Equine Surgeon

BVSc, MACVSc (Surgery of Horses),

Completed an American College of Veterinary Surgeons approved and accepted training program (2009-2013).


Why Vets Love Her…

A graduate of Sydney University in 2003, Willsallen completed an internship in equine medicine and surgery at Agnes Banks Equine Clinic during 2004.  She then sssociated with surgical focus at Canberra Equine Hospital (2005) and Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital (2007-9) before completing a four year equine surgical training program at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.  She has have completed many externships with various surgeons around the world including England, United States and throughout Australia. She’s currently based in Sydney working with Dr Nick Kannegieter. She’s also the recipient of numerous awards and memberships with the AVA and Equine Veterinarians Australia since 2003.


On Rare Days Off…

Hadley enjoys sailing, riding, farm work, skiing (water or snow) and tennis.

She says that: “having recently experienced the grueling American Collage of Veterinary Surgeons examination process my answer has recently changed from study to river floats, fishing and skurfing (this is not a typo, it involves using a surf board as a water skii!!)”


Words from our Educator:

“Horses are a challenging species to work with, if you give them the opportunity to break they will!  So being knowledgeable and skillful is essential to getting good results with horses.  In addition, things will never go well ALL of the time, so the ability to handle these situations is also crucial when treating horses.”

“Understanding anatomy is the key to lameness, and this is one of the most important things that we will teach you at the seminar.”

Thoughts on Veterinary Horror Stories:

“I cannot over emphasise the importance of a thorough, knowledgeable clinical examination. With this skill most lameness examinations will be rewarding.  However, lameness investigations can be time consuming and frustrating, and sometimes despite your best efforts and the client’s commitment, the diagnosis remains elusive.  Knowing what the options are with these horses can give you the confidence to tackle lameness head on.”

“The well-known lameness mantra is that the lameness emanates from the hoof until proven otherwise.   For example, the ole sub-solar hoof abscess can present in 1000s of ways. I have misdiagnosed a fractured proximal sesamoid bone on clinical exam, until a thorough hoof tester examination revealed a hoof abscess.  I have also known of horses that have undergone MRI examinations to diagnose a difficult foot abscess.  These cases emphasizing the importance of ruling out the foot, which is occasionally not as simple as it seems!”

What She Didn’t Learn in a Textbook:

“Equine lameness is difficult to learn from a textbook! It is a ‘doing’ sport.  I think all aspects of it are improved with experience, from identifying the lameness, performing nerve blocks/joint injections and the use of imaging modalities.”

“My practical advice for other vets would have to be, keep practicing! And as much as possible, which is why this seminar is so fulfilling.  After dissecting horses limbs for several years, I still learn more during a dissection session.”


Procedure, technology, or medication she has used and realized that there was a better alternative:

“One of the greatest advancements has been in the area of diagnostic imaging technologies.  There is no comparison between the convenience and efficiency of digital or computed radiology with the tiresome, messy emulsion films. (Although the diagnostic quality may not vary!).  Advanced imaging technologies like MRI and contrast CT have also revealed an entire realm of soft tissue injuries that could not be diagnosed prior to their use.  These modalities have given the profession new knowledge and encouraged cross-referencing with ultrasound and radiographic examinations to evolve our interpretation of these primary imaging modalities as well.”

Dr Willsallen’s Practical Surgical Tip:

Gentle tissue handling techniques are key.  Halsted’s principles should be your surgical aims.

Dr Willsallen’s Advice to New Graduates:

Be confident and competent, and don’t be worried about asking for help if your not yet either of these things, yet.  Make sure your questioning and learning goes on forever.



“Meet Dr Hadley Willsallen,” by Stephanie Buelna at VetPrac ®

A hearty thank you to Dr Hadley Willsallen for this exclusive interview. It’s an honour to welcome her as a VetPrac education leader. Learn from her at the VetPrac Equine Lameness Workshop. Click here to download the Equine Lameness Brochure. And share these practical tips with your veterinary friends on Facebook or by email!