All initial referrals enquiries and appointments to the RVC Equine Referral Hospital are made through your veterinary practice.

It is important that we receive a referral letter from your regular veterinary surgeon.

Once an appointment has been made you will be sent a letter containing advice about your visit, an information booklet, patient admission form and feed information and terms of business for you to complete and bring with you to your appointment. You will also need to bring any current medication that your horse is taking.

In order to ensure accurate diagnostic testing and avoid delays, we may advise you to fast your horse before your appointment. If your horse is on prescribed medication, it is essential that it is continued as normal unless otherwise advised. If you have any concerns, or your horse has special circumstances, please consult us or your vet. 

We usually request that you arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment time to allow our reception staff to book your horse in. If you are unable to keep your appointment for any reason please let us know as soon as possible.

Please ensure that whilst on the RVC premises you follow all health and safety advice. 


When you arrive please come to the Equine Referral Hospital reception. The clinician that you have been referred to will be advised that you have arrived and an equine technician will be available to assist with unloading of your horse if required. Your horse will be weighed for the patient records.

It may be necessary to for your horse to remain in hospital for one night or more for procedures to be carried out. We have excellent, new barn accommodation which can accommodate 35 horses in spacious well ventilated stables. We use deep shavings beds and feed only the best quality, low dust meadow hay or haylage. All horses are groomed daily and we stock a wide range of horse feeds to maintain dietary continuity when your horse is hospitalised. When your horse is admitted one of our Equine Technicians will be assigned to your horse and will be responsible for your horse’s care throughout its stay in the hospital.

Anaesthesia for Horses

General Anaesthetic and Horses

Several equine routine elective and emergency procedures require general anaesthesia.

The decision to anaesthetise your horse is not made lightly and we will always discuss this with you. While everything is done to ensure patient safety, every general anaesthetic carries a certain risk and this risk is higher in horses than in cats, dogs and people.

To find out more about what happens when our team administer anaesthetic to your horse, we have created a client fact file about general anaesthesia and your horse  Download 

Inpatient Care

Once hospitalised, your horse will receive the best possible care and attention from our dedicated clinicians, nurses and equine technicians. Water will be available at all times, and your horse will be fed at regular intervals as required. If appropriate, your horse will be walked at regular intervals throughout the day. At all times your horse’s welfare is our priority. The hospital is staffed 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, and so there is never a time when your horse is not being cared for.

Overnight care of your horse

If your horse is admitted to the Equine Referral Hospital and stays overnight it will receive the highest possible standards of care from our overnight on-call clinical team, comprising a specialist surgeon, a specialist physician, an anaesthetist, two specialists-in-training (a Senior and Junior Clinical Training Scholar) and senior clinical students.

The specialist in charge of your horse will formulate a dedicated overnight plan for your horse specifying how often it must be checked and when treatments must be given. Every horse receives individual care overnight and the out of hours plans are reviewed for each horse with the overnight clinical team each day. As a minimum, every horse is checked four times overnight at 8pm, midnight, 4am and 8am and more frequent checks and treatments are provided if required by the out of hours plan.

Our team is able to provide hour-by-hour or even continuous monitoring of patients.

If you would like more information about the overnight care of your horse, please ask when your horse is admitted and your academic clinical specialist (Team Leader) will be pleased to discuss this with you.


You are welcome to visit your horse. All that we ask is that you arrange visiting times with the reception team or vet so that we can best accommodate you around busy times or treatments, visiting times are usually between 4pm and 5pm. We want you to spend quality time with your horse and so ask you to work with us to arrange suitable times.



Prescriptions are available from our the RVC's Equine Practice.

You can obtain Category V (meaning issued by a veterinarian) Prescription Only Medicines (POM-V) medicines from your veterinary surgeon OR ask for a prescription and obtain these medicines from another veterinary surgeon or pharmacy.

Your veterinary surgeon may prescribe POM-V medication only for animals under their care.

A prescription may not be appropriate if your animal is an inpatient or if immediate treatment is necessary.

You will be informed, on request, of the price of any medicine that may be dispensed for your animal.

The general policy of this practice is to re-assess an animal requiring repeat prescriptions every six months, but this may vary with individual circumstances.

Further information on the prices of medicines are available on request.

Payment, Terms of Business and Insurance


The hospital is a self-financing institution, which is non-profit making. Owners are charged the full economic rate for the treatment and services provided. Estimated costs are fully discussed with owners during the initial consultation (for which there is a fee) and before any treatment is commenced.

Full payment is required at the time of your horse’s discharge from the hospital. We accept payment by credit or debit cards, cash and guaranteed cheques. You will be asked for a deposit prior to your horse being hospitalised.

Please note that direct insurance claims are only possible in exceptional circumstances and only by prior arrangement with our accounts team. Unless this is the case, full payment will be required at the time of your horse’s discharge from the hospital.

Terms of Business

Our Commitment to You

  • We aim to provide you with a first class service.
  • We aim to provide your horse with the highest standard of treatment and care.
  • We understand that when your horse is hospitalised, this may be a stressful time and we provide a means for you to have effective communication with the hospital during their stay.
  • If your horse has been admitted to the hospital we will provide you with an estimate of costs at the start of treatment and will keep you informed of any changes to this, and will seek your agreement to continue with treatment if the costs are likely to increase.
  • We will endeavour to arrange re-examination appointments at convenient times and dates for you.
  • In the sad event of your horse passing away, we can put you in contact with a bereavement counselling service.

Your Commitment to Us

  • You are responsible for full settlement of your account. If your horse is not insured, payment is expected at conclusion of treatment at the time it is discharged from the hospital. (Please see below if your horse is insured).
  • A deposit of £1000 will be required from you at the time that your horse is admitted to the hospital if it is not insured.

Returned Medicines Policy

The British Veterinary Association Code of Practice on Medicines (2000) states:

“Once stock has been dispensed, it should not be accepted back into the dispensary. No returned goods should be offered for resale because there may have been problems with storage conditions beyond the veterinarian’s control.”

This means that we cannot give refunds for returned medications as we are obliged to dispose of them. We are happy to safely dispose of your unused medication if it was purchased from the RVC.

Ownership of Clinical Records

All case papers, radiographs and other clinical data derived during normal clinical investigations, remain the property of the Royal Veterinary College and such material might in the future be used for research and teaching purposes; if so, it will not be possible to identify the owner or animal in any written or oral presentation, unless prior written permission has been given.


If your animal is insured and a direct claim has been agreed:

  • It is important that you contact your insurance company prior to your appointment to establish the level of cover remaining on your policy for your horse’s condition.
  • Please bring a valid claim form, along with your insurance policy documents if possible, to your first appointment. We aim to process claim forms promptly so that insurance companies are able to reimburse you or us swiftly.
  • You will need to pay the excess at the time of the first consultation, unless this has already been paid to your practice.
  • Please ensure that you have an initial claim made with your referring vet if applicable.
  • We are happy to liaise with the insurance company about recovery of fees on your behalf, but you may be required to give permission allowing us to do this.
  • If the insurance company for any reason does not pay the entire amount owing, you will be responsible for the outstanding account balance.
  • If an insurance claim is not settled within 60 days we will require you to settle your account in full.

If your horse is not insured:

  • A deposit of £1,000 will be required from you at the time that your horse is admitted to the hospital if it is not insured.
  • Payment will be expected in full at the time of collection of your horse.
  • If you have any queries concerning payments, please don't hesitate to contact us on: 01707 666297 between 8.00am and 5.00pm Monday-Friday.


When your horse is ready to go home, a suitable time will be arranged with you so that full discharge instructions can be explained to you. You will be given a discharge summary of your horses treatment and after care. A full veterinary report will be sent to your veterinary surgeon.

Equine Diagnostic Imaging Information

For some conditions, it may be necessary to use diagnostic imaging for your horse.

RVC Equine has a whole host of diagnostic imaging facilities on site and, in some instances, we are also able to use diagnostic imaging at our client's premises.

We understand that clients often have questions or concerns about what happens to their horse whilst they are having scans. We have created some handy factsheets about equine diagnostic imaging so you know what to expect from the whole process. Our RVC Equine diagnostic imaging team members are always happy to answer any questions you may have

Equine MRI scan client fact sheet

Standing Equine CT scan client fact sheet

Equine Scintigraphy client fact sheet


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