The veterinarians of Palm Beach Equine Clinic have always enjoyed contributing to support the local community in Wellington, FL. As a leader in equine veterinary medicine, Palm Beach Equine Clinic makes it a priority to share knowledge and guide aspiring youth. Currently, through Wellington High School’s (WHS) Equine Pre-Vet Program, Palm Beach Equine Clinic has a hands-on program for students to introduce them to a career as promising young veterinary professionals.
The Equine Pre-Vet Program at WHS provides students with an opportunity to pursue a rigorous, accelerated science program to prepare them for veterinary medicine and/or animal sciences at the college level. Equine Pre-Vet students are required to complete 20 hours of community service in an animal-based area during each year of high school. As a senior in high school, students are also required to intern with an animal healthcare facility, complete research assignments on veterinary medicine, and prepare veterinary case studies.
WHS seniors who choose to pursue the Equine Pre-Vet Program have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips with one of the world’s most advanced equine medical centers just down the road. Palm Beach Equine Clinic is home to more than 30 world-class veterinarians who all know the process of becoming a top veterinarian within the industry.
Through the program at WHS and the generosity of the veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic, students in the Equine Pre-Vet Program have the unique opportunity to learn all about the profession from the very best. Seniors in the program are given the chance to shadow veterinarians as they work at the clinic, as well as out on ambulatory calls at the farms. The program requires that each student obtain a certain number of externship hours, but Palm Beach Equine Clinic allows the students to help and observe for as many hours as desired. Many students show a high level of interest and become highly involved at the clinic. Palm Beach Equine Clinic tries to accommodate each student for their participation at every level.
A program is also offered for junior students at WHS who are considering joining the Equine Pre-Vet Program when they become seniors. Junior students are invited to the clinic to learn about various paths in veterinary medicine and tour the facility in small groups. Palm Beach Equine Clinic sets up multiple stations for them to learn about things including blood work, physical exams, reproduction, and business management.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s Dr. Janet Greenfield-Davis is very involved with the program and enjoys teaching students of all ages. She has been involved in the local school system’s career day for younger children at the elementary level and also mentors the senior students who have already chosen the veterinary path involved in the externship program.
“We try to play an active role in our community, and we really enjoy having the kids visit the clinic,” said Dr. Greenfield-Davis. “When I went to high school, it was just general education, but now they really specialize in gearing the children towards specific programs in high school, and I think that is pretty impressive. To have PBEC right around the corner is handy for them, and it is nice for us to have the kids come through.
“We have some students that will come in on their own outside of school and ask to volunteer,” continued Greenfield-Davis. “We also have two girls that are in vet school now that started here in high school. They went to local colleges and they continued to come to our practice and participate all through college. We were able to write them recommendations for veterinary school, and they both got in, so we are super proud of them. We try to do all we can for the high school. We are really happy that we can provide those opportunities for the students and see them excel.”
As more and more international-level sport horse competitions are brought to North America, the import and export of equine athletes overseas has increased significantly. Moreover, with the winter show season in Florida, horses from around the world are about to make a pilgrimage to South Florida.
Either for a purchase or regularly scheduled show-season travel, Dr. Jordan Lewis of Palm Beach Equine Clinic works with Florida state veterinarians to simplify the process of importing and exporting horses to and from international destinations.
Where to Begin
The transport process begins with obtaining travel documents, including an equine passport and health certificate, and organizing travel arrangements with a professional equine shipper. Once travel is organized, checking the horse’s health is suitable for traveling is always the top priority.
“The most important thing to have in order is health records, up-to-date vaccinations, and complete preventative care,” said Dr. Lewis. “Much of the testing upon import and export depends on the outbreaks of different diseases in the import and export countries. The requirements change year to year and even month to month.”
Dr. Lewis is one of the many veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic who helps owners navigate through the ever-changing import, export, and quarantine regulations.
Requirements Differ Depending on the Specific Import and Export Countries
“Most horses that are coming from Europe to the U.S. to compete in Florida fly into Miami and are placed in a two- or three-day U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quarantine depending on the country they are arriving from,” said Dr. Lewis. “If they are arriving from South America, however, requirements are different and they will spend seven days at USDA in Miami.”
It is there that the most current regulations are upheld and tests are performed to rule out the presence of any threatening diseases.
When importing to the U.S., Dr. Lewis affirms that many tests are required through bloodwork, including equine infectious anaemia (EIA) or coggins; piroplasmosis, which is a tick-borne disease; glanders, a common bacterial disease; and dourine, a parasite-born venereal disease. When traveling from South America, horses are also tested for other parasites, such as screw worms. When exporting from the U.S., testing will vary based on the regulations of the destination country, its current health precautions and common parasites or diseases.
Once the initial quarantine is complete, geldings are released into the general population, while stallions and mares are transitioned to Contagious equine metritis (CEM) quarantine at either a commercial or private quarantine facility.
CEM is a venereal disease in horses caused by bacteria and is only spread during breeding or through infected semen during artificial insemination. CEM quarantine is recommended for all horses entering the U.S. from Europe, but not necessary for those flying in from South America as the disease is not present in those countries.
According to Dr. Lewis, CEM quarantine takes about 15 days for mares and 35 to 40 days for stallions. Taking this into account, she recommends owners plan a month to complete the travel regulations for a mare and two months for a stallion. Horses that are continually showing obviously don’t have this time built into their travel schedules, and that is where waiver tents enter the equation.
Mares and stallions that bypass CEM quarantine are shipped in a sealed trailer to the competition facility where they enter quarantine in a waiver tent to keep them secure from the general horse population while competing.
If horses are admitted into a traditional CEM quarantine, veterinarians like Dr. Lewis perform the appropriate tests and cultures that clear a horse for approved release into a new home or to the event.
“We work very closely with state veterinarians to do all the blood draws and testing for imported horses, as well as stay on top of the requirements of export countries so each horse can easily and safely transition into the equine population,” said Lewis.
While requirements may change often, the ultimate goal of veterinarians like Dr. Lewis and her colleagues remains the same: releasing safe, healthy, and happy horses to travel into the U.S. and all countries around the world.
In the summer months, it is extremely important to be aware of how the heat and sun can affect our horses. As the summer heats up around the country and especially in Florida, Palm Beach Equine Clinic would like to remind all equine owners to keep their horses in a cool, well-ventilated environment with protection from the hot weather.
There are many problems that can arise in the summer months from overheating, to dehydration, and even equine sunburn that owners should always keep in mind.
Covered Areas to Protect Your Horse
All horses should have access to shade and cool water throughout the day. Any exercise should be scheduled when the temperatures are lower, usually earlier or later in the day. Turnout should be limited to the night or cooler portions of the day, and fans can be provided indoors during extreme heat.
The average horse drinks between 5 to 10 gallons of water per day. It is important to provide clean, fresh water at all times and be aware of increased water necessities during extremely hot days.
Sweat and Sodium Levels
Sodium in your horse’s diet is very important to maintaining proper hydration. Providing a salt block or supplementing with electrolytes can help ensure that your horse is meeting their sodium requirements.
Especially in the extreme summer heat, horse owners should pay attention to the amount of sweat their horse is producing. Anhidrosis, or the inability to sweat normally, can be a common challenge for our equine partners in the summer months, particularly in hot, humid climates. In addition to lack of sweat, signs of Anhidrosis can include increased respiratory rate, elevated temperature, areas of hair loss, or dry, flaky skin. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Equine Sunburn Tips
Horses with white on their faces or bodies are especially prone to sunburn and should be protected from the harsh UV rays of the sun. Providing shade, covering your horse’s skin with fly sheets or fly masks, and applying sunscreen are all helpful ways to prevent a burn.
Fly masks are now made with extensions to cover the nose and muzzle. There are many different sunscreen products made specifically for horses, but most products approved for human use are also safe for our equine partners. Once again, horses that are particularly prone to sunburn can be kept cool and safe from the sun by staying indoors during the day and being turned out at night.
These are just a few of the important issues to be aware of during the hottest time of the year in Florida and around the country. Remember to keep your horse cool, well-hydrated, and protected from the heat and sun. Contact the veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic to learn more about precautions that can be taken to keep your horse happy and healthy throughout the summer months.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s 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, a internal medicine specialist and a radiologist, are considered some of the most experienced in treating equine athletes from all disciplines. Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians enjoy the opportunity of working with top horses and riders at their home base in Wellington, FL, and through satellite services at competitions around the world.
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 huge factor of equestrian businesses. Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s pre-purchase examination services are always available to assist in making the best decision on your next equine 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. The veterinarian examines specific body systems including the 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 goal of a pre-purchase exam is to assess its current state of the horse’s health and soundness at that time of the examination. Pre-purchase exams allow veterinarians to gather information that may help the owner and veterinarian predict a level of risk for the future use of the horse.
Steps Taken in a Pre-Purchase Exam
- “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.”
A Comprehensive Profile of the Horse
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, Palm Beach Equine Clinic serves multi-discipline clientele at equestrian competitions throughout North America and abroad. To schedule a pre-purchase exam with one of Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s top veterinarians call 561-793-1599.
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.
On May 10th Dr. Janet Greenfield-Davis participated in career day at Elbridge Elementary School. Elbridge Elementary is one of many schools that Dr. Greenfield-Davis has donated her time and knowledge to educate our young students of today on equine veterinary medicine. Dr. Greenfield-Davis is the official veterinarian for Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center, which focuses on equine-related programs for special needs children. Dr. Greenfield-Davis enjoys educating the community while raising awareness of equine health.
Mission Statement: Palm Beach Equine Clinic is dedicated to providing exceptional care to the horse and is committed to improving our relationship with our clients and our community.
“Educating our community and public service is a culture that we emphasize at Palm Beach Equine Clinic”, stated Dr. Scott Swerdlin, President of Palm Beach Equine Clinic.
Dr. Ryan Lukens recently completed an internship at Palm Beach Equine Clinic. Dr. Lukens excelled during his internship and was presented a contract toward a long and successful future with Palm Beach Equine Clinic. In the spirit of our mission statement, Dr. Lukens presented a lecture to 200 first graders concerning the anatomy of the horse with the Horse Tales Literacy Program. This event occurred at Good Earth Farm in Loxahatchee on Friday, May 17th.
“Dr Lukens was wonderful. He was knowledgeable and very patient with the first graders”, said Shelley LaConte, South Florida Director of the Horse Tales Literacy Project. “He had a smile on his face the whole day. It was a pleasure working with him. We were very grateful for his time and glad he is a part of Palm Beach Equine Clinic.” If you or any of your organizations would like a lecture or presenter please call Eques Solutions at 561-227- 1537.