Monthly Archives: February 2016

Palm Beach Equine Clinic to Provide Microchipping Services at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center


Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) will be offering microchipping services in the Annex office located on the show grounds at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) recently passed a new rule which requires all United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) registered horses to be microchipped.

As of December 1, 2017, all hunters, jumpers and equitation horses will be required to be microchipped in order to accumulate points towards their showing record. The USEF is allowing a grace period until November 30, 2018. Following that grace period, all horses must have their microchip identification numbers recorded with the USEF in order to compete at USEF sanctioned shows for the competition year. After this period, animals which are not


microchipped will be ineligible to compete in Federation licensed competitions, as stated on the USEF website.

 In anticipation of this rule update, Palm Beach Equine is making it easy for all competitors at the Winter Equestrian Festival to quickly and easily have their horses’ microchipped.

At the Annex office on the WEF show grounds, PBEC will scan horses for any chips previously placed. If no chip is found, a sterile procedure will be performed to easily implant a chip within the nuchal ligament. Official stickers of the microchip number will be provided for your records and convenience for updating any passports or USEF forms. PBEC Veterinarians will also be available to answer questions and assist in properly updating all records for your equine athlete. It is a quick in and out procedure – the cost is $25 per placement of microchip and $5 to screen for existing chips. Cash or check only.

The tentative dates for the microchipping clinic are:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Each microchipping clinic session is open from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m.

The client is responsible for registering the chip with the USEF. Luckily, microchips last forever and there is no need to repeat this process.

Microchipping horses is the first step in helping owners and potential buyers move towards more reliable horse identification methods. Microchips will help record the accurate age of a horse. A horse’s age can be assessed by a veterinarian based on their teeth. After the age of 10, horses may wear their teeth differently which can be difficult to evaluate their true age. Additionally, microchips can also save horses from slaughter in the unfortunate case that they are mistakenly sent.

To learn more about the USEF rule change, please see the website link:

Palm Beach Equine Clinic provides experience, knowledge, availability, and the very best care for the horses of Wellington. Have them be a part of your team!  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!

Dr. Sarah Puchalski Leads Palm Beach Equine Clinic to the Forefront of Diagnostic Sport Horse Imaging

Dr. Sarah Puchalski

Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) is one of the few equine hospitals in the country to have a full-time radiologist on-site during season. With the addition of Dr. Sarah Puchalski to their staff, as well as the installation of the most state-of-the-art imaging equipment, PBEC has become a leader in diagnostic sport horse imaging.

Dr. Puchalski is one of very few board certified equine Radiologists in the country and one of the most high profile of those in the world. Early in her career, Dr. Puchalski earned the respect of the best in the industry and strives to continue to contribute advances for equine sports medicine and diagnostic imaging.

Dr. Puchalski’s job takes extensive training and a high level of specialization to properly review diagnostic imaging, including MRIs and Nuclear Scintigraphy bone scans to produce written reports for referring veterinarians. In addition to her full-time position with PBEC, she reads cases from all over the world on a daily basis. Many veterinarians and owners request to consult with her for a second opinion.
Potential for Growth

After eight years working as a faculty member at the University of California Davis, Dr. Puchalski decided to take a job with Palm Beach Equine Clinic in December 2013. She had been consulting on PBEC cases for several years prior to the move and felt it was a natural progression. PBEC made huge advances to their in-house imaging technology under her direction.
Almost 30 years ago, Palm Beach Equine Clinic bought the first ultrasound for equine practice in South Florida. Twenty-five years ago, PBEC installed the first gamma ray camera to perform bone scans (Nuclear Scintigraphy). Twenty years ago, PBEC developed Computed Radiography (CR) for horses. Currently, PBEC has the most advanced state-of-the-art surgical and diagnostic imaging equipment available. Onsite, they have a Hallmarq standing MRI unit, MiE gamma ray camera, Digital Radiography, Video Endoscopy, and a bevy of additional diagnostic equipment.

“PBEC has a great case population and great equipment, which is a huge bonus for someone doing what I do,” Dr. Puchalski stated. “The equipment is exceptional, the technical staff is excellent, and the case population of the region is obviously amazing.”

Palm Beach Equine Clinic is dedicated to providing exceptional veterinary service for the horse, and Dr. Puchalski proudly supports that mission through her work. She diagnoses issues from complicated images that assist veterinarians in the proper, effective treatment plan. She is able to provide a second opinion on routine diagnostic techniques such as radiographs and ultrasounds. She is also able to provide diagnostic reports for pre-purchase examinations based on the imaging submitted.

For Dr. Puchalski, the potential for future growth in diagnostic imaging services at PBEC is huge.

“There are new technologies coming into the market for imaging all of the time and PBEC will remain abreast of those advances,” Dr. Puchalski said. “Going forward, we are looking to acquire new equipment, and I think it is fair to say that the hospital will see an increasing role with different kinds of cases. There are a lot of changes in the market that occur very quickly, so we are always trying to figure out the best thing for this practice.”

Finding Time to Ride

In addition to working with PBEC locally and assisting veterinarians around the world, Dr. Puchalski competes her Oldenburg mare, Lucia de Luxe, in the Medium and High Amateur-Owner Jumpers.

Dr. Puchalski splits her time throughout the year between her homes in California and Florida. She is based in Wellington for about five months, and enjoys competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival, for which PBEC serves as the official veterinarians.

Although her horse is currently injured, Dr. Puchalski normally rides every day and enjoys the flexibility of her job that supports her riding schedule.

“One of the best parts of what I do is the flexible schedule,” she admitted. “I try to ride every day and fit everything else around it. I can really do my job from anywhere. It can be completely web-based, which I love.”

“First thing in the morning, I check into the clinic and check on the imaging cases for the day,” Dr. Puchalski detailed. “I usually read some MRI and Nuclear Scintigraphy cases and then go ride mid-morning. Then I come back and read cases for my other clients. PBEC is a big chunk of my work, but a lot of my cases also come from global clients; I have clients all over the world.”
From a Small Town to Big Dreams

Dr. Puchalski grew up on a small-town acreage in British Columbia and started riding at a very young age. She got her first pony when she was four years old and continued riding at a three-day eventing barn next door to her home. Early on, Dr. Puchalski knew that she wanted to be a veterinarian. Dr. Puchalski graduated with a BS in Biology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and completed her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. She interned in Field Service and Sports Medicine at New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed her residency in Radiology at UC Davis in 2005.
During her internship at the New Bolton Center, Dr. Puchalski decided to pursue a career as a Radiologist thanks in part to one of her valued mentors, Virginia Reef, at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Dr. Reef was a huge influence on my career direction at that stage,” Dr. Puchalski noted. “Ginny was an influence in me becoming a radiologist, and then as a radiologist, I was mentored by Tim O’Brien at UC Davis – he is a founding father of equine radiology.”

Continuing to Have an Influence

Prior to joining PBEC in 2013, Dr. Puchalski spent eight years on the faculty of UC Davis providing research instruction and clinical service. Dr. Puchalski has published many scientific articles in diagnostic imaging and equine injuries which was a huge component of her early career.

“Once you have published research, the spinoff is then to publish in textbooks and other literature, so I have done a number of chapters for major lameness and diagnostic imaging textbooks as well,” Dr. Puchalski explained. “I have published more than 50 scientific articles and performed over 100 presentations all over the world on lameness diagnosis and diagnostic imaging in sport horses. I am currently trying really hard to still publish study results and be involved with universities, but also have a very busy private practice caseload.”

Outside of work and horses, Dr. Puchalski enjoys the challenges of Crossfit. In addition to her time spent in Florida and California, she also spends several weeks every summer working and showing at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Dr. Puchalski is an integral part of the team at Palm Beach Equine Clinic and will continue to serve PBEC’s clientele as diagnostic imaging advances into the future.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic provides experience, knowledge, availability, and the very best care for the horses of Wellington. Have them be a part of your team!  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!

More About Dr. Sarah Puchalski


Dr. Puchalski is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology whose specialty includes the interpretation of radiographs in addition to other diagnostic imaging techniques.

Dr. Puchalski is from Davis, CA, where she was an associate professor at the University of California in their Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences. In 1995, she received her BSc in biology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and in 1999 earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where she received the ACVS Outstanding Large Animal Surgery Student award that same year. Dr. Puchalski interned in Field Service and Sports Medicine at New Bolton Center at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, and completed her residency in radiology at UC Davis in 2005.

Dr. Puchalski has devoted her career to teaching and improving equine health through the development and refinement of diagnostic techniques. In 2011 she contributed to two books on the topic of equine lameness. Her recent contributions include chapters in Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse edited by Ross and Dyson, as well as in Veterinary Computed Tomography and the Clinical Veterinary Advisor: The Horse, Equine Colic and Veterinary Clinics of North America. She also has contributed close to 50 scientific articles concerning the diagnosis of equine lameness to many periodic journals, including Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound: the official journal of the American College of Veterinary Radiology and the International Veterinary Radiology Association; Veterinary Pathology; Equine Veterinary Journal; the American Journal of Veterinary Research; Equine Veterinary Education; Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association; and Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Dr. Richard Wheeler Talks Equine Pre-Purchase Exams

Dr Wheeler pic-1

Wellington, FL – Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s (PBEC) Dr. Richard Wheeler recently shared the basic steps he takes in performing an equine pre-purchase exam. Dr. Wheeler and PBEC’s 28 veterinarians, including Board Certified surgeons, internal medicine specialists, and radiologists are considered some of the most experienced in the disciplines of show jumping, dressage, and polo. All of the doctors enjoy the opportunity to work with many of the top horses in the world in all disciplines featured in PBEC’s home base of Wellington, FL.

With thousands of horses competing in Wellington at events such as the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, equine sales are a big part of the business for many equestrians throughout the winter season. PBEC’s pre-purchase examination services are always available to assist in making the best decision on your purchase.

No matter what the breed or discipline, pre-purchase exams include several basic initial steps. First, an overall health evaluation of the horse is completed, including previous health history, general condition, and conformation, as well as specific examination of the body systems including eyes, cardiovascular system and respiratory system. Next, a lameness assessment is completed, including flexion tests, soft tissue structure palpation, and movement evaluation. Additional diagnostic imaging such as radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound, endoscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or nuclear scintigraphy (bone scans) may be requested for additional information.
The purpose for the veterinarian to perform an examination of the horse is to assess its current state of health and soundness at the time of the examination, as well as gather information that may help to predict a level of risk for the future use of the horse. Dr. Wheeler explained the steps that he takes when evaluating a horse for sale, as follows:

  • “The first thing I do is talk to the potential buyer and trainer to gather their expectations and any concerns that have arisen during the trial of the horse. Next I discuss the horse with the current owner and/or trainer to determine what level of training or competition it is in, and if it has any previous issues that they are dealing with.”
  • “Then we look at the horse in a static exam in the stall. We do a physical exam, looking at the whole body from front to back. Key points are the eyes, heart, and lungs and we palpate from the head and neck, to the back, and down the limbs. We are looking for signs of old injuries or areas that may have issues; conformation comes into play here as well.”
  • “We want to look at the horse in a dynamic exam. We usually look at it on the lead line and on a lunge line, or trotting in a circle on hard and soft surfaces, and then also under saddle as well. I like to see all of my horses go under saddle because we can observe the interaction of horse and rider, which is very important. During this stage we will perform flexion tests and ask the horse to perform specific movements depending on the discipline.”
  • Blood tests are often taken and normally will include CBC, Chemistry, Coggins test and a drug screen. Depending of the age or type of horse other tests may be performed.
  • “Finally, there are some auxiliary tests, which may include radiographs, ultrasound exams, and endoscopy of the upper airways. These days, if there are certain issues, we will also include further diagnostic tests such as MRIs or bone scans. That depends on what is found in other parts of the exam. If there is something suspicious on a radiograph, the buyer might want to do more advanced imaging. Or sometimes, depending on the value of the horse, they might want to do that anyway.”

Dr. Wheeler pointed out that it is not the intention of a pre-purchase exam to recommend the horse for purchase or for sale. The exam is performed to provide information about the level of risk and educate the client of that risk. The client will make the decision on whether they want to buy the horse or not based on the information the veterinarian has provided as well as information from their trainer.

“What might be acceptable for you may not be for me, or vice versa, depending on what I want the horse for or the value of the horse,” Dr. Wheeler noted. “It is not a pass/fail situation. We are just describing the horse, doing our best to state whether the issues that it has can be maintained or can be useful for the horse’s given profession, and what is expected of it, and this is where experience is so important. If the horse is being purchased as a low level children’s show horse, the stresses on it are going to be less than if it is being asked to go to the Olympics.”

Every exam is different, but the basic steps of evaluating a horse for any discipline or level of competition are fairly standard. It is important to have a veterinarian who is experienced and knowledgeable with the specific discipline to provide accurate guidance on the horse’s condition for the expected job. For the clientele of Palm Beach Equine Clinic, the veterinarians are all well schooled in the different disciplines, and many have additional expertise in specific areas.

The world-renowned veterinarians of PBEC will be sharing their expertise on equine pre-purchase exams in a four-part series featured exclusively on ProEquest from February through April 2016. Located in the heart of Wellington, FL, PBEC serves multi-discipline clientele at equestrian competitions throughout North America and abroad. To schedule a pre-purchase exam with one of PBEC’s top veterinarians, call 561-793-1599 or visit to find out more.
About Dr. Richard Wheeler

Dr. Wheeler graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in London in 2002. He spent his first two years of practice as an intern at Greenwood, Ellis and Partners in Newmarket, England, where he worked in a referral center specializing in the treatment of Thoroughbred racehorses and Sport Horses. Dr. Wheeler moved to Palm Beach Equine Clinic in 2005 and became a partner in 2009. Dr. Wheeler’s clients include Jumpers, Dressage and Polo and he is licensed to practice in FL, KY, NC and NY and also the UK and Europe.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic provides experience, knowledge, availability, and the very best care for the horses of Wellington. Have them be a part of your team! 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!