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Category: News

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.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic to Sponsor $391,000 CSI5* Grand Prix at WEF

The world-renowned Palm Beach Equine Clinic, Official Veterinarian of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL, is the proud sponsor of the $391,000 CSI5* Grand Prix during “Saturday Night Lights” at WEF Week 7. 

Who: Some of the world’s most accomplished show jumping athletes. Once finalized, the order-of-go will be posted HERE.

What: The $391,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic CSI5* Grand Prix

When: Saturday, February 23, during “Saturday Night Lights” at 7 pm ET. Gates open at 6 pm. Free admission and $20/car parking.

Where: Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. Directions can be found HERE.

In addition to their sponsorship of this week’s CSI5* Grand Prix and of the 3’3″ Amateur-Owner Hunter 36 and Over division throughout WEF, Palm Beach Equine Clinic also provides state-of-the-art veterinary care to the horses of both the year-round residents and visitors of South Florida. Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s technologically advanced clinic is conveniently located at the intersection of Southfields Road and Pierson Road in the heart of Wellington, just minutes from PBIEC, the Equestrian Village, and the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The expertise and dedication of Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians is also available to all competing horses at WEF and AGDF thanks to an annex office located adjacent to the WEF stabling office on the PBIEC showgrounds as well as at the main Palm Beach Equine Clinic location. Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians are on-call daily at the annex office to assist competitors throughout the shows with diagnostic evaluations and treatments, as well as emergency and standard horse care needs.  

The Horses of WEF and AGDF Will Be in Good Hands with Palm Beach Equine Clinic

Official Veterinarians of 2019 WEF and AGDF Circuits

World-renowned veterinary facility Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) will return as the Official Veterinarians of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) running January 9 through March 31 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. 

A proponent and supporter of horse sport in Wellington and throughout the world, Palm Beach Equine Clinic has served both the year-round residents and visiting horses of south Florida for more than three decades. PBEC’s state-of-the-art clinic is conveniently located at the intersection of Southfields Road and Pierson Road in the heart of Wellington, just minutes from PBIEC, the Equestrian Village, and the International Polo Club Palm Beach. PBEC’s talented team of veterinarians offers its clients and the horses of referring veterinarians unmatched care and an innovative approach to standard and emergency services. 

Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s goal is to provide a definite diagnosis and never have to refer a case. In other words, PBEC is the equivalent of the Mayo Clinic for horses. 

“Combining the tools of our imaging department, surgical talent, and overall standard of treatment allows us to provide services far beyond what other facilities can provide,” said PBEC President Dr. Scott Swerdlin, who leads a team of more than 40 veterinarians at PBEC. “But even with all the technology we provide, we need the people to make it all happen. That is exactly what we have; veterinarians skilled in diagnostics, technicians dedicated to caring for the horses before, after, and during any procedure, and world-renowned surgeons who can take a diagnosis and treat the problem with positive results for horse and owner. It takes a team and we have one of the best in the world at Palm Beach Equine Clinic.”

PBEC’s services available to new, returning, and referred clients include:

Advanced Diagnostic Offerings

  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Standing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Nuclear Scintigraphy (bone scan)
  • Board-Certified Radiologist on Staff
  • Digital Radiography and Ultrasonography

Surgical Offerings

  • Three boarded surgeons skilled in performance-related injuries
  • Standing surgery pit
  • Surgical residency program
  • State-of-the-art surgical suite
  • Quarantine facilities with secure isolation and individual air flow systems
The Horses of WEF and AGDF Will Be in Good Hands with Palm Beach Equine Clinic
Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, Florida.

The expertise and dedication of PBEC veterinarians will be available to all competing horses at WEF and AGDF thanks to an annex office located adjacent to the WEF stabling office on the PBIEC showgrounds as well as at the main PBEC clinic location. PBEC veterinarians are on-call daily at the annex office to assist competitors throughout the shows with diagnostic evaluations and treatments, as well as emergency and standard horse care needs.

“Our location, talents, and dedication to the Wellington community and beyond have helped Palm Beach Equine Clinic to offer the best possible care to some of the world’s top equines during the winter show season,” continued Dr. Swerdlin. “Additionally, our annex office places us in the heart of it all, making advanced veterinary care convenient to equestrians competing at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. We are very proud of both facilities and the veterinarians who work there, but we are even more proud to be trusted with the care of such special animals!”

For more information on what PBEC has to offer horses competing at WEF and AGDF, stop by the annex office located next to the stabling office on the WEF showgrounds, visit www.EquineClinic.com, or call 561-793-1599.

Save The Date

In addition to being named the Official Veterinarians of WEF and AGDF, PBEC’s own veterinarians will again participate in WEF’s popular Lunch & Learn education series during the 2019 season. Mark your calendars for a presentation on Sport Horse Health on Thursday, March 7, at 11:30 a.m. in The Wellington Club at the WEF showgrounds. Admission to the Lunch & Learn series is free for riders, trainers, and owners and includes a buffet lunch and a chance to win exciting prizes from 2019 Lunch & Learn sponsors.

Understanding the Equine Neck With Dr. Richard Wheeler

In the past, when a horse’s gait has felt off or lacking in its usual impulsion, it was often assumed to be an issue of lameness. Now however, thanks to the improved diagnostics readily available at the Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians are able to more accurately pinpoint the problem area. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not always in the legs or hooves. With increasing frequency, the horse’s neck is being diagnosed as the root of the issue.

The Anatomy of the Equine Neck and What Can Go Wrong

In order to understand the problems that can arise in association with the horse’s neck, it’s important to first understand the anatomy.

The neck is composed of seven cervical vertebrae running from the head to the thorax, named C1 through C7, and each articulating with each other. The primary purposes of the neck are to move the head and to protect and transport the spinal cord and nerves, which run through the middle of the vertebrae.

A Link Between Neck Issues and Lameness

Such a major role as the protection of the nerves and spinal cord can also come with some major risks and complications, with clinical signs of these problems generally presenting themselves either neurologically, as neck pain, or as lameness in the front legs. These more specific symptoms may include:

  • Ataxia or clumsiness – Ataxia is defined as the “lack of control of bodily movements”. In the case of an ataxic horse, you may begin to notice staggering, sudden loss of balance, or even an inability to remain upright. Ataxia is generally an indicator of a neurological condition or damage to the spinal cord itself, caused by either developmental issues, trauma, or an infectious disease such as equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). Such neurological cases can often be the most debilitating.
  • Lameness – You can think of the spinal cord and the nerves in the neck like an interstate, with the spinal cord itself acting as the major highway. As you are “driving” along the interstate, every so often there are little exits, which is where the other nerves come out. Should there be any impingement on the interstate or spinal cord itself, you’re likely looking at more severe complications – much like an accident on the highway. Should there be impingement on the nerves coming off of the spinal cord, it will more likely present itself like an accident a little way off an exit – not affecting the interstate itself, but possibly causing problems that spread elsewhere. That is where we see lameness issues arise.

This can be more difficult to pin down, but can often be due to pressure on the smaller nerves that pass through the openings in the vertebrae and supply the front legs. Arthritis of the articular facet joints of the vertebrae is another common reason for lameness, as anytime these joints become arthritic or inflamed, it can easily translate to the forelimbs.

  • Neck Pain – This will often go hand-in-hand with lameness, as factors such as arthritis of the articular facet joints can lead to both symptoms. Other possible reasons for neck pain include trauma or inflammatory diseases.

Diagnosing the Problem

Neck problems, particularly those related to lameness, are generally diagnosed through a process of exclusion, first performing nerve blocks to or ruling out lower regions of the horse’s body. Palpation of the neck, testing of the neck’s movement, and full neurological exams may also be performed in addition to a full lameness exam, depending on the horse’s symptoms.

Once other regions of the horse are ruled out as the location of the problem, veterinarians are now able to use diagnostic images such as radiographs, nuclear scintigraphy and standing CT scans to specifically locate problems in the neck like never before.

In years past, those diagnostic resources were left for last-ditch cases when veterinarians really could not pinpoint any other problems. Today, with the advent of more modern technology, better radiographs, better ultrasound machines, and the more advanced imaging of nuclear scintigraphy and CT scans, veterinarians are able to readily utilize advanced diagnostics to save time and money, and to find the root of the problem more quickly and accurately.

The neck is one of the areas that has most clearly benefited from the progression in advanced imaging. While neck problems have likely been prevalent for some time, veterinarians are now finding those diagnoses more common, as they are able to more accurately locate the issue – particularly at clinics like Palm Beach Equine Clinic. Often these issues will go undiscovered or undiagnosed in the field, but they can be identified at Palm Beach Equine Clinic thanks to the readily available imaging tools.

As an example, if arthritic factors are suspected, nuclear scintigraphy can be used to look for areas of increased bone turnover. On the resulting bone scan, veterinarians are looking for areas where there is an increased calcium uptake because the bone is actively remodeling. These areas will appear darker on the scan and are generally a good indicator of a boney injury or arthritis, with the darker “hot spots” often appearing above the articular facet joints.

Also new and groundbreaking for the diagnosis of equine neck problems is the use of a Computerized Tomography or CT scan, with the ability to scan a standing horse with light sedation on the near horizon which will be available at the clinic this upcoming winter season.

Treatment

Once a solid diagnosis is arrived upon, the proper treatment protocols can be prescribed. Depending on the root of the problem, possible treatments may include shockwave therapy, regenerative therapies such as interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein (IRAP) therapy or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, or one of the most common treatments, injections of the facet joints.

In the case of facet joint injections, veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic are able to medicate under ultrasound guidance, guiding a needle into the joints and delivering corticosteroids or similar medication. Surgery is also an option as a final approach to severe complications.

In milder cases, treatments may also just call for increased time off, chiropractic treatments, or the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications.

If you suspect any issues with your horse’s neck, contact Palm Beach Equine Clinic any time by calling (561) 793-1599 to schedule an appointment.

Premier Medical Services Draw Equestrians of the World to Palm Beach Equine Clinic

Palm Beach Equine Clinic is proud to serve as the local headquarters for emergency services and equine diagnostics during the winter show season in Wellington, FL. As the official veterinary hospital of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), Palm Beach Equine Clinic has been the premier surgical facility in Wellington for over three decades.

While competing in South Florida, horses and riders from around the globe have access to Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s state-of-the-art hospital for all of their sport horse needs. Palm Beach Equine Clinic has a team of over 30 veterinarians, which includes three Board-Certified Surgeons, a Board-Certified equine Radiologist, and numerous other experts in their fields. All competitors and their traveling veterinarians are welcome for the support of services and collaboration throughout the season.

Referral Veterinarians Welcome

The referring relationship between veterinarians is most commonly seen in the specialty departments of surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology, and advanced diagnostic imaging. At Palm Beach Equine Clinic, the advanced diagnostic imaging and surgical technology is unmatched, and the three Board-Certified Surgeons are skilled in many procedures that require high levels of expertise and advanced current equipment. As a result, many veterinarians refer their clients to the facility for specialty services. 

Dr. Weston Davis of Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

Dr. Weston Davis, one of the Board-Certified Surgeons on the staff at Palm Beach Equine Clinic, works with many referral cases. Throughout the year, veterinarians from all over Florida frequently refer their clients to Palm Beach Equine Clinic for surgical procedures and advanced diagnostic imaging. The referring veterinarians may range anywhere from general practitioners to other surgeons that do not have access to surgical facilities or the most modern diagnostic imaging modalities while on the road.

“As a rule, we are friendly with referring doctors and take care of their clients with as much high-level care and professionalism as possible,” Dr. Davis stated. “It is important to us to maintain good relationships with the veterinarians that refer to us for specialty work. We always try to facilitate whatever level of involvement they desire. If they want to come and be there for the surgical procedure, we make that happen, and if they just want to send the case and not be as involved, we can do that as well. However, we also always collaborate with the referring veterinarian and the client as a team. If they send a horse in for a surgical procedure, we are going to do the procedure and then connect the client with the referring physician for the follow-up.”

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Veterinary Medical Imaging Technology at Hospital

Talented Surgeons and Advanced Diagnostic Imaging

The cutting-edge services available at Palm Beach Equine Clinic are made possible by the expertise of the hospital’s talented surgeons, along with the assistance of state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging and comprehensive surgical and medical resources. The combination brings many of the best veterinarians in the world to Palm Beach Equine Clinic for assistance with their most complex cases.

Among the hospital’s features, the latest in surgical technology enables less invasive operations that result in faster recovery times for the horse. Dr. Davis explained how diagnostic imaging is used during surgery to help guide procedures and assure the best possible result.

“Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and other advanced diagnostic imaging modalities can often be used for three-dimensional mapping to help enhance the surgical technique,” he noted. “There are some fractures in particular where the surgeon can map out the exact configuration of the fracture off of the MRI scan. We are then able to place markers with the MRI to guide a more exact, refined surgery.

“Intra-operatively, x-rays are taken to view progress, particularly for fracture repairs,” Dr. Davis continued. “The digital radiographs allows us to view the fracture in two planes to ensure optimal screw placement and fracture repair. Ultrasound is also frequently used in surgery for some of the more delicate procedures, specifically with soft tissue.”

Other surgical procedures may be guided with Arthroscopy, which aids in visualization of a joint; Laparoscopy, which uses a camera inserted into the abdomen; or Endoscopy, which is used in upper airway procedures. With the most advanced diagnostic imaging technology onsite, Palm Beach Equine Clinic is the go-to hospital for equine owners and referral veterinarians from around the world during the winter season in Wellington.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic provides experience, knowledge, availability, and the very best care for its clients. Make Palm Beach Equine Clinic a part of your team! To find out more, please call 561-793-1599.

Veterinarians On-Call and Available as Hurricane Matthew Approaches South Florida

hurricane matthew veterinarians on call south florida palm beach equine clinic

Hurricane Matthew is making its path toward South Florida, and Palm Beach Equine Clinic is ready and available to help horse owners as the storm is projected to hit the East Coast. Owners are urged to put their hurricane emergency plans into action and take precautions to ensure their horse’s safety before conditions worsen.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic is available for all emergencies 24/7. In case of an emergency, please call the main line at (561) 793-1599. Veterinarians will be on-call to drive to farms to assist or treat horses. PBEC also suggests some important steps for owners to take for their horse’s well being before the storm hits.

Suggestions for safety include:

  • Clean up around the barn for debris that may take flight.
  • Put a halter on your horse with a tag stating the horse’s name/contact number in case they get loose for the duration of the storm.
  • Ensure that horses have access to fresh water.
  • If needed, ACE tabs to calm horses can be picked up at the clinic before 12:00 noon tomorrow (Thursday, October 6).
  • Place feed/hay in an easy place to get to and off of the ground.
  • As an owner, perform a physical examination of your horse the day before to make sure all is healthy and have a comparison for after the storm examination.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic is renowned for its full-service surgical center and intensive care hospital located in the heart of Wellington, Florida. Board certified surgeons, primary care veterinarians, and hospital technicians are scheduled 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to treat, monitor, and care for critical cases. With world-class veterinarians and a full staff of highly trained technicians, both clients and patients of PBEC are in the best hands possible.

In case of an emergency, please call (561) 793-1599 to contact an on-call veterinarian.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Warns Florida Horse Owners to Check Their Pastures for Toxic Creeping Indigo

creeping indigo

The veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, FL, caution horse owners of recent toxicity cases that have arisen in South Florida suspected by the low growing weed, Creeping Indigo. Although Creeping Indigo is not native to Florida and has been reportedly growing in the state since the 1920s, the plant has recently spread from the past summer’s humid conditions. Most toxic plants are not palatable to horses and therefore do not pose as much risk; however, it appears that horses are eating Creeping Indigo with suspected fatal effects. The only real treatment is to recognize and remove the poisonous plant from all grazing areas.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s Dr. Kathleen Timmins explained that veterinarians in South Florida are suspecting Creeping Indigo cases more often and in more places than ever before. Many people are unaware of the problems this toxic plant can cause.

Signs and Symptoms

“Toxicity from Creeping Indigo can present itself through a number of different symptoms, which can make it difficult to recognize and definitively diagnose,” Dr. Timmins noted. “There is no test or treatment, and the damage that it causes can be irreversible. The only true treatment is limiting their exposure to it.”

The most important step to avoid illness is to eradicate the plant from all pastures and grazing areas. Horse owners should walk through their property and review grass areas for the plant. Creeping Indigo is a prostrate plant that is commonly found in high traffic areas of grass, such as parking lots, turf, roadsides, medians, and overgrazed pastures. Flowers arise from the base of the leaves and are pink to salmon in color. It often grows under the grass, and when it is not flowering, it can be difficult to see. It also has a very deep root, so it is not easy to pull up.

Both neurologic and non-neurologic signs are documented, and researchers are uncertain how much Creeping Indigo a horse needs to consume before clinical signs appear.

The most notable signs are neurologic; horses may seem lethargic or have less energy than usual. Head carriage is often low, and there may be rhythmic blinking and jerking eye movements. An abnormal gait may be noticed, characterized by incoordination and weakness in all limbs.

Non-neurologic signs may include high heart and respiratory rates, high temperature, watery discharge from the eyes, discoloration of the cornea or corneal ulceration, or ulceration of the tongue and gums.

“There are so many varied symptoms that it is often not the first diagnosis you would think of,” Dr. Timmins explained. “There are also many other toxic plants, but if horses have access to good quality feed or grazing, they will not usually eat the toxic plants. The best solution is to find the plant, get rid of it, and not have to find out if it has been consumed.”

Treatment

Horses that are quickly removed from the plants may recover completely, but there is no effective treatment, and symptoms may persist. The best way to prevent poisoning is to stop access to paddocks where Creeping Indigo is present and to remove plants by physical means or herbicide application.

Dr. Jorge Gomez of Palm Beach Equine Clinic Looks Forward to the Olympic Games in Rio

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is finally here and Palm Beach Equine Clinic is proud to have its own Dr. Jorge Gomez present to provide veterinary support for some of the world’s most elite horses. Dr. Gomez is not only a top sport horse practitioner, but is also a renowned Board-Certified Surgeon.

Dr. Gomez will be in attendance at the prestigious Games to serve as the veterinarian for the team horses in show jumping events representing Venezuela and Colombia held August 14-18. Two elite horse and rider combinations competing for individual medals will represent each country. On behalf of Colombia, Daniel Bluman with Apardi and Rene Lopez aboard Con Dios III will compete individually. The riders representing Venezuela competing for individual medals include Pablo Barrios riding Antares and Emanuel Andrade with Hardrock Z.

Olympic Veterinary Responsibilities

There is a tremendous amount of work that is required in preparing and maintaining a top performance horse for a significant world championship event such as the Olympic Games. While in Rio, Dr. Gomez will closely monitor that each horse is in optimal health conditions while competing. He is responsible for providing and administering permitted medications for muscle, joint, and tendon support, as well as vitamins and intravenous fluids, if necessary. Dr. Gomez also assists the competitors by providing and prescribing physical alternative therapies that help maintain the horse in the best possible form for competition.

Dr. Gomez, originally from Colombia, has been affiliated with Palm Beach Equine Clinic since 2011 and has since represented the clinic at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, and the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

“It is a good opportunity to meet people at all levels and from all over the world that are involved in equestrian sports,” Dr. Gomez said of representing the clinic worldwide. “Palm Beach Equine Clinic becomes a familiar place for all those acquaintances to come to and to refer their horses when they come to Wellington. Many of the horses that we take care of during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington are referred to us because of the connections that we have made at the international competitions.”

Caring for Olympic Equine Athletes

Since he has served at many major international events, Dr. Gomez understands the larger significance of preparing for the Olympic Games. An Olympic medal is a lifelong dream for most grand prix competitors, and having the right horse in peak condition is essential.

“Caring for the horses at the Olympic Games is the same as any other competition, but there are maximal responsibilities,” Dr. Gomez detailed. “Because of the nature of the event, riders want us to be checking the horses entirely on a daily basis for at least one week before the event starts.

“Of the four horses that will be under my care, three of them are my regular clients, so I keep a fairly close eye on them already,” Dr. Gomez added. “In conjunction with trainers and riders, we planned a schedule that we think is the best for the event. I look forward to the competition, and I hope that the horses under my care perform according to expectations.”
Palm Beach Equine Clinic, the industry leader in sport horse veterinary care, features an illustrious list of veterinarians who are experts in their respective fields. Dr. Gomez and PBEC’s team of 30 veterinarians, including Board-Certified Surgeons and Radiologists, are available to provide services to clientele throughout North America and around the world in the various horse sport disciplines

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Welcomes International Veterinarians Throughout CSIO Nations’ Cup Week in Wellington

As the official veterinarians of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL, Palm Beach Equine Clinic welcomes all veterinarians, local and worldwide, to utilize their services and facilities throughout the winter season.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Welcomes International Veterinarians Throughout CSIO Nations’ Cup Week in Wellington
Palm Beach Equine Clinic Welcomes International Veterinarians Throughout CSIO Nations’ Cup Week in Wellington

Locating Riding Distance from the Horse Show

Located just down the road from the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), PBEC offers state-of-the-art surgical tools, highly advanced diagnostic imaging equipment, three board-certified surgeons, one of the top board-certified equine radiologists in the country, and 28 accomplished and knowledgeable veterinarians available to treat clientele of any discipline.

During the winter season, the veterinarians of PBEC donate their time and services to the world-class competitors of the Winter Equestrian Festival. Week eight of the 12-week WEF circuit is currently underway with CSIO competition, and PBEC welcomes the international team veterinarians to make use of their services as horses and riders compete in the prestigious Nations’ Cup classes.

Horse and rider teams from all around the world will be competing in the esteemed senior Nations’ Cup on Friday night, March 4, beginning at 7 p.m. Hollow Creek Farm will be hosting the Children’s, Junior and Young Rider FEI Nations’ Cup team events on Saturday evening, March 5, 2016. The teams have flown from over ten different countries throughout South America, North America, and abroad to compete this week.

Proud to be Part of Prestigious Competiton

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Veterinarian Scott Swerdlin

For PBEC President, Dr. Scott Swerdlin, the Nations’ Cup events provide some of the most exciting competition of the circuit and he is proud to have his veterinarians well-represented.

“Those two nights that we have the Nations’ Cup classes, everyone is so competitive and proud of their country and proud of the horses in their country,” said Dr. Swerdlin. “Nations’ Cup week is one of the highlights of WEF and we really appreciate having the opportunity to be supportive of all of the teams. For us, it is just a privilege to be a part of such a special competition. We enjoy working with the different veterinarians and they are always welcome to come to PBEC if they are traveling with a team. Our motto is ‘Make us a part of your team,’ and we hope that visiting doctors will take advantage of the world-class services that we have to offer.”

All-Inclusive Equine Hospital, Imaging and Emergency Services

PBEC’s Dr. Richard Wheeler spoke of the support that the clinic is able to provide to the teams as they compete throughout the week in Nations’ Cup classes.

“Being a full-service facility, we are proud to provide support to the international teams,” said Dr. Wheeler. “It is great to see the international horse community come together and it is fun for us to build relationships with vets from all over the world. We often have vets come to visit us and spend time in our hospital, and likewise, we visit them in their facilities.

“We are here to support them,” Dr. Wheeler continued. “In an emergency situation, we are here to provide hospitalization and ambulatory services. We offer advanced imaging services such as MRI and Nuclear Scintigraphy, we have a fantastic team of internal medicine specialists that includes three board-certified surgeons, and we have one of very few board certified equine radiologists in the world.”

Palm Beach Equine Clinic jump at Wellington's Winter Equestrian Festival

Dr. Wheeler added, “PBEC always has a veterinarian on the show grounds any time competition is going on. We also have a new Annex office on the show grounds this year so that the doctors can quickly and safely treat horses in a clean environment. The hospital is then ready for emergencies 24/7, with specialists, equipment, and personnel ready to handle any situation.”

Surgical Services Available When Needed

PBEC Staff Surgeon Dr. Jorge Gomez serves as the team veterinarian for Colombia and Venezuela. Dr. Gomez finds his partnership with PBEC very important throughout the season.

Dr. Gomez explained his responsibilities as team vet, stating, “I am in charge of the health and soundness of the horses in the team. Before the events, and once the horses for the team are chosen, I look at all of the team horses individually to make sure the horses are in good condition to compete. We check all the health papers and passports to make sure they are up to date. During the competition days, I perform horse inspections before and after every class.  In conjunction with the grooms, we also make sure that the horses are in normal condition with no modifications of their normal behavior.”

If there are any concerns of a horse’s well-being, Dr. Gomez and all of the team veterinarians have the diagnostic services of PBEC at their fingertips. Along with the advanced imaging capabilities and emergency surgical services, teams can make use of PBEC’s niche offerings, such as chiropractic care or acupuncture as well.

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!  

Dr. Richard Wheeler Discusses USEF Vaccination Requirement Rule Change

This fall, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) unveiled its latest health rule requiring all horses entering a Federation-licensed competition be accompanied by documentation of Equine Influenza Virus (flu) and Equine Herpes Virus (rhinopneumonitis) vaccinations within six months of being stabled at the show. Now approaching a month of enforcement during the 2016 winter show season, the new vaccination requirements enacted by the USEF gave structure to requirements that were previously being developed and enforced on a show-by-show basis.

After Florida’s Equine Herpes (EHV) scare in February of 2013, horse show facilities began adopting vaccination requirements of their own, usually requiring EHV-1 and EHV-4 vaccines within 90 to 120 days of a horse’s arrival to the grounds.

Now, USEF specifically requires all licensed competitions comply with the same set of requirements while not increasing the workload for competition management. The six-month timeline also matches the operating procedures of international shows overseen by the FEI as well.

According to Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s own Dr. Richard Wheeler, the rule change simply makes sense.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic Dr. Richard Wheeler
Dr. Richard Wheeler of Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

“Most people regularly vaccinate their horses every six months anyway, so this rule should not present a disruption to current practices,” he said. “After the 2013 scare, competitions recognized the potential of closure due to infectious disease and started creating requirements which became inconsistent between shows.”

Whether directly or indirectly affected by rule change itself, an increase in awareness regarding equine infectious disease in recent years had minimized outbreaks, according to Dr. Wheeler.

“A good job is being done so far to keep a big problem away,” he added.

While efforts by the USEF, veterinarians, and horse owners alike have proved successful in keeping horses safe and healthy, Dr. Wheeler was quick to remind the equine community to not get complacent. He stresses the continuation of education and awareness.

“An increase in bio-security is the most significant benefit we’ve had as a result of these requirements,” he said. “This is the most protective measure that we have taken on as a community, and people are now cognizant of how disruptive bringing a sick horse to a show can be. We see people getting vets involved quickly and shows doing a good job of providing isolation. What’s been done in the past few years is a positive thing, but it’s important that we don’t let our guard down because we haven’t had an outbreak in a few years.”

In addition to abiding by the USEF’s six-month rule, Dr. Wheeler also suggests the individuals responsible for caring for horses continue their efforts past the gates of the facility.

“Horse shows are often condensed places and limiting the exposure of horses is difficult,” he said. “It’s important that we stay really aware, take temperatures regularly, identify sick horses, and isolate them immediately. It’s all key to prevent outbreaks.”

Thanks to regulations, always improving technology, educated veterinarians, and diligent horsemen and women, the equine community is becoming more guarded against infectious disease than ever before.

To read more about the USEF vaccination requirement, click here. The experts at Palm Beach Equine Clinic stand ready to answer any questions horse owners may have about vaccinations and the requirements needed for equestrian competitions.

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