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Avonvale Equine Vets: Our Team

Avonvale Equine Vet Practice involves a team of experienced and dedicated individuals. From our equine vets and vet nurses to our reception team, everyone at Avonvale Equine Vet Practice is committed to providing the best equine vet care to our clients’ horses.

We pride ourselves on being an independent equine vet practice, and our directors are also equine vets based here at Avonvale. Clients can also rest assured that night or day, there will always be an Avonvale Equine vet on-call.

Based at our equine vet clinic in Ratley, near Banbury, our equine vets cover a wide area stretching from the Midlands down to Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire across to Northamptonshire, including Warwick, Buckingham, The Cotswolds and surrounding areas. Read on to find out more about our team and visit our Coverage Area page to check that we cover your area. You can then register with us via the form.

Avonvale Equine Directors / Owners:

Our director/owners, Naomi and Claire, are both Advanced Certificate qualified and hugely experienced equine vets. As an independent equine vet practice, Avonvale is owned and managed by our vets, allowing us to provide excellent client care and a personal service.

Naomi de Pennington

MA Vet MB CertEM(IntMed) MRCVS

Naomi graduated from Cambridge Veterinary School in 2001 and after two years in general veterinary practice joined Avonvale in 2003. Following up her keen interest in equine medicine she completed her certificate in Equine Internal Medicine in 2006. She became a director of the practice in 2008. Naomi is recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as an Advanced Practitioner in Equine Internal Medicine. She leads the Avonvale breeding services and medicine teams.

She has particular interests in stud and foal medicine; gastroenterology including gastroscopy, colic investigations and colic surgery; ophthalmology; cardiology and poor performance. She has been the Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Warwick Racecourse since 2008. 

In her spare time she is a keen road cyclist, having recently represented Great Britain at the Gran Fondo (amateur road race) World Championships in Poland and she trains hard at running to be able to keep up with her daughter at Parkrun! She also has a large menagerie at home including two ponies, a flock of sheep, a few pigs, Kipper the cat and a loyal choccy lab called Bruno.

Claire Maher


Claire graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, London in 2007.  She has worked almost solely in equine practice since graduation gaining invaluable experience across the equine field as a whole.  Claire joined Avonvale in 2014, becoming a Director in 2015 alongside Naomi de Pennington.

Claire is an RCVS recognised Advanced Practitioner in Equine Orthopaedic surgery, holding a masters level certificate in Equine Orthopaedic Surgery and heads up our orthopaedic team here at Avonvale. She has a particular interest in both competition horses and leisure horses.  Claire also enjoys performing pre-purchase examinations for horses of all shapes, sizes and disciplines.

Claire is often accompanied on her rounds by her Jack Russell Terrier Bobbie.  Outside of work Claire is a keen rider of road bikes and horses (not simultaneously!!), and enjoys hill walking and climbing.

Avonvale Equine Veterinary Assistants

At Avonvale Equine Vet Practice, we have a team of equine vets. Our dedicated team are always happy to help our clients, be it by answering questions, providing advice, carrying out examinations and investigations or dealing with emergency cases.

Emily Douglas-Osborn


Emily is a familiar face at Avonvale, having completed her internship here after graduating from the University of Bristol in 2015. She worked in first opinion equine practice, and then at Twemlows Hall Stud Farm, before returning to us in November 2017.

She has a particular interest in poor performance, orthopaedics, reproduction work and all areas of general practice and has completed her Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice. Outside of work, Emily enjoys dressage, having competed in BD and BYRDs and has written for judges of all levels.   

Laura Holmes


Laura graduated as a veterinary surgeon from Edinburgh University in 2005. She then served in the British Army, as a vet, for nearly 9 years. During this time, she worked all over the world in places such as Iraq, Germany, Afghanistan and in London at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, gaining a huge variety of veterinary experience.

Since leaving the Army she has worked solely in equine practice and has completed her Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice including modules in equine dentistry, as she has a particular love for all things equine dentistry. Laura spends time both in the clinic and out on the road sharing her car with her naughty dog, Looby Lou.

When not being a vet, Laura can be found running around after her toddler. Once life as new mummy calms down Laura intends to get back to her loves of singing, travelling, Wainwrght walking and riding….but appreciates this may take longer than she thinks!

Carys Morgan



Carys has worked in equine practice since graduating from Liverpool in 2018, and after a brief stint working in Shropshire moved to Warwickshire. She enjoys all aspects of first opinion practice but is particularly interested in sports horse medicine, lameness and wounds.


When not at work, Carys can usually be found riding or vaulting, tailed by her naughty collie, Ginny. She was a member of the English Vaulting Squad and has represented Great Britain on a number of occasions notably at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon 2018, the European Championships in 2019 and 2023, and World Championships in Herning in 2022.  She now runs her own vaulting club - Midland Equestrian Vaulting.

Marika Sodano


Marika graduated from the University of Naples, Italy, in 2019 and subsequently completed a 3-month traineeship at Kuwait Equine Hospital in the Middle East. She then moved back to Italy, where she assisted an equine ambulatory vet for some months before she decided to move to the UK.

Her first experience in the UK was in a mixed practice in Derbyshire but she wanted to focus on only equine practice therefore she completed an 18-month internship in a busy equine referral hospital. Her main interests are stud medicine and anaesthesia. She has also started her certificate in stud medicine with University of Liverpool. 

Outside of work, Marika enjoys outdoor activities as running and swimming, she loves traveling and spending time with her friends, family and her cat Ron.

Charlotte Smith


Charlotte studied at the University of Surrey and graduated in July. She has joined Avonvale to complete her equine internship and is looking forward to developing her skills in all areas of general practice and has a particular interest in stud work.

Charlotte hails from Warwickshire and is a keen equestrian. She enjoys eventing and owns an Irish Sports horse and a little chestnut pony. She enjoys going to the gym and represented her university in polo, rowing and the University of Surrey Equestrian Club whilst studying.

Visiting Specialists

We work alongside several visiting equine veterinary specialists. This allows us to provide a comprehensive service to our clients and cover a wide range of equine veterinary services.

Dr Jessica Kidd

BA, DVM, CertES(Orth), Dipl ECVS, MRCVS RCVS and European Recognised Specialist in Equine Surgery

Jessica has been involved in equine surgery for more than 20 years. She is an RCVS and European Recognised Specialist in Equine Surgery.

She attended veterinary school at Purdue University in the States followed by two years in mixed practice in New England. After this she completed an internship at a referral racehorse hospital in Ocala, Florida and then returned to the UK to complete an equine surgery residency at the University of Bristol. This was followed by time as a surgery lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s veterinary school followed by holding the position of the University Equine Surgeon at the University of Cambridge. She then spent seven years in private practice as the surgeon at the Valley Equine Hospital in Lambourn, Berkshire which had a hospital population of racehorses, performance horses and pleasure horses and is currently an external surgical consultant to multiple practices.

She has presented veterinary presentations at national and international meetings in over twenty countries, has taught numerous CPD courses for other veterinary surgeons on specialised equine subjects and was an examiner for the RCVS certificates six times. She was the keynote speaker at both the New Zealand Equine Veterinary and the South African Veterinary Association Congresses in 2019.

She holds the RCVS certificate in Equine Surgery (Orthopaedics), is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons, and is an RCVS and European recognised specialist in Equine Surgery. Her areas of interest are both soft tissue and orthopaedic surgery, diagnostic imaging and investigation of lameness cases as well as neonatology and care of the pregnant mare.
For more information visit: www.kiddvet.com

Neil Townsend

MSc BVSc Cert ES (Soft Tissue) DipECVS DipEVDC (Equine) MRCVS RCVS Specialist in Equine Dentistry

Neil qualified from Bristol University in 2004 and following an 18month period in mixed practice, joined the Phillip Leverhulme Equine Hospital (PLEH) at Liverpool Vet School for an equine internship. Following this he joined Edinburgh Vet School as a resident in Equine Surgery and gained the RCVS Certificate in Equine Surgery and an MSc by Research. He re-joined the PLEH as a clinician in Equine Soft Tissue Surgery and gained European Diplomas in both Equine Surgery and Equine Dentistry.

He joined Three Counties Equine Hospital in October 2015 and is an RCVS Recognised Specialist in Equine Surgery and Veterinary Dentistry (Equine). He provides an in house and visiting Equine Surgery and Dentistry service. He has particular interest in all aspects of equine dentistry, including restorative and minimally invasive extraction methods along with sinus disease and disorders of the upper airway.

Equine Vet Nursing Team

The Avonvale Equine Vet Nursing team provide round-the-clock care to our inpatients. When your horse is admitted to our equine vet practice near Banbury, you know you can count on our dedicated equine vet nurses to provide compassionate and expert care.

Lucy Lawson

Head Nurse (RVN)

Fiona Watt

Student Veterinary Nurse (SVN)

Rosie Sheppard

Veterinary Nursing Assistant

Equine Vet Practice Administration Team

Our equine vet practice in Ratley, near Banbury, is managed by a team of administrators with excellent equine knowledge. Our reception team are only an email or phone call away and are always happy to help.

Debbie Glover

Practice Manager

Pippa Harvey

Accounts and Office Administrator

Victoria Pick

Head Receptionist

Clare Blackwall

Receptionist and Administration Assistant