As a two year graduated mixed practitioner, my opportunities for equine castrates can be few and far between, so when I saw the advert on the BEVA website I jumped on the opportunity to be a part of a BEVA Trust Castration Clinic. This did however mean that I had to step/leap out of my comfort zone. I was worried that the other members of the team would be more confident than myself and that my limited experience would be a hindrance to the team rather than a help. So it was a rather anxious drive to Ardingly in West Sussex on a very bleak Wednesday morning.

Our base camp was the South of England Showground which was ideal as we had a lot of undercover work space, a luxury that cannot always be provided on these days. We were expecting 65 horses/ponies for passporting, microchipping, worming and 35 of these were booked for castration.  These were performed in individual scaffolding pens and each vet was provided with an assistant. After a group meeting and a vets huddle my concerns about the day diminished. I felt like a valuable member of the team right from the off and it was clear that we would be supported all day. All that was left to do was don some overalls and get on with the job in hand. Before long I was grabbing my equipment with gusto and getting stuck in.

The day was ran with military precision – I have never seen more clip boards in one location. The support staff had the arduous task of organising vets and owners alike, which at points looked as difficult as herding cats. A huge help was the ability of the trained volunteers to complete the passports silhouettes, a job that I was very grateful to bypass, particularly when the majority of the ponies on our day were skewbald or piebald.  The support team were incredible throughout the day and these clinics could not run without them.

I’m not sure how it happened. Perhaps it is my vertically challenged physique (5’4) – but I managed to lead the charge on castrating the Shetlands. Throughout the day I was struck by how engaged the owners were by the advice that we were all giving on after care following the castrations, worming and dental care.

After just one day of castrations my confidence was rejuvenated. I have taken my experiences of the day back with me into practice, happy to perform castrations when required. The work of the BEVA Trust continues and I would urge anyone who is passionate about equine welfare to get involved. On a personal level I set out to feel more confident in castrating – Mission Accomplished.  Volunteer for a BEVA Trust Day – you will not regret it!