Taking blood is a procedure very commonly performed and is done for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is to test for a certain disease in particular- for example evidence of strangles, although most of the time we take blood in order to get more information that allows us to work out what condition your horse may be suffering from.

Most of the time we will ask the laboratory to perform two types of test.

  • Haematology
  • Biochemistry

Haematology involves testing the cells found in blood (red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets). By measuring these we are able to identify anaemia, infection and inflammation.

Biochemistry involves measuring enzymes and chemicals within blood that are produced by different organs and metabolic processes.

The normal levels of enzymes are well known, so when blood results are produced we compare your horse’s enzyme levels with those deemed normal for another horse of the same age.

The main organs we access are liver, kidneys, and muscles, in addition to inflammatory enzymes sometimes associated with infection.

For example- if we found a horse had elevations in its liver enzymes we may suspect it of having a problem with its liver.

The horse below appeared very stiff and reluctant to move after exercise. Bloods were taken which are shown. AST and CK are both enzymes produced by muscles. As you can see they are massively elevated compared with normal levels. This would be consistent with tying up (exertional rhabdomyolysis).

Enzyme Normal Reference Range Actual Results
CK <678 U/l 34000 U/l
AST <420 U/l 4300 U/l


Sometimes we will monitor the progression of a disease through repeated blood tests. By monitoring enzyme levels we are able to recognise whether a horse is getting better/ worse and hence tailor treatment according to the results obtained.

Other Procedures


One of the most distressing conditions for an owner to witness is an episode of choke. Fortunately choke in horses refers to an obstruction of their food pipe (oeseophagus), as apposed to the windpipe and therefore is very rarely life threatening.It is quite a common condition and occurs when food blocks the oesophagus, which is […]

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Laminitis is a condition we see very frequently within our practice and is now an almost year round condition. Wherever there are overweight ponies and horses there will be cases of laminitis.  The two main causes of laminitis are Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Cushings Syndrome. There are other causes  ( traumatic or toxin associated), however […]

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Liver Biopsy

Liver biopsy is a procedure we perform when we suspect a horse may have a problem with their liver. It is very rare to suspect liver disease simply based on clinical signs, the vast majority of liver disease cases we see are diagnosed following blood tests (see section on blood testing). Although blood tests will […]

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Testing for Respiratory Disease

Sometimes if we suspect your horse may be suffering from respiratory disease we will recommend further testing. This may include endoscopy, x rays, Tracheal Washes or Broncho Alveolar Lavage. We have included some notes for you to read about these techniques to help understand why we do certain tests and how they are performed.   […]

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Ultrasound is a technique we often use to diagnose soft tissue injuries and abnormalities. An ultrasound machine is composed of a probe and a processor. The probe emits ultrasound waves which bounce back off the tissue and are then processed by the processor to create an image on the screen. The most common situation we […]

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New House Farm, Belbroughton Rd, Blakedown DY10 3JH
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Saturday 8:30am - 5:00pm
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