Read more about Dr. Caitlin Hosea by clicking here.
Where are you from originally, and where did you complete your undergraduate degree?
Dr. Hosea: I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. I received my bachelor’s in animal science at the University of Kentucky with an emphasis on equine studies.
What is your background with horses?
Dr. Hosea: I started riding at a very young age. Through junior high and high school, I was a working student at a hunter/jumper barn. I groomed and taught summer camps to pay for my lessons and shows. During undergrad, I worked as a groom and rider for a few different barns in Lexington and continued to show my horse. I have a new horse now – one of my favorites from the racetrack that was given to me. He’s shown some talent over fences. Hopefully you’ll see us in the jumper ring soon!
What inspired you to become an equine veterinarian?
Dr. Hosea: My interest in veterinary medicine developed after moving to Kentucky. My goal had always been to ride professionally. That all changed when I got a job as a veterinary technician. I spent four years working at a large equine hospital. I also had a second job as a technician for a racetrack veterinarian. During that time, I gained a wealth of knowledge and exposure to a wide variety of interesting cases and eventually decided that I wanted to go to vet school.
What do you enjoy most about working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic?
Dr. Hosea: I love the variety of cases we treat in the hospital and the opportunities to learn from our large team of talented veterinarians. I always enjoy spending time at WEF as well. I feel very lucky to be able to watch some of the best riders and horses in the world compete at one of the best venues in the country. As a junior, I idolized riders such as Beezie Madden, Margie Engle, and Eric Lamaze to name a few. While onsite at WEF, I am able to watch those riders (as well as a long list of other talented equestrians) compete at the highest levels in person. It’s like having floor seats at a Lakers game.
What aspects of equine medicine interest you most, and what types of cases do you find most rewarding?
Dr. Hosea: Sport horse lameness, podiatry, equine neonatal medicine, and diagnostic imaging, especially ultrasound. Complicated lameness cases are what I really enjoy. After my internship at PBEC, I spent five years working at Keeneland as a racetrack veterinarian. During that time, I was fortunate enough to work with some remarkable horsemen and truly amazing horses. For me, being part of a team that works together to advance a horse’s athletic career is incredibly rewarding.
What experience do you have with equine podiatry?
Dr. Hosea: I’ve always had a strong interest in podiatry. Between my second and third year of veterinary school, I spent eight weeks completing a farrier certification program at Oklahoma State Horse Shoeing School in Ardmore, Oklahoma. During this time, I was shoeing horses every day as well as building hand-made horseshoes in a fire from plain bar stock. By the time I finished, I could shoe a horse all the way around; build, shape, and fit steel shoes; draw clips; and weld bar shoes.
While the traditional breeding process needs no explanation, there are multiple avenues available when it comes to producing a foal. It is important to understand your horse’s reproductive options before starting the breeding process, such as the different conception rates between fresh-cooled and frozen semen or how to guarantee a live foal out of your breeding contract. Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarian Dr. Katie Atwood previously guided us through what to expect regarding the mare’s side of this equation, and below she explains several considerations for the stallion’s side.
Start with the Future Foal’s Purpose
When selecting a stallion for semen purchase, the first step is to assess what will be the foal’s purpose and projected goals. Many mare owners will recognize certain weaknesses in their horse and choose a stallion that could compensate for those shortcomings to create the ideal foal. For example, if the mare doesn’t have the scope they would like to have in the foal, an owner might choose a particularly scopey* stallion. Chances are in favor of two talented horses creating a talented foal. However, Dr. Atwood stresses that it is impossible to guarantee that a certain mare and stallion combination will produce the desired result.
“In breeding thoroughbred racehorses, we see a lot of examples of this,” explains Dr. Atwood. “Some owners will repetitively breed a racing stallion but none of his foals will accomplish anything close in comparison to his accolades. You can’t always predict what will come out of the breeding match.”
Still, Dr. Atwood makes a point of impressing upon her clients the importance of first knowing what they want for the foal’s future. Then, consider the health, genetic makeup, and bloodlines of the parents-to-be.
“There are a few genetic diseases that are little known and currently being more researched, such as Warmblood Fragile Foal Syndrome and Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis. Testing for these diseases is becoming more common. There are also hereditary traits such as cryptorchidism or conformational issues which are genetically predisposed. Conformational traits can be a factor, so it’s important to take these into consideration when choosing the stallion,” says Dr. Atwood.
Minimizing Risk Through a Breeding Contract
“It is important to have a solid breeding contract in place,” Dr. Atwood recommends. “A detailed agreement gives the owner of the mare specific guidelines as to what they are entitled to receive.”
Every breeding contract is slightly different, so you need to read yours carefully and ask questions. The breeding contract should outline the fees, rebreeding rights, the method of breeding, and the number of doses of semen. Some contracts include a live foal guarantee, which means that you will receive doses of semen until your mare produces a foal that stands and nurses.
Depending on the stallion and his semen availability, you may have a certain number of breedings, or rounds of semen shipments, per breeding season outlined in the contract. The contract, however, can be amended and Dr. Atwood finds this is a common practice because of the unforeseen possibilities that accompany reproduction.
“It can be extremely variable, but many stallion owners, depending on the demand for that stallion and his availability, are flexible,” she notes. “So, if you have an issue with breeding your mare, it’s worthwhile to ask the stallion’s owner to amend the contract. For example, if it is late in the breeding season and the mare’s owner chooses not to continue breeding that season but would like to try the next season, a lot of times the stallion’s owner will agree to extend the contract to the following year for a fee.”
The Stallion’s Breeding Options
You can breed your horse through live cover, artificial insemination with fresh semen, fresh-cooled semen, or frozen semen. The success of any breeding method resulting in a pregnancy is extremely dependent on the mare and stallion and their management. The mare’s age, her prior number of pregnancies, and reproductive health are crucial, as well as the stallion’s fertility, the number of mares he is booked to, and the handling and processing of his semen. Artificial insemination with fresh-cooled or frozen semen is now the norm in sport horse breeding as there are fewer risks and logistical challenges.
“The beauty of frozen semen is that it lasts forever,” Dr. Atwood says. “Once frozen and appropriately maintained, it is, in theory, good forever. The interesting part is that this can help diversify bloodlines. Sport horses have evolved a lot over the last several decades, and the traits we look for in a horse have evolved as well. There are qualities that we may have overlooked in certain breeds or disciplines because of trends or preferences at that time. With frozen semen, you can go back to a stallion frozen years ago who may be a great option for your mare.”
Not all stallions’ semen can be frozen successfully as some are unable to thaw and still produce a pregnancy. Another option Dr. Atwood recommends is fresh cooled semen, which is often a good choice when breeding an older mare.
“I’ve had instances with mares that couldn’t get pregnant with the owner’s first choice in frozen semen. In that case, I do recommend going with a different stallion or fresh-cooled if available. Fresh-cooled semen is a great option because the sperm is healthier in theory; they are younger, and their motility is usually better.”
What’s Involved in Breeding with Fresh or Frozen Semen
Many veterinarians process, freeze, and package their breeding doses differently, but with the same goal of providing enough to ensure a pregnancy. Industry experts recommend one billion progressively motile sperm per breeding dose. Realistically, half of the sperm will be dead upon arrival and the resulting 500 million progressively motile sperm is found to be an appropriate amount.
“A lot of people say, ‘you only need one sperm’ to which the answer is yes, in theory, you only need one sperm, but you still need the rest of them to push that one sperm along,” explained Dr. Atwood. “You can’t just put a single sperm in a uterus and expect to get a foal. It just doesn’t work that way because you need a higher volume to build momentum and get that one sperm where it needs to go to form an embryo.”
With fresh-cooled semen, Dr. Atwood checks the mare to see if she is ready to be bred and if so, she schedules the stallion to be collected the next day. With the collection, she utilizes a Computer Assisted Sperm Analyzer (CASA) to assess certain parameters of the stallion’s fertility and then uses a cooling extender agent to preserve the quality of the sperm. The mare can be bred and then checked 24 hours later.
If freezing the semen, Dr. Atwood will process and analyze the sperm, also use an extending agent, and then a cryoprotectant to prevent damage to the sperm during the freeze. She packages the sperm into four to eight half-millimeter straws per breeding dose. Then the semen is placed on a rack and cooled in a temperature-adjustable fridge to prevent damage or sudden shock before freezing. The straws can then be placed into a vapor box for about 20 minutes before being submerged in a liquid nitrogen tank and stored indefinitely. When using frozen semen, once the mare is close to ovulating, she is given an ovulatory agent to help the process begin within 36-48 hours.
If you’re considering breeding your horse, having a knowledgeable veterinary partner on your team will help streamline the breeding process. They will be able to address any questions or concerns about your individual mare and stallion combination, and maximize your chances of producing a healthy foal. Speak with a veterinarian about your horse’s breeding options by calling Palm Beach Equine Clinic at 561-793-1599 or visit www.equineclinic.com/reproduction-and-fertility.
*A horse that jumps with little effort and great power is thought to have scope and considered to be scopey.
In order for top-level performance horses to compete at their best, they must have full range of motion throughout their bodies as well as the ability to move freely. When a horse is out of alignment, a joint, whether it is in the spine or elsewhere in the body, is restricted in its normal range of motion. Veterinary medical manipulation, or what is known as a chiropractic adjustment in humans, is a form of alternative medicine that aims to solve this issue. The goal of any adjustment is to restore the optimal range of motion to that joint, which will subsequently alleviate inflammation in and pressure on surrounding nerves and soft tissue.
Dolton, a nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Karin Flint, is a well-known name in the para-dressage world. The gelding won two individual gold medals with Roxanne Trunnell at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Dolton was special from a young age and won his first bronze medal when he was only six years old at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. The pair is trained by Andrea Woodard, who often rides Dolton herself and stays very involved in all aspects of his care. Woodard and Dr. Natalia Novoa of Palm Beach Equine Clinic, who have worked together to treat Woodard’s own horses, thought Dolton could benefit from medical manipulation.
“What I found with Dolton was very common with any dressage horse,” noted Dr. Novoa. “When working with Dolton I make sure that he is correctly aligned. I also address any pinched nerves, tight muscles, tight myofascial, and anything else that could create pain. I saw that the adjustments and the myofascial release were very beneficial for him.”
When a horse is out of alignment, it may result in their gait appearing different than usual, even at a walk. If one area of the body is not functioning properly, horses have to compensate, which can result in many common sport horse injuries. Medical manipulation aims to fix this issue by applying varying amounts of pressure to specific segments of the horse’s body, mainly focusing on the spine. This form of manual therapy, performed by a certified practitioner, often targets joint issues and muscular development. Additionally, medical manipulation can help in stimulating nerve reflexes and reducing pain.
“I like that I can tell Dr. Novoa what I’m feeling, and she tells me what she feels,” described Woodard. “We trust each other’s judgment, which helps in pinpointing where the issue is in the horse. Sometimes it’s something in Dolton’s body that’s not sitting how it’s supposed to. If something is out of position and Dolton is not moving how he is supposed to, other parts of his body can get sore.”
If done routinely, medical manipulation can benefit a horse’s natural balance, topline, and overall performance while also aiding in pain and soreness relief. Once Dr. Novoa began working with Dolton on a regular basis, it became easier for her to not only focus on the areas he needed help with the most, but also to fix them.
“The more I continued working with him the better he performed,” commented Dr. Novoa. “We were able to identify the misalignments and any patterns so that we could more easily correct them. He was progressively more comfortable with treatments as we continued with a regular program in place because he knew what to expect. He is a very sensitive horse. I know his areas of strength and weakness, so we developed a system that works for him, and we continue to have great results.”
Being certain that Dolton’s body is functioning properly is extremely important in para-dressage. Flint makes sure that both Woodard and Dr. Novoa are integral in his care so that Trunnell and Dolton can be confident stepping into the ring.
“With para-dressage you never know what you’re going to get that day with your body,” described Flint. “This means that it is really important to know what horse you’re getting. That’s why chiropractic work, all their care, and overall health is so important.
“The reason we like Dr. Novoa is that she’s very knowledgeable about the physics and mechanisms of the horse,” continued Flint. “Someone who isn’t familiar with this can do more damage, which is true with humans too. Someone who doesn’t listen to signals can end up putting the horse in more pain. She is very, very good at what she does.”
Sport horses are able to perform at their best when they are comfortable and have proper range of motion throughout their body. It is helpful to have horses examined by a certified veterinary medical manipulation practitioner to check that their body is moving properly and to decrease the chance of an injury due to compensation. Call Palm Beach Equine Clinic today at 561-793-1599 to set up an appointment.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic Provides Veterinary Students Opportunities to Further Education and Career
The path of veterinary medicine involves many years of devotion to education, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, prior to putting that knowledge into practice. Only a handful of those students choose to pursue equine medicine, and an even smaller subset then take on the challenge of becoming a board-certified specialist in their chosen field.
Since its inception 40 years ago, Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) has been committed to supporting the next generation of equine veterinarians and has provided numerous students, at various stages in their education, with learning opportunities and mentorship. Through externship, internship, and residency programs, PBEC has helped prepare students and veterinary graduates to lay the groundwork for successful future careers.
Equine Medicine in the Equestrian Capital
One of the key benefits of the programs is that PBEC is based in Wellington, Florida, an area that has rightfully earned its title of “Winter Equestrian Capital of the World.” The region is home to show jumping, dressage, polo, racing, and western performance horses; allowing ample opportunities for veterinarians to become well-rounded sports medicine practitioners.
“We are one of the foremost equine medical centers in North America and based in the epicenter of the equine industry,” said Dr. Scott Swerdlin, the president of PBEC who also spearheads the clinic’s Internship Committee. “The opportunities we are able to offer students looking to pursue a career in sports medicine are unmatched. In this regard, we are fortunate to attract top talent from some of the most prestigious universities around the world. Our interns get to be part of all the action and learn in an environment where every aspect of the horse’s health is examined with a fine-tooth comb.”
A Melting Pot of Expertise
PBEC’s team encompasses over 35 veterinarians who hail from across the U.S. and abroad to Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Australia, the U.K., and beyond. Their areas of expertise are wide-ranging, from lameness to acupuncture and breeding to dentistry, including board-certified specialists in surgery, diagnostic imaging, and internal medicine.
Dr. Sidney Chanutin grew up immersed in the horse world and spent time shadowing nearly every veterinarian at PBEC while she was in high school. After earning her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Florida, she returned to officially join the PBEC team as an intern.
“What I most enjoyed about my internship was learning from a diverse group of veterinarians,” said Dr. Chanutin, “along with their different backgrounds, styles of working, and varied approaches to problem-solving. Everyone is willing to help and offer their unique perspective, so it’s a truly cohesive team.”
The first introduction to PBEC for many students is an externship. Qualified veterinary students in their final years of school can spend a few weeks with the PBEC team shadowing emergency cases in the hospital, on ambulatory calls, and at sports medicine appointments at the industry’s top competition venues. Externships also act as an introduction to the practice for many students seeking an internship upon graduation. This allows both the aspiring veterinarian and the PBEC team to become familiar with each other and see if it may potentially be a good match for a 12-month internship position.
Dr. Santiago Demierre is originally from Argentina and completed his degree in veterinary medicine from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 2012. He validated his veterinary degree in the United States in 2017 through a certification program with the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Demierre was an integral part of PBEC initially as an intern before becoming an official staff veterinarian.
“The high caseload and long-term partnerships working and learning alongside great veterinarians helped me not only in improving my professional skills and knowledge but also with other aspects such as communication with clients and colleagues,” Dr. Demierre reflected.
Unlike in human medicine, internships are optional for veterinarians. Once a veterinarian passes the necessary state board exams, they can start treating animals on day one out of school. Choosing to work under the supervision and mentorship of experienced veterinarians allows interns to apply their years of learning in the classroom into clinical practice. At PBEC, interns can learn with the aid of advanced technologies in diagnostic imaging, innovative regenerative therapies, reproduction and fertility software, and specialized surgical suites.
“While we can teach and provide them with a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience,” Dr. Swerdlin explained, “our interns in return are extremely valuable to us because they bring a fresh mindset and new ideas to the team,” explained Dr. Swerdlin. “The ability to work well with others, a good sense of humor, great work ethic, and most importantly, excellent communication skills are the qualities I look for in an intern.”
Never Stop Learning
Continuing education is a major component of a life in medicine. In addition to journal clubs, educational seminars, and opportunities to travel to professional conferences, students are always exposed to learning opportunities by working collaboratively with colleagues as well as visiting and referring veterinarians.
After completing their internship, most will pursue an associate veterinarian position, whether at PBEC, another private practice, a university, or work independently. Some will go a step further and advance their education through a residency program. Residencies are rigorous two to four year commitments—length dependent on the specialty—designed to give veterinarians the skillset, knowledge base, and experience required to become eligible for certification by veterinary medical specialty boards. Board-certified specialists are considered experts in their field and often treat complicated, difficult cases.
With board-certified specialists on staff, PBEC has provided residencies to select veterinarians over the years, including Dr. Michael Myhre. A graduate of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Myhre fulfilled his surgical residency under the direction of PBEC’s board-certified surgeons Dr. Robert Brusie, Dr. Weston Davis, and Dr. Jorge Gomez. He assisted on over 568 surgeries over his three years at PBEC.
“Completing my residency at PBEC has allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming an equine surgeon and working at a large referral center in the northeast. I learned a great deal about all aspects of general surgery, but especially orthopedic surgery. We did many fracture repairs at PBEC, and I would love to continue focusing on these in the future. Without my time at PBEC, I wouldn’t be able to practice as I am now,” Dr. Myhre said.
Externs, interns, and residents are integral members of the equine hospital. It is part of PBEC’s mission to support the community, which includes the next generation of equine veterinarians.
Dr. Swerdlin said, “Teaching and mentoring young veterinarians and watching them grow into confident and competent practitioners gives me the greatest satisfaction.” To learn more about externships, internships, and other opportunities with Palm Beach Equine Clinic, please visit equineclinic.com/internships-externships or call 561-793-1599.
A new life is something to celebrate, but when a newborn foal has complications and a fever of unknown origin, the fear can be overwhelming. For Robin Hogan of Myrland Stables in Davie, Florida, getting her newborn foal the help it unexpectedly needed was the first priority.
Hogan fell in love with her mare Vogue, a black and white Gypsy Vanner, when it came to her barn for training. The two connected instantly. There was only one caveat; Vogue was pregnant. Still, Hogan welcomed the added bonus and was excited for the chance to raise a foal that could eventually join Vogue in the equine therapy program that she is planning.
Vogue had a somewhat difficult birthing, but eventually “My Wildest Dream,” known in the barn as Eros, was born. Everything seemed good as Hogan navigated the early days of caring for Eros and his mother after birth, but at only four days old, Hogan noticed that Eros’ playful, spirited attitude had changed.
“He was a little bit on the lethargic side,” remembered Hogan. “I walked Eros and his mom out to the pasture, and he seemed to decline when he was there, like it must have taken all his energy to get to the pasture. It was surprising because just the day before he was running around, and even the night before he was running and playing. It just happened that quick. It was crazy. I noticed he was peeing out of his umbilicus (navel) which was a big red flag.”
Hogan was able to move Eros back to the barn and found that he had an extremely high temperature. Hogan called her veterinarian, Dr. Natalie Carrillo, and they were able to bring the foal’s temperature down slightly. However, when it spiked again, he was administered intravenous fluids and the decision was made to take Eros to Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) in Wellington, Florida.
Hogan noted, “PBEC had come highly recommended, and I thought, ‘If you’ve got a chance to save him, this is it.’”
Eros was admitted to Palm Beach Equine Clinic and placed under the care of board-certified internist Dr. Peter Heidmann and Dr. Sidney Chanutin. Upon examination and palpation of the foal’s umbilicus, they noted urine dripping out.
During fetal development, the umbilicus is connected to the urinary bladder via a tube called the urachus. Normally, within a few hours after birth, the urachus will shrink and close at the navel, and then urine is diverted to empty through the urethra into the bladder. When the urachus does not close completely, urine can dribble out from the umbilicus. This condition is referred to as patent urachus, and it may happen within the first few weeks of life, even after the urachus originally appeared to have sealed at birth.
Eros was diagnosed with patent urachus, along with omphalitis (infection of the umbilical stump) and septicemia (bacteria present in the blood), which are severe complications commonly seen in foals.
Dr. Chanutin performed an ultrasound examination on Eros, which confirmed the patent urachus and helped determine the presence and extent of infection in the umbilical structures. Blood cultures and a complete blood count were taken, as well as bacterial cultures of the navel to determine which bacteria were causing the infection. This helped the veterinarians confirm the appropriate antibiotic choice for the foal.
In some cases, surgical removal of the infected navel structures is needed. Surgery can fully close the opening between the urachus and the bladder, but thanks to a quick and thorough veterinary diagnosis, Eros avoided surgery.
Eros recovered at Palm Beach Equine Clinic for two weeks with his mother Vogue by his side. He was treated with systemic antibiotic therapy, anti-inflammatory therapy, and gastroprotectants (Omeprazole). His umbilicus was treated topically to promote closure of the patent urachus.
After discharge, Eros remained on medication for an additional four weeks. His owner reported that once he returned home, he soon returned to his normal, happy self. Hogan remarked, “I was going through all these emotions having never had a colt before, and then he puts his little head on my shoulder, and I thought well we’re going to give you all the care we can! It was such a scary learning experience for a new horse owner. It was a steep learning curve.”
Hogan credited her barn manager, Alicia May, for helping care for Eros, as well as Dr. Carrillo and the veterinarians of Palm Beach Equine Clinic. “I have such confidence now in my veterinary care team. I have to say it’s all a team effort,” she said. “I had no doubt that my horses were in the right place for this kind of situation.”
Having fully recovered, Eros is now seven months old, and Hogan is training him regularly, getting him used to working with humans and becoming less sensitive to his environment in preparation for his future equine therapy work with his mother Vogue.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic is available 24/7 for any equine emergency and works regularly with referring veterinarians. For more information, call 561-793-1599.
Dr. Jorge Gomez and Dr. Christopher Elliott were amongst the over 100 veterinarians on the ground supporting the equine athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Jorge Gomez, MVZ, MS, DACVS, served as the Official Veterinarian for the Mexican Show Jumping Team and is a surgeon with Palm Beach Equine Clinic, and Chris Elliott, BVSC, MRCVS, MANZCVS, DACVSMR, served as Veterinary Services Supervisor and is an associate veterinarian for Palm Beach Equine Clinic. We spoke with each of them about their experiences at this unprecedented international event.
What were your expectations for Tokyo, and did the Games live up to those expectations?
CE: Tokyo 2020 reached far beyond my expectations. The ability to achieve such an elite level of equestrian competition in the face of COVID-19 restrictions is remarkable. The whole Olympic organizing committee should be proud of this achievement.
JG: We all knew of the existing restrictions in place for COVID-19. There were mobility limitations in place to decrease the chances of spreading the virus, however, the Games were very well organized. The competition and training arenas were state-of-the-art facilities, and the stables were all under air conditioning, so those amenities couldn’t have been better.
What did you enjoy most about your time at the Olympics?
CE: Having a front row seat to the Olympic Games has been an honor and a privilege. I have most enjoyed working alongside my veterinary colleagues from across the globe. The Games spirit was strong among all the vets at Tokyo 2020.
JG: Most definitely the level of competition. We had the opportunity to watch the best athletes in all three disciplines dressage, eventing and show jumping.
What was the experience like of working with such a diverse group of veterinarians?
CE: It’s always great working alongside veterinarians from all over the world. Veterinary medicine transcends language and cultural barriers and bonds us all in the goal of preserving equine health and welfare. In the face of many extreme challenges surrounding these Olympic Games, the professionalism, dedication, and efficiency of all vets at the event rose to the fore to ensure the very best in equine health, welfare, and performance.
JG: The experience is always nice and an honor to be a part of. There’s a group of us that have been at many of the international competitions and Olympic Games for years. Then, there are also new faces, and this is a wonderful opportunity for us all to meet. We share difficult cases from our practices as well as talk about new techniques and treatments.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic extends congratulations to all of the athletes that represented their respective countries at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. While challenges were abundant, the events were awe-inspiring and the best of equestrian sport was on display.
PBEC also extends a special congratulations to our friends Dr. Mike Heitmann and Alice Womble, the owners of Sanceo, ridden by Sabine Schut-Kery. Sanceo was a part of the U.S. dressage team that won silver and had two personal best scores at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Check out the August 2021 issue of POLO Players Edition and flip to the Equine Athlete section to read about anhidrosis. Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians describe what a diagnosis of non-sweating entails for the sport horse, signs/symptoms, and best management practices to keep anhidrotic horses comfortable. Read about anhidrosis in horses by clicking here or on the image below.
The old adage “no foot, no horse” is undeniably one of the truest statements when it comes to the horse. Many intricate structures compose this foundation, and the overall health of the hoof is paramount. So, what happens when a portion of your horse’s hoof is suddenly missing?
Owners Josh and Laura Gross found themselves in this predicament when their barn’s owner, Ayriel Italia, called them to say that their daughter’s Welsh pony had cut herself and needed immediate medical attention. While in the paddock, Blue Melody – known as Melody – had gotten her left hind hoof underneath the gate and suffered a serious laceration.
“We were initially frantic without more information,” recalled Josh. “We consider Melody a family member, and her rider is an eight-year-old.” The self-professed novice horse-owner parents had been learning the ropes of equine health and care through supporting their young daughter Saylor’s passion for horses. They turned to the expertise and guidance of Italia and trainer Shanna Sachenbacher, who immediately called veterinarian Dr. Kathleen Timmins of Palm Beach Equine Clinic.
Upon arriving at the barn, Dr. Timmins saw that Melody had an approximately two-inch-wide section of her hoof missing.
“A full thickness portion of the lateral hoof wall and the coronet band had been completely excised,” described Dr. Timmins. “It was a deep wound that exposed the sensitive laminae of the hoof. Thankfully, a thin section of the weight-bearing portion of the hoof distal to the laceration was spared, and the wound did not go deep enough to communicate with the distal interphalangeal joint or the coffin bone.”
The sensitive laminae are an interlaced network of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels beneath the hoof wall. This highly-vascular layer attaches to and protects the coffin bone. Injuries to the coffin bone or joint structures can be devastating, often with long-term effects on the horse’s soundness and on the development of the hoof. In Melody’s case, Dr. Timmins found the laceration to be “more bark than bite,” as it did not affect those critical structures. Although Melody would likely have some degree of abnormal hoof growth from the damaged coronary band, Dr. Timmins had an encouraging prognosis for the pony.
“Dr. Timmins was so responsive that by the time we arrived at the barn to fully learn what had happened, the wound was already cleaned and wrapped, and we were told that Melody would make a full recovery,” explained Josh.
After an initial assessment and treatment of the wound at their barn, Melody was brought to Palm Beach Equine Clinic so that she could be observed and receive comprehensive medical care. Intravenous antibiotics were administered, and the laceration was thoroughly cleaned and bandaged with an added frog pad to support the hoof. Melody progressed well and was able to be discharged only 48 hours later. Along with a lesson in proper cleaning and wrapping of the wound, Dr. Timmins gave Melody’s owners and caretakers antibiotic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. She also recommended a biotin supplement to aid in healthy hoof growth and advised that Melody would benefit from a few weeks of shoes with clips, which would provide lateral support to the section of the hoof wall that lost integrity.
With a full team supporting Melody’s recovery, the injury and medical care become less daunting to the Gross family. Only two weeks after the laceration, the wound showed great improvement, and Melody was able to be shod and very lightly worked. Four weeks after the injury, Melody received the green light from Dr. Timmins to resume full work with Saylor in the saddle.
“Dr. Timmins’ responsiveness and calm demeanor made all the difference. She put our minds at ease, took great care of our extended family member, and helped her get back on her feet (hooves!) more quickly than we expected.”
Injuries to horses’ legs and hooves can be unnerving. Having a veterinarian immediately assess an injury and determine if it affects any vital structures is crucial for recovery. In case of an equine medical emergency, do not hesitate to call the veterinarians of Palm Beach Equine Clinic at 561-793-1599.
Dr. Christopher Elliott, BVSC, MRCVS, MANZCVS, DACVSMR, is an associate sports medicine veterinarian with Palm Beach Equine Clinic who has served as an FEI Official Veterinarian for elite international events across disciplines. Most notably, he has worked for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio, 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, as well as numerous 3-day events including Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide in Australia, and Badminton and Burghley in the United Kingdom. Dr. Elliott has been in Tokyo since early May making preparations for the Olympics as the Veterinary Services Supervisor, and he has given us an inside look into the heat and humidity safety measures for equine athletes.
Tokyo temperatures in July and August can reach as high as 105º Fahrenheit (41º Celsius), so cooling measures are crucial to preventing overheating for all athletes, both equine and human.
Safety measures include:
Cooling tents have been made easily accessible throughout Equestrian Park. The cooling tents are well stocked with water troughs, which are monitored by a team of volunteers who use ice blocks to keep the water at 59º Fahrenheit (15º Celsius).
Misting fans in cooling tents are on for the duration of training and competition times.
Training is halted from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. which are the hottest times of the day.
This is not the first time extreme heat has caused concern for equestrian athletes at the Olympic Games, and significant research has been conducted to increase athlete safety when temperatures are high. Dr. Elliott published clinical insights regarding research studies between the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.