Armed with a recently acquired equine practice certificate, Neal joined the original Oakham practice as the ‘leg man’ working with the late, great Richard Watson. The year was 1998 and the practice was on the outskirts of Oakham, with an incredibly narrow entrance that was a challenge for any sizeable horsebox. The practice had been an equine hospital since the late 1960’s, and under George Gibson with Mike Seckington and Richard Watson, had developed a formidable reputation along with nurturing the skills of rising stars such as Laurence Gerring, Geoffrey Lane and Ian Wright. In 1999 Neal gained his equine surgery certificate and took on the role as principal surgeon.
At the beginning of this century Neal became a partner with William, and in 2005 they built Oakham Veterinary Hospital on the current site. As the hospital was being built a relationship was developed with Sir Peter Rubens, who was trusted with investigating the validity of Nottingham University starting a brand new vet school; Gary England was hired as foundation dean and our partnership with Nottingham Vet School was born. This relationship provides substantial investment for state of the art diagnostic equipment, which helps us to provide the highest standard of care for our patients, available to our clients at competitive rates.
The practice grew rapidly as the partners grappled with the integration of practice and academic clinicians. This was a fascinating process, resulting in the ability to offer the highest clinical standards, applied with practical horsemanship, while providing excellent teaching to final year undergraduates. With help from the University and specifically Sarah England and Jim Doles we were able to set up a surgical residency program within the practice. I was then lucky enough to take a residency in my own practice, finally resulting in achieving the diploma in equine surgery and specialist status in 2020.
Through skill and dedication Neal has had the good fortune to look after and/or operate on many elite equine athletes, for some of the best riders and trainers in the world, resulting in many memorable top-level successes.
Neals interests remain predominantly in all areas of surgery, having published on the surgical treatment of Blackthorn synovitis, wound management, castration and ovarectomy techniques and various types of tendon injury treatments. He continues to see many lameness cases in the hospital, and to look after many high-level competition horses.