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Veterinary Referrals


Veterinary referral is the transfer of care for a horse from one vet to another. We recommend referral may be recommended for one of two reasons:

  • Specialist equipment or techniques are needed to discover what is wrong or to treat your horse most effectively; or
  • Your horse may benefit from examination by a vet with a greater experience or expertise in the relevant field.


Absolutely not. The decision to refer your horse is made between you and your vet. Appointments often involve higher costs as well as travelling long distances to the appropriate referral centre. Although some procedures can be performed by your own vet, they may have a better outcome if done by a specialist. However, you may feel that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits and decide against referral.


In advising referral we aim to provide you and your horse with the best level of care possible for the presenting problem. We aim to refer you to the most appropriate clinician for your horse's case.


Most commonly, we will start by referring your horse "in-house". In these cases we may feel further tests are needed to identify the underlying cause of the problem, and it may be necessary to refer your horse into our clinic for this work to be done. We may even refer your horse to a colleague within the clinic. This is very common in the cases requiring lameness or in depth medical investigations.


In other cases we might advise you that it is appropriate to invite one of our consultant vets to the clinic to examine your horse. This may be because they have a greater level of experience or expertise with this specific case; or it may be that your horse requires investigation with specialist, portable equipment that we do not have, e.g. overground endoscopy.


Finally, we may advise you that your horse would be best taken to another facility for the referral appointment. This occurs when non-portable specialist equipment is required, e.g. MRI or CT scans; or specialist surgery may be necessary, e.g. fracture repairs.

Of course you may have a preference on where your appointment is and who you would like to see. We will certainly discuss this with you and together we will decide on the best plan for you.


Cases requiring referral are often complex, requiring considerable time. This means costs are often higher than those incurred during routine veterinary work. We will discuss expected potential costs prior to your referral appointment.

If you have needed to travel your horse to another facility, you should be aware you may be expected to settle these fees on collection of your horse. If your horse is insured, you can claim these fees back from the insurance company. At Cliffe Equine Vets all referrals and new clients are required to pay a deposit of £500 on arrival at the clinic and credit card details will be taken. When treatment is complete the balance will be due in full at the time of discharge. You will be eligible for a 10% discount that we offer for fees paid at the time. Often an insurance claim has already been started, by it may be prudent to take a continuation insurance claim form with you.

In all cases you must notify insurers prior to referral to obtain their consent. In an emergency situation this may not be possible. It is a good idea to check whether your chosen insurance company have an emergency contact number, and what procedure they ask you to follow in the event an emergency referral is required.