Equine Services

Equine Services

At Gympie Vet Services, our Vets are well qualified to care for and treat your horse and we are available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week to provide a comprehensive service for all your equine needs.

Some of the services we can help your horse with include:

  • Colic
  • Routine surgeries : castration, wound sutures, hernias, tenotomy
  • Lameness assessment
  • Founder
  • Injuries
  • Foalings
  • General sickness
  • Nutrition
  • Freeze branding
  • Microchipping , DNA testing and identification
  • Vaccination
  • Merchandise

Equine Dental Services

An annual dental check-up brings peace of mind for you and your horse. 

Regular dental care is an extremely important part of good horse husbandry.Studies conducted in the mid 2000’s at the University of Queensland Veterinary School established that dental health was the single most important determinant of food health in older horses, and horses that have had regular dental care during their life, stay healthier for longer. Regular dental examination and treatment is essential for every horse whether it be competing at a high level or just grazing the paddock as a retired pet. Dental treatments performed at least once a year are recommended to prevent painful conditions of the mouth.

Common signs of dental trouble is a change in chewing habits in your horse. Dental issues can include dribbling or dropping feed out of its mouth while eating, holding head to the side or simply refusing to eat hard grain. This can lead to behavioural problems that include

  • Tossing their head when being ridden
  • Pulling to one side when ridden
  • Increased resistance to the bridle
  • Becoming nervous
  • Lunging, rearing and being generally unsettled or unwilling to perform correctly or consistently

It is not uncommon for your horse to show no outward signs of dental issues. Gympie Veterinary Services have two full equine dental kits, complete with quality instruments and specifically designed magnetised LED light which we attach to the gag. This allows us to conduct a detailed visual inspection of the mouth and teeth. Our veterinarians have undergone training by specialists in the latest Equine Dental therapies, especially the proficient use of Powerfloats. Our practice has invested in two Powerfloats, which allows dental treatment to be completed in shorter time, and with a smoother finish than hand tools.

Equine Annual Health Program

Equine Annual Health Package (EAHP)

An annual health check helps to keep your horse performing at its best all year round
Our Equine Annual Health Program includes:

  • 1 x Hendra Booster (1st 6 month or 12 month booster)
  • Equivac 2 in 1 (Tetanus & Strangles)
  • Dental examination/float
  • Equest wormers x 2
  • 1 x Faecal Egg Counts (per horse per year)
  • Wellness check
  • Additional wormer and vaccine discount of 20%
  • 20% discount on all Veterinary fees for your horse for 12 months

Equine Health Starter Package (EASP)

Our equine health starter package wil set you and your horse on the right track for from the word go!
Our Equine Health Starter package includes:

  • Initial Hendra course (2 injections 3–6 weeks apart)
  • Equivac 2 in 1 (Tetanus & Strangles)
  • Dental examination/float
  • Equest wormers x 2
  • 1 x Faecal Egg Counts (per horse per year)
  • Wellness check
  • Additional wormer and vaccine discount of 20%
  • 20% discount on all Veterinary fees for your horse for 12 months

Common Conditions

The veterinary definition of colic is any condition that leads to pain within the abdomen of the horse. This may be pain associated with the gastrointestinal system, or it maybe related to pain associated with other vital organs such as the liver or the kidneys. Commonly we use it to refer to pain associated with the gastrointestinal system.


Mild colic resulting from gut spasm or minor impactions can respond well to medical treatment without the need for surgery. More serious cases arise when pieces of gut are twisted or compromised and these require surgical intervention to correct.

Colic may manifest in your horse as one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pawing the ground
  • Looking at their flank
  • Lying down
  • Restless behaviour
  • Rolling or sweating
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Reduction in faecal output

It is advisable to call a vet if your horse is displaying signs of colic so that we can try to determine if the colic is likely to be medical or surgical. Monitoring of vital signs can give us clues as to the severity of the colic, and the best course of action to take.

Respiratory Disease

Respiratory disease is a relatively common occurrence in the horse. Respiratory disease is defined as a deleterious process affecting any part of the respiratory system; from the nose and sinuses, throat and airways, through to the lungs.

Lifestyle factors such as prolonged periods of travel, stabling and mixing with other horses at competitions can play a key role in the development of respiratory conditions.

Signs of respiratory disease are:

  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Increased noise on exercise
  • Reduced appetite
  • Swollen glands
  • Noticing if your horse seems dull or flat

If you are concerned that your horse is showing one or more of the above signs call your vet for further advice.


Castration of colts ( male horses 3 yo and under) and stallions ( male horses older than 3yo) is a routine surgery that, by law, can only be legally performed for a client by a registered Veterinarian.

Gympie Veterinary Services only perform castrations surgically under anaesthetic, and in clean controlled conditions to reduce the risk of infection as we consider this the most humane method.

Safe Anaesthetic

To safely perform the surgery, we need to be able to give the horse an anaesthetic injection, preferably into the vein. The anaesthetics we use these days are safe for horses if given at correct dose rates.

The jugular vein, which runs down the side of the neck, is the most commonly used vein in horses for “I/V” (Intravenous) injections.

It can be very difficult to inject a colt or stallion which hasn’t had enough handling. He must be comfortable with someone approaching the side of his neck and allow the skin on the side of the neck to be pinched. By doing this in the weeks leading up to the date of the surgery, he can be conditioned to allow the anaesthetic to be easily and safely carried out.

Rigs/ Cryptorchids

Another important requirement is that there are two testicles visible and properly ‘descended’ into the scrotum. When a male foal is an embryo, the testicles form inside the abdomen near the kidneys. Up till the time of birth, they move progressively toward the groin area and are usually out in the scrotum at birth or soon after.

If one or both testicles fail to descend properly, the horse is known as a ‘rig’ or cryptorchid. It is important for us to know if a colt/ stallion is likely to b a rig before we attempt to anaesthetise him for castration, as this will affect how we perform the surgery.

Tetanus Prevention

Every horse needs to have some immunity against Tetanus at castration.

The cheapest and most effective way to do this is to vaccinate the colt/ stallion prior to surgery. You would need to give two injections of Tetanus Toxoid 4 weeks apart, with the second dose at least 2 weeks prior to surgery. All horses require an annual booster after the 2 shot primary course, and this can be given at castration.

Alternately, we can administer tetanus antitoxin at time of castrations, however this is more expensive. A follow up appointment is required to administer the second vaccination shot 4 weeks later.

The Surgery

  • To carry out a safe castration on your colt/ stallion, we need:
  • A clean, grassy area, preferably shady if in hot weather
  • No other animals (including other horses, dogs, cattle or any livestock) in the same area
  • Clean fresh water
  • At least one other able-bodied person to help keep the horse on its back

We prefer to perform what is known as a semi-closed castration, and this is performed with the horse on his back. We therefor need someone to keep the horse in this position during the surgery which usually takes 15-20 minutes, unless complications arise. Alternately, a couple of heavy hay bails covered with clean sheets can be used to keep the horse in position.


Aftercare for our castration patients involves a 24 hour period of minimal exercise, follow by turn out in a clean grassy paddock where he can exercise freely. It is preferable that he has paddock mates who can keep him moving, or else he may stand in a corner and sulk, which can lead to more swelling. The wounds are left open to drain, and usually close up (heal) after about 10 days.

We required the owners of our castration patients to examine the surgical site at least once daily until the wounds heal, and report to us anything abnormal.

Signs of a potential problem include excessive swelling around the wound/s, pus discharge from the wound/s, pain (which often shows up as hindleg lameness), and sometimes poor appetite and lethargy.

It is therefore important that if you schedule a castration, you are available to examine the horse in the 2 weeks after the surgery.

Additional Treatments

Hendra Virus Policy

Hendra virus (HeV) is a fatal disease in horses and in humans. Mortality (death) rate in horses known to have contracted Hendra virus is 100%. The mortality rate in humans is 60%. Veterinarians and their staff are the most at risk of contracting Hendra virus and they account for all but one of the human cases. Gympie Veterinary Services has an obligation to its clients and staff to protect and advise them on the best way of preventing disease in horses and people.

Worksafe Queensland, Queensland Health and Biosecurity Queensland have developed extensive guidelines for all parties involved with the handling horses and potential HeV cases. The information is freely available on their web sites.

There is a large range of clinical signs possible in horses that have contracted HeV. Horses with HeV have been variously diagnosed with colic, snake-bite, “choke”, or have been vaguely unwell. Infected horses have had a normal, high or low temperature. In other words any horse that is acutely unwell, that may have an elevated temperature or heart rate, colic, neurological signs, respiratory secretions or disease, inappetence, or any debilitating condition could be a Hendra virus case. In recent cases there has been no known activity of flying foxes.

There are many important consequences related to HeV that need to be considered by all people involved in handling horses:

  1. There is a known and serious risk of injury or death because of this virus. Although infection is not common, the consequences are very serious including death of horses and people. HeV is categorised as a “BSL-4” virus (Bio-safety Level 4 – the same as Ebola Virus)
  2. Any horse that is unwell must also be considered at risk of having HeV. Therefore an unvaccinated horse cannot be admitted to hospital, or have invasive diagnostic procedures or treatments performed until a negative exclusion test has been received. It is not possible to diagnose nor rule out HeV on a sick horse without an exclusion test from Biosecurity Queensland. This requires sending samples to Brisbane with results taking between two and up to five days if over a weekend. This time delay dangerously limits treatment options for seriously unwell horses and exposes people and other horses to significant risks. The ‘Hendra Interagency Technical Working Group’ has deemed that ‘if HeV cannot be ruled out as a diagnosis, risk controls should be implemented before anyone contacts a sick horse, not after initial examination.’

Vaccination is the best way of preventing Hendra virus infection in horses and people.  HeV vaccination is considered to be safe and effective. Over 250, 000 doses have now been administered and the rate of complications is very low (0.28%). The most common complication is a swelling at the injection site, or a raised temperature or malaise (off food) for 24 hours. There have been no reported repercussions in breeding horses. We STRONGLY recommend that vaccination be carried out on all unvaccinated horses for the safety of the horse, the client and their families, and our staff.

From the 1st September 2015 Gympie Veterinary Service will be adhering to the following guidelines in relation to sick horses that are NOT vaccinated for HeV:

  1. Sick, unvaccinated equids (horses & donkeys) will not be seen by Gympie Veterinary Services. This will include foals < 4 months old from unvaccinated mothers.
  2. Admission of all horses for routine cases to hospital that require stabling overnight will only be possible if Hendra virus vaccination is implemented before admission to hospital.
  3. High risk procedures such as those using an endoscope and dental equipment will only be carried out on clinically well horses that are vaccinated.
  4. We will not attend any Horse events unless they are a compulsory HeV vaccination event.
  5. Any unvaccinated horses that are down and require immediate veterinary attention will only be attended to when the welfare of the animal severely compromised. These animals will most likely need to be euthanased. An exclusion test will be performed and the attending veterinarian will be required to wear Personal Protective Equipment which entails additional cost.


If you have any questions on this policy please contact the clinic. 



Tetanus is a mostly fatal disease caused by a neurotoxin that is released by the bacteria Clostridium tetani.  This bacterium survives for long periods in the soil. This nerve toxin is released once the bacteria enters the body and rapidly multiplies, causing distressing symptoms and death occurs in approximately 80% of cases.
The risk of tetanus is high even if your horse never leaves your property. Being prone to injury by their very nature, horses can contract tetanus by the spores gaining entry into the horse’s body via wounds, particularly puncture wounds for example by a nail or barbed wire fence. The most common wound associated with tetanus is a foot abscess or stone bruise. Injury can occur even within the relative safety of your paddock at home and the only way to protect your horse against this potentially fatal disease is with a tetanus vaccination.
In the event where your horse contracts tetanus and you are unsure of their vaccination status, a veterinarian may administer the tetanus antitoxin injection. Sadly, however, you may still be faced with the decision to euthanise your horse.
Routine vaccination is the only way to prevent tetanus and the vaccine if delivered correctly is probably the most effective vaccination we have with near 100% protection.


Symptoms of Tetanus occur between four and twenty-one days after the initial infection. Cramping of body muscles and stiffness are symptoms of tetanus which may progress to extreme stiffness and eventually death.
Treatment is expensive, time consuming and generally unsuccessful.

How often do I need to vaccinate against tetanus?

To provide maximum protection against tetanus, your horse should receive an annual booster such as the 2in1 vaccination

Tetanus Vaccination

However, if your horse is unvaccinated against tetanus, you should follow the below schedule to give them the full benefits of immunity:

Adult horses

If your horse has an unknown vaccination history or has not had any vaccinations, you will require 2 tetanus (toxoid) initial vaccinations 4 weeks apart, then a yearly booster. Your horse will have maximum protection from tetanus 2 weeks after the second initial vaccination.
Note: If your horse is injured, and it is unvaccinated, Tetanus Toxoid will not provide effective protection as full immunity will only develop two weeks after the second initial dose.  In these cases, the horse will need a Tetanus Anti-Toxin as well as a Tetanus Toxoid at the time of injury and another Tetanus Toxoid four weeks later followed on then by annual boosters.


From 3 months of age foals can be started on tetanus vaccinations. For the first three months of the foal’s life, protection if provided by the initial colostrum from the vaccinated mare.
Pregnant mares
To provide maximum immunity to the foal via colostrum, regardless of normal annual vaccination timing, the pregnant mare should also receive a vaccination at 4 – 8 weeks prior to foaling.




Strangles is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by the Streptocuccus Equi bacterium.
These bacterium cause an upper respiratory tract infection and the formation of abscesses around the throat area. Although rarely fatal, strangles is a highly contagious disease that could cause havoc in the equine industry.
This bacterium is spread from horse to horse by direct contact with nasal discharge, pus from discharging abscesses and even coughing. It can also spread via contaminated objects, including handlers, clothing and equipment, such as halters, water buckets and feed bins.
Even if your horse never leaves your property it should still be vaccinated against strangles.

Why do I need to vaccinate against strangles?

Highly infectious, strangles can rapidly spread from horse to horse. While young horses tend to have a lower immunity to strangles, making them more susceptible to the disease, it can affect all horses, leading to a distressing fever.
Strangles is most often present when horses are housed in groups, such as horse studs, breaking-in establishments where there is a high turnover of horses. It is spread more readily in high density, high stress situations such as horse shows, sales and competitions. While the risk is greatest when horses are kept in such environments, if you bring an infected horse onto your property, this disease can have disastrous results.
Routine vaccination combined with good biosecurity measures is the only way to prevent strangles.

Symptoms of strangles can include:

  • A thick, creamy discharge (pus) from the nostrils
  • Elevated temperature
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (glands) under the jaw & in the throat area
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression / listlessness
  • Difficulty breathing / swallowing due to the nasal discharge & swelling in the throat area
  • Pneumonia can result if the infection progresses to the lungs causing a large number of abscesses and possible death


There is available, a combined tetanus / strangles vaccine (Equivac 2 in 1) that has been developed that provides immunity for both diseases or a Strangles vaccine by itself may be used.
If your horse has an unknown vaccination history or has not had any vaccinations, it will require three vaccinations for strangles at two-week intervals.  A booster vaccination should be given annually for life to maintain immunity
If your horse has been vaccinated, only an annual strangles vaccination will be required unless it is in a high-risk environment. In that case boosters should be given at six (6) monthly intervals
Pregnant mares, regardless of normal annual vaccination timing, should also receive a vaccination at 4-8 weeks before foaling to provide maximum immunity to the foal via colostrum.
Foals can be vaccinated from three (3) months old, Foals younger than three months are best protected by vaccinating the mare 4 – 8 weeks prior to foaling.

Although routine vaccinate against strangles provides good immunity, the vaccine is not 100% protective and we do occasionally see strangles in vaccinated horses, however, in these cases the severity is reduced along with a reduction in the spread of the disease.Unfortunately, there is no short-term protection for strangles should an outbreak occur; therefore, it is best to be protected.

Send a Message

 Gympie Vet Services – Gympie

  • 2 Little Channon St Gympie QLD 4570
  • Monday – Friday 8.00 am – 5.30 pm
  • Saturday 8 am – 4 pm & Sunday 9 am – 12 pm
  • Telephone: 07 5482 2488
  • Email: admin@gympievetservice.com.au
  • After hours emergency mobile 0409 708 526

Gympie Vet Services

 Gympie Vet Services – Tin Can Bay

  • 67 Gympie Road, Tin Can Bay, QLD 4580
  • Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm
  • Telephone: 07 5486 4666
  • Email: admin@gympievetservice.com.au
  • After Hours Mobile: 0409 708 526

Tin Can Bay Veterinary Services