VET’S DIARY: There’s no horsing about for the stables cameras

At our Fairmoor Equine Clinic we have recently had CCTV cameras installed in our stables, writes Rose Mould.

Aside from the obvious security benefits of having these cameras installed, we have also discovered a number of interesting clinical benefits to having them as well.

The cameras allow us to view the boxes in our surgery day and night, 365 days a year, so horses in our care can be observed round the clock.

It doesn’t involve one of us being glued to a television screen, CCTV technology has come a long way and we can now view remotely, from any distance, using computers and on our mobile phones.

We provide a 24-hour service for our clients and we have staff on site at all times, even overnight. The cameras give our staff greater security knowing that other staff members can keep an eye on them overnight (and admire their pyjamas!).

However, by far the greatest benefit is that the cameras allow us to spot abnormal horse behaviour straight away. We can instantly recognise if a horse has colic, signs that a horse is in pain and we can spot if a horse is distressed at being left alone.

In these cases there are many things we can do to make a horse more comfortable; leaving a radio and lights on can instantly make a horse less distressed and we can also use mirrors to fool a horse into thinking it has company.

Round-the-clock observation is very useful for foaling mares. Most mares prefer to foal in private, but if we can watch what is going on then we can intervene when appropriate and observe the nursing behaviour of poorly foals.

Horses can respond very differently when they have human company and the cameras are great for spotting behaviour which might not otherwise occur if a person was with them and which may be relevant to clinical conditions. For example, if we notice a horse gently head-pressing the side of the box then we investigate whether the horse has liver disease as this type of behaviour indicates that it may have.

Some horses can appear to fall asleep on their feet, fall down and injure themselves and being able to observe this means we may be able to explain a cause for an owner who finds their horse with an unexplained injury.

While we are all delighted with the installation of the new cameras and the obvious security and clinical benefits that they bring, they haven’t been without their teething problems.

Soon after the cameras were installed we discovered a now-rectified blind spot in box four. The discovery was made in the middle of the night and caused a nurse to leap out of bed and run across in her pyjamas and slippers when she thought a patient had disappeared!

Needless to say, we have now worked out how to remotely alter the camera angles and we’re all enjoying the many benefits they have brought to the clinic.