Svend, as he was known to his friends, was born in Aarhus in 1953 and studied veterinary medicine at the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Copenhagen. As a young lad he was an enthusiastic horseman, but unusually for a Dane was passionately interested in English flat racing. At university he came under the spell of Professor Micki Hesselholt, a large animal surgeon of high calibre. Micki remained a close friend and mentor for the rest of his life.
After graduation and working in Denmark for a short period, Svend came to work at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. He had originally visited on a Carlsberg scholarship and was interested in equine cardiology. However, Leo Jeffcott persuaded him that the equine stifle and subchondral bone cysts, in particular, were a good subject on which to devote his attention. Thus a lifetime’s interest in equine orthopaedics was kindled. He became employed by the Animal Health Trust where he worked for almost a decade. During this period the AHT engaged Colonel John Hickman to supervise some of the young clinicians they employed. Svend’s stifle project genuinely interested the Colonel and reinvigorated the final years of Hickman’s veterinary career. A number of publications appeared, related to clinical and radiological features of stifle bone cysts. A project was set up in experimental ponies to create bone cysts and then to repair some cases with bone cement, but mostly with cancellous bone grafts. Under the guidance of Danish bone pathologist, Professor Flemming Melsen, Svend produced a number of papers and a doctoral thesis which was published in 1989.
As a student Svend had seen practice and then worked with Dr Lennart Ostblom in Jutland. There he had seen the use of egg bar shoes to treat foot lameness. In Newmarket, with the AHT farrier Ron Ware, he maintained a keen interest in shoeing as a treatment for lame horses. This was subsequently continued in his Gloucestershire practice with farrier, Robin Compton.
In July 1990 he took a sabbatical year at Colorado State University in the USA, during which he was exposed to a much broader range of equine surgery. He then returned and moved to join John Killingbeck in 1991 at a well-known mixed private practice, which was acquiring a rapidly increasing reputation with both equine and exotic animal patients. John and he soon split off to form Willesley Equine Clinic. There he provided an excellent orthopaedic service to many high-quality dressage and eventing horses and his skill was much appreciated by some very distinguished equine clients. He had continued through this period to deliver high quality CPD to equine veterinary surgeons and was a co-author of Clinical Radiology of the Horse. He also became a highly respected expert witness for veterinary legal work and was a veterinary advisor to a major Danish insurance company.
He never forgot his roots and returned frequently to Denmark to provide CPD and was closely involved with the Danish Equine Veterinary Association. Over the years he brought several touring parties of Danish equine veterinary surgeons across to visit England, where CPD courses were also specially arranged.
Whilst he was in Newmarket he met and fell in love with Ali Hulbert, a well-known local horsewoman and they were subsequently married in the St Katherine’s Danish Church in Regents Park in 1993. They had two daughters, Olivia (Liv) and Amelia (Millie). Whilst neither of them joined the profession they both enjoyed equestrian activities to a reasonable level.
Ali was a devoted wife who subsequently managed Svend’s private practice, set up after Willesley became part of the B and W Group. From his lovely home in Tetbury he serviced select and often very high-profile clients, providing a bespoke peripatetic high quality clinical service which specialised in lameness. He was also involved heavily in the pre-purchase examination of competition horses.
When he was working at the AHT, then director, Andrew Higgins asked him to help provide veterinary cover at Ascot Racecourse. This was a joy for a lifetime racing enthusiast and in the latter part of his career he became the senior vet at Ascot and also worked at Kempton Park, Sandown Park and Epsom Downs. This was latterly his major veterinary interest.
He was a very popular and well-known figure in the British and European veterinary world and a regular attendee and lecturer at BEVA congresses and CPD courses.
In 2021 Svend was diagnosed with a brain tumour and was cruelly taken from us all in October 2022. We have known Svend for more than 40 years as a colleague and loyal friend. Our love and deepest sympathy are extended to Ali and the girls.
Tim Greet and Sue Dyson
It is with extreme sadness we report the passing of our esteemed friend and colleague, Svend-Erik Kold after a relatively short illness borne with his characteristic positivity and determination.
Svend’s diagnosis imposed a dramatic and sudden change is his circumstances which he embraced with surprising positivity. Overnight he was compelled to cease all clinical work, his racecourse duties, and both his insurance and legal caseloads. Only Svend could accept such a dramatic change with a new sense of purpose and embrace a more relaxed lifestyle which even allowed him time to write his memoirs. Sadly, this more relaxed period of his life was all too brief.
Svend joined Chris Shepherd and myself in our fledgling equine clinic in 1991 after many years at the AHT and instantly created a positive impact which stimulated us to raise our own game. With Svend’s encouragement and guidance, we quickly elevated the reputation of Willesley Equine Clinic to referral status. His reputation attracted clients from the highest echelons of the equestrian world, but the much-loved family pony was treated with equal consideration and skill.
Outside the practice, flat racing was his passion and for many years up to his illness Svend was the senior clinician at Ascot racecourse where his reputation attracted an impressive team of colleagues in whom the trainers and their staff had absolute confidence.
Svend was also in high demand as an expert witness where his fairmindedness, extensive clinical experience and expertise meant he was in equal demand to support our professional colleagues but equally ready to hold to account those who did not uphold the high standards he espoused.
There was no second best and no cutting corners only the highest standards were acceptable to Svend.
We have lost a rare beacon of our profession who was a standard bearer for the uncompromising levels of professionalism which he maintained and instilled in others. Svend will be much missed but never forgotten and his fitting legacy is the reputation he masterminded at the Willesley Equine Clinic.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Ali and his daughters Olivia and Millie.