Equine veterinary legend Peter Rossdale dies at 94

Dr Peter Rossdale
Dr Peter Rossdale (1927-2021)

Renowned equine veterinarian Dr Peter Rossdale has died at the age of 94, after a short illness.

Rossdale, who died on November 26, founded the Rossdale and Partners practice in Newmarket, England, and was recognised as the “father of equine perinatology”.

Peter Daniel Rossdale OBE, MA, PhD, Drmedvet (hc Bern), DVMS (hc Edinburgh), DVSc (hc Sydney), FACVSc, DESM, FRCVS, was born in London on September 8, 1927, and was the fourth child of eminent London doctor George Rossdale.

His colleagues at Rossdales wrote that he was “perhaps one of the first practitioners to embrace ‘evidence-based medicine’, before the term was invented”.

Rossdale’s interest in horses started at the age of six, and he wanted to become a jockey. In 1948 he entered the Royal Veterinary College, firstly in Camden Town, and then in Streatley, near Reading. He became a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1952 and spent two years in mixed practice in Rye, Sussex.

Rossdale married Jill Clifton in 1954, and they had two sons and a daughter.

Around this time he rode in point-to-point races with some success. He later bought a thoroughbred broodmare, and bred her to stallions at Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket, leading to him joining the Reynolds, Leader, Day and Crowhurst practice in the racing town.

The Rossdales started a new practice in Newmarket in 1959, and in 1961, along with Michael Hunt, formed Rossdale & Partners. The practice now has more than 50 veterinarians, an equine hospital, diagnostic centre, and pathology laboratory, and branches in Hertfordshire and Lambourn. In 2002 at the age of 75, he retired from the partnership.

Rossdale was a founder member of the British Equine Veterinary Association, serving as president in 1976.

In his early career as a stud vet, Rossdale became a leading figure in establishing equine perinatology as a scientific discipline, and in doing so stimulated research collaboration around the world.

Rossdale obtained an FRCVS by thesis in 1967 and, in 1985, a PhD from Cambridge University on the basis of published papers in the peer-reviewed literature. He has received Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Berne, Edinburgh and Sydney.

He was editor of the Equine Veterinary Journal from 1980 to 2011, securing its place in the top 10 of the world’s veterinary journals. In 1986 he launched Equine Veterinary Education and established it as the leading journal for equine practitioners.

Peter Rossdale with The BEVA Equine Welfare Award sponsored by Blue Cross.
Peter Rossdale with the BEVA Equine Welfare Award in 2018. © Rossdales

Rossdale’s contributions to scientific research have been widely published; he was the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed papers. Other books included The Horse’s Health From A-Z, co-authored with Sue Wreford, Equine Studfarm Medicine, editing  Veterinary Notes for Horse Owners, and many others.

Rossdale was inducted into the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s Equine Research Hall of Fame, and was a founder member of the International Symposium on Equine Reproduction, which is held every four years from 1974.

Rossdale was one of the founding board members of the RCVS’ Equine Certificates and Diplomas in Equine Stud Medicine. He has been awarded Doctorates, honoris causa, by the Universities of Bern, Edinburgh and Sydney. In 1996 Rossdale received an OBE for services to equine veterinary science. The Royal Veterinary College awarded him their Fellowship, and the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association awarded him their Devonshire bronze, which recognises outstanding achievement and contribution to the British Thoroughbred breeding industry. In 2018 Rossdale received the BEVA Equine Welfare Award.

Jane Rossdale died in 1999, and Peter married Mary Sharkey. She cared for him after suffered a stroke in 2020, which left him wheelchair-bound.

Peter Rossdale is survived by Mary, his sons Simon and Anthony, daughter Sally, and six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.




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