Best Practices for 20 Minutes of Equine Field Anesthesia

Short-term anesthesia for procedures lasting fewer than 20 minutes is common field work in equine medicine.

Best Practices for 20 Minutes of Equine Field Anesthesia
Good footing is necessary for horses during recovery. | Photo:
Every week, about half of all equine veterinarians anesthetize horses for procedures that take no more than 20 minutes to perform. Because these horses are under for only a short period of time, veterinarians commonly carry out such procedures in the field rather than in a hospital or clinic setting, said John Hubbell, DVM, Dipl. ACVAA, of The Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine.

A board-certified veterinarian anesthesiologist with 35 years of experience, Hubbell presented his recommendations in a lecture at the 2013 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn.

Any time veterinarians put animals under anesthesia, there’s risk involved, Hubbell said. But for horses the possibility for problems is greater than it is for other species. For example, it’s estimated that one out of 100 horses might die under anesthesia, he said; in comparison, only one out of 1,000 dogs or cats die under anesthesia.

To minimize or identify risk prior to surgery, Hubbell stressed to the veterinary audience that they should complete blood work (prior to day of surgery), collect a full patient history, and perform and record a physical exam prior to anesthesia induction. “Preanesthetic blood work does not need to be extensive for short procedures,” he

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

How often do you buy blankets for your horse?
181 votes · 181 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!