Many are aware of the exciting new equine hospital being built in Ashington, just off the A24, on the Billingshurst road. Arundel Equine Hospital, a top class facility in its own right, spent endless years of searching for the perfect site, and this 32 acre property was purchased for the development of this new equine facility.
I was invited by one of the directors, Rob van Pelt, to have a look at the progress. It is truly impressive, even though it is still vey much a work in progress, and is due for completion in July 2017.
As you drive in you can see the enormity of the project.
From left Dave Bell, Duncan Bell, of main equine hospital contractors Bell and Son, with vet Rob van Pelt, at the equine hospital site.
Why move from Arundel? The practice has been at its current site, just south of Arundel, for approximately 60 years.
Rob explained: “Over that time, we have seen significant growth, and over the years have attempted to purchase extra pieces of land around us to expand, but it has been extremely difficult to do so. We are now finding that our facilities are starting to limit the service we offer our clients. Also, as everyone will appreciate, getting in and out of Arundel is increasingly more difficult and having horses in need of emergency treatment stuck on the A27 in traffic jams simply is not acceptable.
“About seven years ago, the current directors decided to actively look for a new property. Also at this stage ideas were collated as to what was needed in a state of the art equine hospital. Various vets visited numerous clinics in the UK and abroad, and with camera in hand took away the best ideas. Plans were drawn up and hung on the wall for everybody to make comments and draw arrows until the plans were finalised. Planning permission was applied for, which was relatively straight forward.
“Initially the project was to be done in two phases but as the existing Arundel site now has planning permission for houses, the extra money has allowed the whole site to be completed in one stage,” said Rob.
Equine hospital reception work in progress Photo: Jeannie Knight
On entering the building, there is a long corridor which will act as a trot up strip for examining lame horses when the weather is bad or the day is short. Immediately off this there is the x-ray room, with dedicated client viewing area, a large examination room which will have a set of examination stocks in to allow standing surgical procedures to be carried out.
Moving along the corridor, there is a room which is being kitted out for an MRI scanner. There are also rooms for CT scanning and bone scanning and in addition, a large laboratory which will process all the blood samples and swabs taken.
In the middle of the building is the surgical area with areas of soft padding to enable horses to be to be anaesthetised, and then a large surgery. There are dedicated changing rooms for the surgeons and a nurses work area.
Work in progress on the operating theatre at the new hospital Photo: Susie Viner
Separated from the main building is the stable block where there are 20 stables plus two dedicated for mares and foals and in addition two wash down areas and two stables for high dependency critical care.
There are also seven bone scan stables separate to the main stable block, hay and feed barn, a clinical waste storage barn, lunge area, trot up strip and a large sand school.
Outdoor hard or soft trot-up area under construction at the hospital
Photo: Jeannie Knight
In the main building there is accommodation for four students and two interns with a large conference room, which will be used for client evenings and professional development for local veterinary surgeons.
During my tour, Rob outlined the investment made by the practice, both into equipment and highly skilled personnel over the last 10-15 years. This has enabled this top class equine hospital to be able to provide a service which is undoubtedly one of the the best and highly respected in the country.
However, existing clients have no need for concern about the clinic moving, as primarily was it is still a first opinion practice, where a veterinary surgeon gets to know a client and their horse and build a trusting relationship as normal. It is only when things go wrong and the problem cannot be dealt with in the field, that referral to the hospital will be required. There has also been significant interest from other local veterinary surgeons looking to refer cases to the new hospital.
Rob says one of the best choices he made was to choose Bell & Sons Ltd as the main contractor. “They have been great from the word go. This is not a straightforward building yet they have been open to ideas all the way along so that we achieve the high quality design and facilities that this equine hospital needs.”
The Arundel Equine Hospital’s motto is ‘We care for and about horses’ and they are now putting their money where their mouth is. There are planned open days for all clients to have a good look around this outstanding new facility, ask questions about the move and the building.
This new facility is certain to become a real jewel in the crown of West Sussex, and an asset to horse owners who will benefit from having such a ground-breaking top facility so close at hand.