Monthly Archives: January 2016

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Internship Program Brings the Best to South Florida

Ryan Lukens eye

While Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) may be known for the 28 superb veterinarians who call it home, they are also a driving force in educating the next generation of equine medical professionals. Through world-renowned internship and externship programs, PBEC molds new veterinarians every day.

Each year, four interns work with PBEC veterinarians for a 12-month period. Whether from externships that usually last up to two weeks and serve as an introduction to the practice, or by references from top veterinarians across the U.S. and abroad, PBEC attracts the most promising young vets in the field.

Currently, PBEC is host to recently graduated vet students from Oklahoma, Scotland, and Argentina. According to PBEC veterinarian Dr. Weston Davis who leads the Internship program, South Florida attracts only the best.

“We really have the cream of the crop because they have big opportunities here,” said Dr. Davis. “A lot of internships can offer work with one or two vets, but what’s cool at PBEC is they can pick from the collection of doctors we have.”

PBEC’s interns rotate through three phases, including hands-on application of hospital anesthetization, imaging – both from ambulatory duty and elective – and working with a doctor of their choice based on their specific interests.

Dr. Davis has been with PBEC for two years and immediately took interest in making the internship program the best it could be. In two years, he has made one of the world’s best programs even better.

“I wanted to make it as organized and structured as it could be so they can get as much out of that year as possible,” he said. “The general rule is that doing a one-year internship puts you three to five years ahead of those that come out of school and start out on their own. Interns come out of school with a handle on book knowledge and the internships give them a good clinical appreciation for those same topics. They see a lot and do a lot under the supervision of seasoned vets while they are here.”

While PBEC internships offer obvious perks for the interns themselves, it also has added benefit for the vets already at the clinic.

“The value for the interns is they get to see a tremendous amount of cases in short time, but it’s also valuable for us because they come out of school with fresh knowledge, new ideas, and keep us current and on our toes,” said Dr. Davis.

Traditionally vet students will fulfill their internship requirements and move on to find a full-time position at other practices. Dr. Davis himself did just that after graduating from the University of Florida College Of Veterinary Medicine and interning at Oakridge Equine Hospital in Oklahoma. But, the experiences available at PBEC keep its interns staying put.

History has proven that many interns who work for PBEC as interns go on to accept full-time positions at the clinic. One of those vets is Dr. Ryan Lukens. After earning his DVM from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, he began an internship with PBEC in 2012.

“I am so pleased that I did my internship with Palm Beach Equine,” said Dr. Lukens. “It was basically another year of school where I got to focus on exactly what I wanted to do.”

Dr. Lukens specialized in sports medicine, lameness, and diagnostic imaging, which is a passion he inherited from his father, a fellow veterinarian. His experience with PBEC solidified that concentration thanks to the latest in veterinary technology.

“When I came to PBEC, I had access to all the newest equipment. That gave me more tools to improve my skills under the direction of a full network of senior vets,” added Dr. Lukens. “When you leave vet school, you have a question every hour of the day, and I had a number of vets who were a phone call away to answer those questions. I never had to second-guess myself because they were there to help me learn. But, there also isn’t always one way to do something correctly. I learned the opinions of so may vets who do things just a little differently, and it helped me to find my own way and what’s best for the horses I treat.”

Thanks to PBEC, horse owners in South Florida and beyond have access to well-educated veterinarians with hands-on experience that is unmatched.


Palm Beach Equine Clinic: New Services, New Technology


Palm Beach Equine Clinic is renowned for its full-service surgical center and intensive care hospital located in the heart of Wellington, Florida. Board certified surgeons, primary care veterinarians and hospital technicians are scheduled 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to treat, monitor and care for critical cases. With world class veterinarians and a full staff of highly trained technicians, both clients and patients of PBEC are in the best hands possible.

Palm Beach Equine’s surgical suite and staff is prepared to handle all kinds of emergencies, day and night. The large team of 26 veterinarians includes three Board Certified Surgeons who rotate on call duties for all emergencies. This aids Palm Beach Equine veterinarians and all of the Southeast with the ability to treat their emergencies quickly, especially any requiring surgical assistance. The state of the art intensive care hospital is equipped with digital video cameras for the clinicians to easily monitor their patients from any location, at any time. PBEC also has a full-service laboratory on-site equipped with hematology, chemistry, and microbiology equipment to internally evaluate each case and provide rapid results.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic prides itself as a consistent leader in horse sport medicine and recently upgraded its scanning technologies to provide better equine diagnostic imaging services for their clients.

Last fall, PBEC installed a state-of-the-art MRI lab containing the Equine Standing MRI manufactured by Hallmarq, which allows scans of the equine foot and lower limb to be done in a standing position requiring only light sedation. Additionally, last year PBEC completed the renovation of a Nuclear Scintigraphy lab with the installation of the new top of-the-line MiE Equine Nuclear Scintigraphy camera. This new gamma ray camera is designed with sharper contours for more precise imaging and lameness diagnosis. The advanced technology provides the ability to acquire high quality images regardless of small patient movements, alleviating the necessity for re-scans and reduces the time required to complete a scan. Both MRI and Nuclear Scintigraphy can be extremely useful in diagnosing lameness origins and determining appropriate, effective treatment for your horse. PBEC has a Board Certified Radiologist on site to interpret images to assist with diagnosis.

For Palm Beach Equine Clinic, 2016 will be an exciting year for expansion of our physical facility. PBEC plans on adding an additional 4,000 square feet of air conditioned examination areas, an additional surgical suite and recovery stall, as well as, climate controlled isolation quarantine stalls. Under the guidance of Dr. Sarah Puchalski, our in house Board Certified Radiologist, Palm Beach Equine Clinic hopes to add the first equine Computed Tomography service (CT scans) to our diagnostic imaging expertise.

For more information on our facility or in case of an emergency, please call (561) 793-1599 to contact an on-call veterinarian.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic – Serving the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center As Official Veterinarians This Winter

PBEC WEF Annex rs

When the New Year arrives and equestrians flock to Wellington by the thousands, there is one name that stands out in the field of veterinary care. Palm Beach Equine Clinic is the gold standard for the treatment of the many sport horses that arrive to compete at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, which hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival and Adequan® Global Dressage Festival from January to April. They are the long-standing Official Veterinarians of the Winter Equestrian Festival and have been the Official Veterinarians of the AGDF since its inception in 2012.

Providing a veterinarian for on-call service for every competition day for the 12 consecutive weeks of the circuits is no easy task, but Palm Beach Equine Clinic draws on over 30 years of experience in the Wellington area. All 28 veterinarians, including the three surgeons, rotate in the on-call schedule at WEF and AGDF. Along with being on-site every Tuesday through Sunday, they attend every FEI jog at WEF and AGDF, provide Team Veterinarian support, and serve as FEI Veterinary Delegates. The team of veterinarians includes specialists who are board-certified in surgery, internal medicine, radiology, and ophthalmology.

One of PBEC’s veterinarians, Dr. Hillary Clayton enjoys the part of her job that brings her to the competition and notes that the system that has been put in place ensures a smooth operation for the vets and the events. The veterinarians are based out of the new WEF Annex Office, which is located near the Stabling Office at the back exhibitor entrance of the main PBIEC grounds.

“We have a very good system,” Clayton affirms. “We have the primary vet here, and we are ready with a golf cart outfitted with everything we would need in an emergency situation to stabilize a horse and help it leave the ring.”

Palm Beach Equine Clinic works with an Equine Ambulance, which is fully outfitted to safely and securely remove an injured or sick horse. “From there, depending on what is wrong with it, we can send it to Palm Beach Equine Clinic. That’s a comfort because I know the horse is going to be in the best hands there,” Dr. Clayton says.

Just minutes down the road from PBIEC, the Palm Beach Equine Clinic provides 24-hour emergency coverage, complete surgical procedures, and intensive care at the hospital every day of the year. There is an on-site pharmacy, full laboratory, and diagnostic imaging equipment, including a Nuclear Scintigraphy gamma ray camera and a standing MRI.

Dr. Clayton was assisting at the WEF show on the day in 2014 when a jumper had an accident in the DeNemethy Ring, when the jump standard punctured its stomach. Dr. Clayton and Dr. Robert Brusie stepped in quickly to help stabilize the horse, load it into the ambulance, and drive to Palm Beach Equine Clinic for emergency surgery. Only 30 minutes elapsed from the time of the accident to when the horse was on the table for emergency surgery. The surgery was led by Dr. Robert Brusie and Dr. Weston Davis to repair the horse’s abdomen and internal organ injuries. His miraculous recovery is the combination of quick thinking and amazing care provided by Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

The horse’s owner, the legendary Nelson Pessoa, said at the time, “They said it was a miracle. I want to say for everybody that has a horse here at this horse show, this clinic is something. You hope things like this won’t happen, but for sure with the number of horses and the amount of jumping here, things like that happen sometimes. It’s a great thing to have this support. People don’t always realize this – we realize now because it happened to us. I’m very grateful for [Palm Beach Equine Clinic].”

Dr. Clayton remembers, “Those things happen very rarely, luckily. You’ve always got to be ready to leap into action. When I get here in the morning, I make sure the golf cart is running and everything is prepared. I talk to the ambulance staff and know who is here. It’s a big show grounds. I might be looking at a horse in a tent at the end of the facility. You’ve got to have your ears open, have your radio on, and have your phone as a back up.”

While the emergency situation is what many people imagine when they think of an official horse show veterinarian, they may not know that the vets on the grounds are also available for any type of veterinary assistance. These include such regular needs as lameness problems, health certificates, and pre-purchase examinations. Those who need a vet can always call the main Palm Beach Equine Clinic office to schedule a visit, or just stop by the WEF Annex Office to talk to a vet.

“We do routine work as well and are always available for the regular services for any of the exhibitors on the show grounds and in local barns,” Dr. Clayton acknowledges.

The WEF Annex Office is connected to a permanent stable, where a treatment area is available for such work as radiographs, ultrasounds, and more. “It’s nice for people at the show to know there is a base here. They can come to the office and knock on the door if they want to come talk to us,” says Dr. Clayton.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic provides experience, knowledge, availability, and the very best care for the horses of Wellington. To find out more, please visit or call 561-793-1599. “Like” them on Facebook to follow along on what happens in Wellington and more, and get news from their Twitter!

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Welcomes Dr. Stephen O’Grady for Therapeutic Farrier Consultation this Winter Season

Farrier Event

Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) is excited to announce that Dr. Stephen E. O’Grady, DVM, MRCVS, will be joining forces with their team to offer farriery consulting during the winter season in Wellington, FL. Dr. O’Grady, of Keswick, VA, is the head veterinarian at Virginia Therapeutic Farriery. Through his practice at Virginia Therapeutic Farriery, Dr. O’Grady provides advanced services in equine podiatry. This service offers comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and maintenance for a variety of foot conditions using medical therapy, as well as therapeutic shoeing.

Dr. O’Grady began his career as a professional farrier for ten years prior to obtaining his degree in veterinary medicine. He learned the farrier trade through a formal apprenticeship under “Hall of Fame” farrier, Joseph M. Pierce, of West Chester, Pennsylvania. He returned to school to attend Haverford College and continued on to graduate from the University of Pretoria, Faculty of Veterinary Science in South Africa with a DVM Degree in 1981. After graduating from veterinary school, Dr. O’Grady did an equine internship in Cape Town, South Africa. Following the completion of his internship, Dr. O’ Grady teamed with Dr. Dan Flynn at the prestigious Georgetown Equine Hospital in Charlottesville, VA, where he stayed for 10 years before opening his own practice. In 2003, he opened Northern Virginia Equine in Marshall, Virginia, which is a referral practice devoted to foot disease and equine therapeutic farriery. Dr. O’ Grady expertly combines his knowledge as a veterinarian and skills as a farrier to better understand and effectively treat problems in the foot. The combination of educational backgrounds allows Dr. O’Grady to treat each foot problem on an individual basis with an understanding of both the medical physiology and the mechanics of the equine foot.

Along with his comprehensive experience, Dr. O’Grady has published 25 peer-reviewed papers in the veterinary literature, numerous papers in the farrier literature, written ten book chapters and edited two editions of Veterinary Clinics of North America on equine podiatry and therapeutic farriery – all resulting from his extensive work in equine podiatry. In 2003, he was inducted into the International Equine Veterinarians Hall of Fame and in 2009, he received the AAEP President’s Award for his work in farrier education.

This season in Wellington, Florida, Dr. O’Grady is offering a unique equine podiatry consulting service where he will be able to team with veterinarians and farriers to consult on resolving cases with serious hoof problems. Consultations can be used for a variety of complicated hoof conditions where the problem is severe, chronic and non-responsive to the present treatment. Hoof problems such as severe injuries, acute or chronic laminitis, hoof wall defects (non-healing quarter or toe cracks), hoof capsule distortions (club feet, long toe under-run heels) and severe hoof disease (Infections, WLD, canker). Dr. O’Grady also consults on therapeutic shoeing. Please note that Dr. O’Grady will not be providing routine hoof care or performing the farriery, as this is the domain of your farrier and this service will be on a consultation basis only.

There is no structure on the horse that is as susceptible to injury, disease or “wear and tear” than the equine foot. Proper, timely hoof care can often make the difference between a sound performance horse and one with chronic lameness.

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Dr. Richard Wheeler Discusses USEF Vaccination Requirement Rule Change

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This fall, The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) unveiled its latest health rule requiring all horses entering a Federation-licensed competition be accompanied by documentation of Equine Influenza Virus (flu) and Equine Herpes Virus (rhinopneumonitis) vaccinations within six months of being stabled at the show. Now approaching a month of enforcement during the 2016 winter show season, the new vaccination requirements enacted by the USEF gave structure to requirements that were previously being developed and enforced on a show-by-show basis.

After Florida’s Equine Herpes (EHV) scare in February of 2013, horse show facilities began adopting vaccination requirements of their own, usually requiring EHV-1 and EHV-4 vaccines within 90 to 120 days of a horse’s arrival to the grounds.

Now, USEF specifically requires all licensed competitions comply with the same set of requirements while not increasing the workload for competition management. The six-month timeline also matches the operating procedures of international shows overseen by the FEI as well.

According to Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s own Dr. Richard Wheeler, the rule change simply makes sense.

“Most people regularly vaccinate their horses every six months anyway, so this rule should not present a disruption to current practices,” he said. “After the 2013 scare, competitions recognized the potential of closure due to infectious disease and started creating requirements which became inconsistent between shows.”

Whether directly or indirectly affected by rule change itself, an increase in awareness regarding equine infectious disease in recent years had minimized outbreaks, according to Dr. Wheeler.

“A good job is being done so far to keep a big problem away,” he added.

While efforts by the USEF, veterinarians, and horse owners alike have proved successful in keeping horses safe and healthy, Dr. Wheeler was quick to remind the equine community to not get complacent. He stresses the continuation of education and awareness.

“An increase in bio-security is the most significant benefit we’ve had as a result of these requirements,” he said. “This is the most protective measure that we have taken on as a community, and people are now cognizant of how disruptive bringing a sick horse to a show can be. We see people getting vets involved quickly and shows doing a good job of providing isolation. What’s been done in the past few years is a positive thing, but it’s important that we don’t let our guard down because we haven’t had an outbreak in a few years.”

In addition to abiding by the USEF’s six-month rule, Dr. Wheeler also suggests the individuals responsible for caring for horses continue their efforts past the gates of the facility.

“Horse shows are often condensed places and limiting the exposure of horses is difficult,” he said. “It’s important that we stay really aware, take temperatures regularly, identify sick horses, and isolate them immediately. It’s all key to prevent outbreaks.”

Thanks to regulations, always improving technology, educated veterinarians, and diligent horsemen and women, the equine community is becoming more guarded against infectious disease than ever before.

To read more about the USEF vaccination requirement, click here. The experts at Palm Beach Equine Clinic stand ready to answer any questions horse owners may have about vaccinations and the requirements needed for equestrian competitions.

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