Dr. Ryan Lukens first connected with horses when he was growing up while mucking the 15 stalls on his family’s 30-acre farm in Lebanon, OH, just north of Cincinnati. From that beginning, he went on to study veterinary medicine at The Ohio State University and earn a Certificate of Veterinary Medical Manipulation (equine specific chiropractic) at the Chi Institute in Ocala, FL.
A full-time veterinarian at PBEC, Dr. Lukens is dedicated to furthering his experience and bolstering his skill set for the betterment of the care offered at the clinic. To that end, he is currently working on becoming ISELP (International Society of Equine Locomotor Pathology) certified. ISLEP is a non-profit educational association focused on lameness in the equine athlete. The goal of ISELP is to provide contemporary knowledge and techniques in the continually evolving field of equine locomotor analysis to better prepare the equine clinician to understand and manage lameness conditions in the equine athlete.
Lean more about Dr. Lukens, his dedication to veterinary medicine, and his passion for providing exceptional care:
As a fourth generation veterinarian, what led you to study equine veterinary medicine and what influence did your family have in regards to being a successful veterinarian?
I often joke that I didn’t have a choice and I was born to be a veterinarian. My father, my great uncle, and my great grandpa were all veterinarians. I graduated exactly 100 years after my great grandpa did from the same veterinarian school (Ohio State). My father worked exclusively on show horses in the Cincinnati area.
I started going to farms with my father before I can remember. I would help flex horses and sterile scrub joints as I got older. I also remember developing radiographs in his clinic’s darkroom. [Want to see how far veterinary medicine has come in recent years? Click HERE to see how vets view radiographs at PBEC today.]
The fascination grew as I understood how much you can help horses as a veterinarian. To this day, I still often call my father and discuss interesting cases with him.
What do you enjoy most about treating horses?
I enjoy watching horses that love to do their job. Usually when I am called to a farm, the horse has a problem that is preventing it from working at full potential. I enjoy helping those horses regain comfort and confidence as they return to the show ring.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities at PBEC?
My main responsibilities are correcting lameness and performing chiropractic adjustments. The two disciplines work together and I often employ both traditional western medicine practices and chiropractic adjustments to return horses to a symmetrical gait.
I also do a significant amount of dental work. My other responsibilities include educating my clients and keeping their horses happy. Most clients have my cell phone number and I answer questions and concerns 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I use the resources I have available to me at PBEC to get a prompt answer.
What brought you to Florida and what do you enjoy most about being a part of the PBEC team?
I met my wife Jessica in veterinary school. She was born and raised in south Florida and I was smart enough to follow her back after graduation. She is a small animal veterinarian in Hollywood, FL.
What I enjoy most about PBEC is the teamwork and camaraderie that is evident at this clinic. The people that I work with daily enjoy what they do. We have the best equipment and specialists to return a horse back to optimal health.
Do you have any stand-out cases that you have really enjoyed working on while at PBEC?
I had an older horse with a disease called EOTRH (equine odontoclastic tooth resorption and hypercementosis). It is a disease that affects the incisors (front 12 teeth) and is diagnosed by radiographs. Some symptoms include gradual onset of difficulty eating (dropping food, prolonged eating time) and ulcerations of the gingiva. This patient had increasing difficulty eating over a six-month period. Radiographs indicated the roots of 10 of the 12 incisors were severely affected. With standing sedation and local anesthesia, I removed 10 incisors during a five-hour surgery. The horse was eating better the morning after surgery than it had in six months.
What can we find you doing when you are not working?
I enjoy spending time with my wife, my one-year-old son, and our three dogs. We often end up somewhere near the beach!