A mare that suffered a broken neck has successfully returned to competition thanks to the veterinary team at Liphook Equine Hospital.

Poppy, a five-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare fractured a vertebra in her neck after she slipped and fell heavily onto a concrete car park while being loaded into a horse box. 

At Liphook, Poppy underwent a three-hour operation performed by vets Matthew Sinovich, Russell Parker and David Lloyd, who are all European specialists in equine surgery.

Matthew said: “Reaching the fracture site involved making a large incision on the underside of Poppy’s neck, about half-way between her chin and chest. This was extremely delicate to perform because we needed to cut through a lot of soft tissue and muscle and there are a lot of vital structures in that area.

“Once we’d located the fragment we repositioned it, using X-rays to guide us, and then it was fixed in place with a metal plate and screws.  

“The surgery went well, and then we moved Poppy into a padded recovery room to come round from the anaesthetic. Poppy had to get up by herself, but she did this without any problems.”

Vet Matthew Sinovich who operated on Poppy alongside other surgeons
Vet Matthew Sinovich who operated on Poppy alongside other surgeons (VetPartners Ltd)

The 16 hand high dark bay mare has gone on to make a full recovery and is now competing successfully in dressage with her owner Lizzie Burford, under her official name Nova Zembla.

Lizzie said: “I was back in the saddle three months later, and at our first dressage outing to Moreton Morrell we achieved 67% and second place in a Prelim test.

“I thought there was no hope, but to look at her now you couldn’t tell that just a few months ago she broke her neck. It’s all down to the incredible team at Liphook that I still have my horse and I just can’t thank them enough.”