A group of New Forest vets received a prestigious accolade at a national awards event that sparked more than 18,000 nominations.

Minstead-based Celtic Equine Vets, which operates across Hampshire and two other counties, won the Veterinary Practice of the Year category at the 2023 Equestrian Business Awards.

The practice covers west Hampshire, including the New Forest, plus south Wiltshire and parts of Dorset.

Celtic Equine was one of three finalists shortlisted on the strength of reviews submitted by clients.

Owner Alan Hough and practice manager Laura Moore were interviewed at length by the awards organiser, Katy Wright, and independent veterinary judge Andrew Wallace.

Salisbury Journal: Melita Majhut, Alan Hough, Chloe Casalis de Pury, and Kirsty HibbsMelita Majhut, Alan Hough, Chloe Casalis de Pury, and Kirsty Hibbs (Image: Celtic Equine Vets)

The judging panel said: "Winning Vet Practice of the Year is a testament to the team's hard work, perseverance, and exceptional knowledge as well as your approachable and friendly ethos.

"The fact you have so many loyal clients speaks for itself.

"Your success serves as an inspiration and model to all within the equestrian and veterinary community, and we are proud to celebrate your well-deserved recognition."

READ MORE: Donkey freed by firefighters in rescue operation involving Celtic Equine Vets

The practice, which has been operating for 13 years, provides veterinary cover at events including the Romsey Show.

Salisbury Journal: Chloe Casalis de Pury uses a weighbridgeChloe Casalis de Pury uses a weighbridge (Image: Celtic Equine Vets)

A practice spokesperson said: "Celtic Equine have always invested in the latest portable veterinary equipment, which allows their team to deliver hospital-grade veterinary for their patients."

Each vet is equipped with a raft of hi-tech diagnostic devices, plus a large range of equine dental equipment.

"This removes the time-consuming, costly, and stressful process of owners of having to take their equines to and from clinics and hospitals for investigations and procedures."

READ MORE: Vet issues urgent beach warning to dog owners after pet hospitalised

The spokesperson said Celtic Equine was one of the few local practices that still covered its own out-of-hours emergency calls.

They added: "The team believes vets should provide a holistic approach to equine health, with a focus on preventative medicine.

"They offer nutritional and behavioural consultations, and each of their vets has advanced training in equine dentistry."

Salisbury Journal: Alan Hough uses a therapeutic laser to treat one of his patientsAlan Hough uses a therapeutic laser to treat one of his patients (Image: Celtic Equine Vets)

Referring to the high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression known to exist in the industry, the spokesperson said the practice "protected" its vets by ensuring their working day included ample travel and visit times, with no visits booked in later than 4.30pm.

The spokesperson said the team was incredibly proud of its successes and was constantly looking for ways to continue providing gold-standard care to equines in the Forest and the surrounding area.

First held in 2021, the awards attracted 18,870 nominations in 2023 - up from just under 17,000 in the previous year.