse & Hound Awards returned for the eighth year in a row, running again in partnership with NAF.

    As ever, the H&H Awards winners were nominated and voted for by you. We recognised both the big names who have made 2023 special and the unsung heroes who make it possible for all of us to enjoy equestrian sport and our horses, at whatever level.

    This year, we hosted a glittering ceremony at Dallas Burston Polo Club in Warwickshire where some 300 people, including Olympic and Paralympic superstars, will gather to enjoy a glamorous evening of champagne, winner reveals, Oscar-style speeches and dancing.

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