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Month: March 2019

Winter in Wellington: Get to Know Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s Dr. Selina Passante-Watt

Dr. Selina Passante-Watt traded in the cold winters of Canada for the sunny shores of South Florida and joined the practice at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in the fall of 2013. A veterinarian at just 32 years of age, Dr. Passante-Watt enjoys the team-oriented aspect and vast resources that working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic offers. She now splits her time between winters working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic and running a mobile practice with her husband in Western Canada during the summers.

Get to Know Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s Dr. Selina Passante-Watt

“There are a lot of specialists and very intelligent people at that practice, so the continual learning is incredibly valuable, especially as a young vet,” she acknowledged. “I learn every day. It is an amazing experience to be able to walk down the hall and knock on the door of one of the best board-certified surgeons or other specialist and say, ‘Hey, can you help me with this?’ You do not realize how beneficial that is until you leave, and you are in the middle of Western Canada and you wish that you had that.”

Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Dr. Passante-Watt graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, SK, in June 2012. After graduation, she moved west to Calgary, Alberta, and completed an internship in equine medicine and surgery at Moore Equine Veterinary Centre. She and her husband, who is also an equine veterinarian, relocated to South Florida in July of 2013 in order to pursue their equine veterinary careers.

Dr. Passante-Watt started riding when she was 10 years old and was a typical horse-crazy child. She took western riding lessons for a few years before falling in love with polo. When she was in high school, she got a job grooming and exercising polo horses in Winnipeg, which continued for six summers.

After high school, Dr. Passante-Watt was unsure what career path she wanted to take, so she embarked on a backpacking trip in Australia. She picked up small jobs while traveling, one being picking mangos. While on that mango farm, she found a small dog that was wounded from a fight with another dog. Dr. Passante-Watt took the dog, fixed his wounds, and nursed him back to health. It was that experience that inspired her to apply to veterinary school.

While attending vet school in Saskatoon, Dr. Passante-Watt met her husband, Dr. Walker Watt, and the pair got married in October of 2013. During his fourth year of vet school, Dr. Watt attended a conference and met some veterinarians from Teigland, Franklin, and Brokken, a racetrack practice at Gulfstream Park in Florida. He went to visit and did an externship there, later receiving a job offer. Dr. Watt and Dr. Passante-Watt then made the decision to move to Florida, where Dr. Watt took the racetrack job, and Dr. Passante-Watt found a position at Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

“Palm Beach Equine Clinic is a great practice,” Dr. Passante-Watt stated. “I have been working with Dr. Jorge Gomez, who works mainly on sport horses and more specifically on show jumpers, so it has been great getting involved in that world and receiving mentorship from Dr. Gomez. There is a lot of sport horse medicine that we do not see back home in Canada. It is a different world in Wellington; everything is a step ahead.”

The first year Dr. Passante-Watt and her husband moved to Florida, they stayed and worked for the full year. They then decided to split their time between the U.S. and Canada, just traveling to Florida for the winter season. They opened their own mobile practice in Western Canada, which Dr. Watt now runs year-round while his wife soaks up everything she can learn in Wellington throughout the winter.

“There is a lack of equine veterinarians in Southern Alberta where we live,” Dr. Passante-Watt explained. “There are a lot of mixed animal practitioners, but not a lot of specific equine practitioners, let alone in performance horses. That is why we decided to open a practice and just work on horses, and it has been going really well so far.”

Dr. Passante-Watt enjoys being able to draw on the resources of Palm Beach Equine Clinic even when she’s in Canada for the summer. “You can easily email people, send images, and pick up the phone and call someone with questions,” Dr. Passante-Watt stated. “I find everyone at Palm Beach Equine Clinic to be very helpful. As a vet early in my career, I think it is a great thing to work in a practice like that because it definitely pushes you to learn and be your best because you are working with the best.”

Having a state-of-the-art facility and equipment at Palm Beach Equine Clinic at her disposal throughout the winter is also a huge advantage.

“It is an amazing difference,” Dr. Passante-Watt noted. “I see both sides of it, because I am in Canada in the summer in my own small mobile practice with no bells and whistles, and then I come down to Palm Beach Equine Clinic and you have everything you could want at your fingertips. Every sort of pharmaceutical need, every tool, every cutting-edge technology, they just have it all right here. For the hospital, there are technicians and interns to monitor your cases overnight, and the 24-hour Intensive Care Unit is state-of-the-art. It is definitely set up to be successful, and with so many veterinarians, everyone is great about helping one another.”

Dr. Passante-Watt has many different veterinary interests, including diagnostic imaging, ophthalmology, lameness, dentistry and internal medicine. She really enjoys general practice, specializing in a little bit of everything. She is also certified in acupuncture and equine chiropractic from Options for Animals Chiropractic School.

As far as future goals, Dr. Passante-Watt plans to take it year by year, continuing to come to Palm Beach Equine Clinic in the winters, continuing to learn, and being the best veterinarian that she can be.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Helps Keep Horses of Vinceremos in Top Form

Feature in the March 2019 issue of Wellington The Magazine


The horses at the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center perform miracles every day. Whether by carrying a person coping with a physical disability to a sense of independence, providing comfort to a soul suffering from emotional trauma or teaching a child beyond the confines of a classroom, the Vinceremos horses are heroes. But they aren’t the only ones wearing capes. A local group of dedicated and passionate equine veterinarians share in the magic.

The veterinarians of the Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC), based in the heart of Wellington, have been caring for horses in South Florida for decades. Founded by Dr. Paul Wollenman in 1981, PBEC has grown to include a staff of 40 veterinarians, with five boarded specialists and the most state-of-the-art facility in the country. Situated in the winter equestrian capital of the world, Palm Beach Equine Clinic treats the top-performing show jumping, dressage, polo and racing athletes throughout the year.

Official Veterinarians of Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center

Dr. Janet Greenfield Davis Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center
Dr. Janet Greenfield-Davis is one of the primary treating veterinarians for Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center.

In addition, the clinic is a saving grace for the horses of Vinceremos. The 23 specially selected horses stay true to the nonprofit’s mission of conquering disability and hardship in people of all ages. Founded in 1982, Vinceremos, based in Loxahatchee Groves, serves people from all stations in life with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities through the power of equine therapy. The treatments they offer include therapeutic riding and carriage driving, hippotherapy, equine-assisted learning and equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic does its part by keeping the horses healthy and happy with pro-bono veterinary care.

“We have the people and, most importantly, the horses, of South Florida to thank for the success that PBEC has enjoyed over the years,” said Palm Beach Equine Clinic President Dr. Scott Swerdlin, who spearheaded the clinic’s involvement with Vinceremos in 2011. “It is our honor to give back to that community through our work with Vinceremos. The whole team is dedicated to each and every horse we treat, as well as to the riders who love them.”

Healing Together

While their commitment to the nonprofit is extensive, it’s not about the hours spent or the cost of time and supplies. Swerdlin and his team focus on a bigger goal; healing horses so they can heal people. “There’s no greater reward than seeing how the horses of Vinceremos benefit their riders,” he said. “You see the riders light up and how excited they are to be on those horses.”

Swerdlin is proud of the clinic’s work with Vinceremos. “I continually remind my team that it is a privilege to treat the caliber of horses we have in Wellington and that should compel us to give back to the community,” he said. “The response from Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians has been overwhelming. The entire team has volunteered to be involved.”

From routine treatments and services, such as vaccinations and health exams, to emergency care, Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians are available to Vinceremos night and day. Last summer, such emergency care was called on, and one Vinceremos horse got a second chance at life thanks to a group of devoted veterinarians.

Clark Kent

Vinceremos favorite Clark Kent — a sturdy black mount with an eye as kind as they come — suffered an injury to his right front leg. The laceration extended into his tendon sheath, which is a layer of membrane around a tendon on the back of the lower leg. What could have been a simple cut on the surface was much more serious.

Initially treated on-site at Vinceremos by Dr. Marilyn Connor, Clark Kent was then transported to PBEC for surgery to repair the injury. The case turned into a team effort and involved the work of surgeons Dr. Weston Davis and Dr. Michael Myhre, as well as Dr. Janet Greenfield.

After surgery and a recovery period at PBEC’s onsite equine hospital, Clark Kent returned to Vinceremos to recover. He was back to his therapy work by fall, giving riders a sense of independence and confidence with his skills on the lunge line and his forward way of moving.

Clark Kent Vinceremos Palm Beach Equine Clinic Veterinarians

“This treatment was no easy feat, but the veterinarians and staff of Palm Beach Equine Clinic took a tragedy and turned it into a miracle. Clark Kent was surrounded by extraordinary veterinarians and technicians throughout his care,” Vinceremos Director of Development Susan Guinan said. “The diligence of this team makes miracles happen every day. We are so appreciative of Palm Beach Equine Clinic and their team of veterinarians. They give so much support to Vinceremos and the horses here. They keep them in top shape so we can impact our community in such a special way through equine therapy.”

Rewarding for Horses and Humans

For Connor, it’s cases like Clark Kent’s that convinced her to pursue veterinary medicine. Growing up around horses, she spent time volunteering with a therapeutic riding program before attending veterinary school at Texas A&M.

“It was a very rewarding experience to be able to give back to a cause that is important to me. And even more so now that I can do that in a different capacity as a veterinarian,” said Connor.

She can often be found checking on the horses of Vinceremos while on the job. “Being able to help horses as special as the ones at Vinceremos and the people who love them is what ultimately made me realize I wanted to be an equine veterinarian,” Connor said.

To find out more about the Palm Beach Equine Clinic, call (561) 793-1599.

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