- We strive to provide complete care for our patients. Learn more about all the services we provide.
We offer the convenience of outpatient visits as well as hospitalization for intensive care, medical and surgical cases.
Both at the clinic and in the field, we provide tailored diagnostics and treatment suited to your horse’s needs to address and reduce health risks.
Sound Equine has fully equipped mobile veterinary units available for farm calls.
Integrative Equine Medicine, Wellness, Internal Medicine, and Preventative Care
We have the facilities, experience, and diagnostic tools to help make the correct diagnosis and provide progressive treatment options, including stem cell therapy, IRAP, PRP, and extra corporal shockwave therapy.
Dr. Hills has recently completed the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS) course. He is pleased to offer acupuncture treatment and diagnostics as a stand-alone, or as complementary to ongoing therapy. Commonly treated conditions include allergic reactions, dermatitis, sore-back horses, stiff necks, TMJ pain, laminitis, caudal heel pain syndrome, chronic diarrhea, and colic. Dr. Hills is happy to field questions about possible integration of acupuncture with ongoing difficult cases.
Healthy hooves are a vital part of a horse's overall well-being. Damage or disease affecting these essential weight-bearing structures can not only lead to pain, lameness and secondary infection, but it can also make a horse more vulnerable to trips and falls that can cause traumatic injuries. In addition to having any obvious signs of hoof trouble or lameness diagnosed and treated, owners should have their horses' hooves checked and routine maintenance performed at regular intervals to ensure optimum wellness. An experienced equine veterinarian can make all the difference in your horse's health and quality of life.
Preventing Painful Conditions in Horses with Hoof Care
A hoof is a horny outgrowth that serves as a kind of natural "shoe," allowing a horse to walk on a variety of terrain without injury. It connects to the skeleton via a layer of tissue known as the lamina. If the lamina becomes weakened or damaged, the connection of the hoof to the coffin bone in the foot can become compromised, a condition known as laminitis. Common causes of laminitis include excessive riding over hard ground, nutritional imbalances, obesity, infection or Cushing’s disease.
Laminitis can cause extreme discomfort and render a horse lame in short order. Treatment of the condition involves rest in addition to addressing the underlying problem. Supplements, a special diet, sedative and painkilling medications, or special supports may be prescribed to treat laminitis. Correct, regular trimming by your equine vet can help prevent some of the damage that can promote laminitis.
Regular cleaning of the hooves can help prevent infection, while proper trimming can prevent the hooves from cracking and opening the way for bacteria to enter. Treatment for thrush typically involves the application of an iodine solution or topical prescription medicines. Severely damaged tissues may need to be removed, after first removing that section of hoof, to allow for the growth of new, healthy tissue. During this time the horse may require special shoeing to protect these tissues as they reform.
Occasional hoof injuries are to be expected given the hard work these structures must perform. Soreness, abscesses, bruises and other conditions should be taken seriously, and the owner should contact his equine veterinarian for an evaluation. A properly equipped and staffed equine clinic can not only provide prompt, professional treatment but can also advise the owner on how to help minimize the occurrence of similar injuries in the future. An equine vet can also recommend best practices for weight management, diet and nutrition, hoof cleaning and hygiene -- all factors in healthy hooves.
Digital radiography, or digital X-ray, is a wonderful new development in equine veterinary practice. Our portable digital imaging system provides immediate high-resolution images that can be enhanced to reveal problems that might not be seen using traditional X-ray technology. Digital x-rays reduce exam time because each image is captured, verified, and clinically reviewed in seconds. Clients receive on-site diagnosis that enables on the spot, stall side, diagnostic and therapeutic decision making.
Our portable digital ultrasound unit allows detailed visualization of soft tissue structures including tendon and ligament injury, lungs, eyes, and internal organs.
We also use digital ultrasound in fetal monitoring.
We have a well-equipped laboratory in the clinic which allows for informed decision making as well as thorough monitoring of intensive care, chronic or surgical cases.
Dental care for horses differs significantly from that of humans or even cats and dogs. Due to their vegetarian diet and manner of eating, a horse’s teeth work more like a gristmill, constantly grinding and mashing down their food. The horse’s teeth are therefore designed to keep erupting; an adaptation to the manner in which they eat.
Horses usually need a dental checkup every six- twelve months to have their teeth examined and treated in order for the horse’s bite to remain healthy, and so that their food is evenly ground for healthy swallowing and optimal digestion. Newborn foals should have their bite and conformation checked, even as the first teeth erupt, in order to evaluate and address possible bite issues.
What You Need to Know about Horse Dental Care
As a horse owner or someone who works with horses, it is important to know what signs to look for which may indicate dental disease. If your horse seems to be reluctant to eat, or shows any signs of pain, head tossing or head tilting while eating, these may be signs that his or her teeth have developed sharp points or hooks that are causing irritation.
If your horse seems to drop a lot of food while eating, the molars may not be meeting up properly, allowing food to escape. If your horse chokes or gags on food, this can also be a sign that the teeth are not grinding the food down enough and that there is a problem that requires evaluation. A combination of bad breath and difficulty eating can signal that your horse may be suffering from horse periodontal disease.
During a horse dental checkup, the veterinarian will likely sedate your horse in order to perform a thorough exam and treatment. A speculum will be used to keep the horse’s mouth open so that your veterinarian can rinse out and examine each tooth, the gums, tongue and all of the mouth’s tissues for inflammation, odors, lesions, etc. You will be provided with a chart showing issues seen during the exam and treatment provided. We work closely with Dr. DeLorey who is an equine dental specialist. More complicated cases may be referred to her to be managed cooperatively with our health care team.
Dental health is very important for good horse health and wellness. Be sure to have your veterinarian check your horse’s teeth twice a year, and do not hesitate to call if any problems arise between scheduled appointments.
We treat many soft tissue and orthopedic cases, from routine castrations to neurectomies, hernias and cryptorchids. Cases are monitored with EKG, blood pressure, pulse-oximetry and blood gases as necessary. We also offer ovariectomy and other reproductive surgeries, as well as dental and sinus surgery. We provide management to all surgery cases.
We offer endoscopic evaluations of the upper respiratory tract to help evaluate bleeding, guttural pouch disease and laryngeal/tracheal/pharyngeal problems. Imaging of the upper GI system is the gold standard for diagnosis and follow up. Ulcers are a common performance limiting problem in horses which can result in weight loss, behavior change and colic.
Imaging of the upper airway and GI tract is vital to our mission of "reveling the truth" about areas that are not visible from the outside.
We perform thorough pre-purchase ancillary exams. A written report is provided, and the findings are discussed in detail. Additional diagnostics–lab work, digital x-rays, endoscopy, gastroscopy, and ultrasound–are also available as part of the exam.
Breeding and Reproductive Health
Ultrasound is available for breeding management, pregnancy diagnosis and fetal monitoring. We have packaged programs for artificial insemination with cooled or frozen semen. We have the ability to do breeding soundness exams for mares pre-breeding, treat mares with difficulty getting bred, monitor high risk mares during their pregnancy and assist with difficult foal delivery at our hospital.
From conception to foaling, horse breeding today is carefully managed through modern technology. Whether you are breeding horses for racing, competition or the family farm, a firm understanding of the breeding and foaling process will ensure a successful outcome.
While wild horses typically breed and foal in mid to late spring, domesticated breed for competition requires horses to be foaled as close to January 1st as possible for maximum competitive advantage in the Northern Hemisphere. To help stimulate the ovulation process during winter, keep your mare under barn lights to mimic a longer day. A mare signals that she is receptive to the stallion by urinating in the presence of a stallion and raising her tail to reveal the vulva.
Once an egg is fertilized, it will remain in the oviduct for 5.5 days before descending into the uterus; fixation will occur on day 17. By day 21, the embryo will be visible on a trans-rectal ultrasound, with a heartbeat detectable by day 25. The placenta will form around day 40 to 45 of pregnancy. The sex can be determined using ultrasound on day 70. The entire gestation process is approximately 11 months.
Advanced planning will make the foaling process go as easily as possible for both you and your mare. Mares should be immunized four weeks in advance of foaling with vaccines specifically approved for pregnant mares. These vaccines will stimulate the mare to produce antibodies, which will be passed to the foal in the mare’s colostrum. Most mares can handle foaling on their own, it is important to alert your veterinarian that your mare is ready to best be of assistance if necessary. The majority of mares will foal 330 to 340 days from breeding, however some may foal as early as 320 days.
Prior to foaling, prepare a foaling stall. Foaling happens quickly once it begins, so closely monitor your mare in the days leading up to the expected foaling date. Following foaling, a mare will lick the foal to clean it and stimulate circulation. A new foal should be able to stand and get milk from its mother within an hour of birth.
We treat emergency, routine, and chronic eye cases. We have the ability to measure intraocular pressure. We also use ultrasound to evaluate the eye, especially in cases of suspected retinal detachment, cataracts, or lens luxation.
Lameness in horses can be a "pain" for horse and owner alike. Not only can it result in poor performance but chronic lameness can result in a cycle of further lameness and pain. Equine practitioners spend a lot of there time assessing for lameness/gait abnormalities and treating with an ever expanding repertoire of therapeutic options.
Preventing, Diagnosing and Treating Equine Lameness
Preventing lameness is always preferable to treating it afterward, but this is not always possible. Ensure your horse has proper training and conditioning for daily tasks, proper farrier work and hoof care, and regular veterinary checkups. Sound nutrition, proper rest and hydration are also critical for avoiding lameness due to health problems.
When prevention does not work, however, it is important to notice the signs of lameness promptly and to engage the help of your veterinarian right away. Your equine veterinarian will first watch your horse as he or she walks from a distance, and from all sides to evaluate any asymmetries showing the horse overcompensating in one area because of injury to another area. Then, the vet examines your horse by touch (“palpation”) to evaluate tissue tenderness, texture, heat, inflammation, etc. in the joints, bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
The veterinarian will also bend and flex the legs and check your horse’s hooves carefully. Even sound is important during these evaluations: the vet will actually listen to the sound and rhythm of your horse’s gait for unevenness. Nerve blocks, joint blocks and other diagnostic tests can further isolate the area with the problem. Further evaluation often involves imaging; xrays, ultrasound, and other options to help best guide and characterize the cause of lameness.
After isolating the cause, your equine vet can recommend a course of treatment. Of course, treatments vary widely, ranging from rest, anti-inflammatory medications and a period of rest and rehab tailored to the specific diagnosis and temperament of the horse. As equine veterinary science continues to advance, newer treatments are coming out all the time to help even horses with severe lameness. Everything from stem-cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma to laser therapy and alternative treatments such as acupuncture and equine chiropractic care are possible options.
The most important thing you can do is work to prevent the situations that can lead to lameness—and if lameness strikes, act fast with the help of an experienced equine veterinarian.
Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a new technology for treating equine musculoskeletal problems, soft-tissue injuries, and bone injuries. ESWT is a non-invasive modality used to return horses to work more quickly.
ESWT works from outside the body (extracorporeal). The machine generates high-intensity shock or pressure waves, which pulse into the injured tissue. It helps alleviate pain, swelling, and accelerates the healing process. This technology has become very useful for the management of ligamentous and tendon injuries.
Stem Cell Therapy
Equine tendon, ligament, and joint injuries are some of the most debilitating, and some of the most frequently seen, in clinical veterinary practice. Such injuries lead to joint instability, degenerative joint disease, and reduced performance and lack of use.
Traditional therapies address the inflammatory process and pain, yet have not successfully addressed the regeneration of these tissues that often result in scar tissue formation and partial or full loss of function.
Stem cells currently are obtained from the horse’s own bone marrow or fat, which are then processed and re-injected back into the injured tissue, providing the opportunity for a stronger, more durable repair of the injured tissue.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
PRP therapy offers a promising solution to accelerate healing of tendon injuries and osteoarthritis naturally, without subjecting the patient to significant risk. PRP is an emerging treatment in a new health sector known as “Orthobiologics.” The philosophy is to merge cutting edge technology with the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Platelets were initially known to be responsible for blood clotting. In the last 20 years we have learned that when activated in the body, platelets release healing proteins called growth factors. There are many growth factors with varying responsibilities, however cumulatively they accelerate tissue and wound healing. When injected into inflamed or injured tissue, we are able to deliver a powerful cocktail of growth factors that can dramatically enhance tissue recovery. This procedure can be done on an outpatient basis at the clinic.
IRAP Therapy (Interleukin -1 Receptor Antagonist Protein)
“Therapeutic proteins from the patient… for the patient.” IRAP™ therapy utilizes your patient’s own blood and natural healing mechanisms. The patented irap syringe produces autologous conditioned serum (ACS), which contains active quantities of anti-inflammatory and regenerative cytokines. The IRAP syringe contains specially treated glass beads that stimulate the white blood cells to produce the anti-inflammatory and regenerative cytokines. The whole blood is incubated overnight and then centrifuged to collect serum. The serum produced is then re-injected back into the patient, be it an orthopedic joint, a chronically sore navicular area, or an inflamed tendon sheath, working to decrease the inflammatory process and thus helping to improve comfort and slowing the degenerative process.
Horses can encounter health issues just as any other type of animal can. Fortunately, the great majority of these issues can be prevented through regular wellness care and proper management. Horse owners will be pleased to know that our clinic can provide resources to help investigate and treat both routine as well as more intensively manages cases.
Vaccinations, Dental Care and More for Your Equine Animals
We work with you to help tailor a thoughtful and responsible preventative health program for both the individual and "the herd".
Horses receive and examination at the time of vaccines which includes evaluation of body condition score, condition of feet, listening to heart and lungs and for evidence of sand in the abdomen. A discussion of well being/eating efficiency/behavior will also take place which will lead to addressing specific concerns such as lameness, visual deficits, dental and skin disease or other issues.
Vaccinations of Horses Provides Essential Protection. Every animal comes into contact with potentially dangerous viruses and bacterial infections in the course of daily life, and horses are no different. This makes vaccinations a critical component of a comprehensive horse wellness plan. Horse vaccines provide protection against several dangerous and even potentially deadly diseases by stimulating a horse’s immune system.
There are many vaccinations for horses, some of which are considered essential for all horses (core), while others are recommended depending on the individual horse and his or her lifestyle (non-core). The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends that all horses receive vaccinations against rabies, tetanus, West Nile Virus, eastern/western equine encephalitis, influenza, and rhinopneumonitis.
Non-core horse vaccinations can be administered by your veterinarian based on how “at-risk” your horse is for those diseases. You and your veterinarian will need to discuss what diseases are prevalent in your area, your horse’s health condition, and your horse’s lifestyle. If your horse travels frequently for shows or works in areas where certain pathogens are endemic, your horse will be best served by getting extra vaccinations to protect against those diseases.
When does a horse need to be vaccinated? Generally speaking, foals born to vaccinated mares (who pass on some immunity at birth for a short period of time) should start an initial core vaccination schedule at six months. They will need boosters when they are seven and eight (or nine) months old. For the course of the horse’s life, they will also need booster shots, some each year, some more or some less frequently, depending up on the particular inoculation.
Talk with your horse’s veterinarian today to make sure your horse’s vaccination schedule is current and providing him or her with the protection needed to stay healthy.
Horses have unique feeding and nutrition needs in the mammal world, and a good understanding of how they digest and use food is necessary to keeping your horse healthy. First of all, the horse’s large size belies its relatively small stomach. Its digestive system was designed to digest small amounts of forage all day long—not for eating two or three large meals at fixed times during the day. Also, the horse’s digestive tract is very sensitive to impurities. Because they cannot vomit, there is no way for horses to quickly eliminate contaminated food from their bodies. This can lead to colic, which is extremely painful and can be deadly. So it is important to provide your horse a clean, slow and steady supply of nutritious food and plenty of clean, fresh water. The horse’s long, complex and sensitive digestive tract also requires that you never abruptly change his or her diet.
Horse Nutrition Needs at Various Life Stages
Your horse needs the following basic nutritional elements to stay healthy: water, carbohydrates (for energy), protein (for tissue support), minerals and vitamins.
It is important to ensure that a clean, bacteria- and algae-free source of fresh water is constantly available to your horse all day, all year round to prevent dehydration. Keeping your horse well watered in the summer is important, but also be sure that your horse’s water source does not freeze in the winter.
Typically, horses get their energy from eating grasses and hay in small amounts throughout the day. Not all horses have the same energy intake requirements. Lactating mares, growing horses and horses with a heavy work or exercise load need the most energy, whereas older horses and horses that do not have a heavy workload need less. It is important to find the right balance for your horse by working with your veterinarian. Any sudden changes in diet, particularly a rise in the level of sugars and starches, can lead to dangerous colic, colitis or laminitis.
Our vets are happy to discuss your horses nutritional needs and to help adjust the diet in order to address weight loss, weight gain, endocrine disease or dental inefficiency. We are also able to demystify the decision making involved in sorting through the many choices regarding feed supplements and additives. We can also help with feed/hay analysis to determine whether your hay is appropriate for your horses use, age, and dentition.