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It Takes a Village: Palm Beach Equine Clinic an Integral Part of Show Jumping Star’s Success


The phrase “It takes a village” is commonly heard in the equestrian world. From the groom and barn manager to the professional rider, there are multiple individuals who help a horse reach its full potential and continue performing at its best. Although many people may think a veterinarian is who you call only when tragedy strikes, Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s team of veterinarians pride themselves on being an integral part of a horse and rider’s success. For Megan McDermott, a young show-jumping professional, Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s team of professionals has been there every step of the way. 

McDermott, who started riding at the age of seven, originally planned to have a career in the film industry after graduating college and continue riding as an amateur. However, after a fateful meeting with Daniel Bluman and months under his mentorship and coaching, McDermott began spending more time in the saddle and eventually made a full career switch. “I remember my first Saturday Night Light class was a three-star grand prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival, and at the time, I had just turned pro so I didn’t have a trainer,” shared McDermott. “Dr. Richard Wheeler was the last person to speak to me before I went into the ring and the first person I saw when I came out.


“Not only is he a fantastic veterinarian, but he also acts as an advocate and understands that you’re doing this because you love horses and that there’s a business aspect to it as well,” she continued. “He’s able to give phenomenal advice and really understands the rider’s perspective. He also understands the trajectory of the horses’ careers and at what point they need to peak and is very conscious of your money, your time, and of course, your horses’ careers. He’s more than just a veterinarian, and I think all his clients feel that their wins are his wins.” 

During the summer, McDermott spends a lot of her time traveling to different shows in the Northeast, sometimes making it difficult for her horses to be seen by their primary veterinarian. “If Richard can’t see me where I am during the summer, he’s extremely willing to collaborate with other veterinarians,” she noted. 

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McDermott recalled when her horse Tizimin LS sustained a severe injury while competing at HITS Saugerties in 2018. “Tizi was my first FEI horse, and we shared a really special bond,” she commented. “We were competing in a big jumper class and going clear, and then at the last jump, something happened, and his hind end just gave out. At the time, people thought he was going to have to be put down in the ring. It was horrible.”

She continued, “Dr. Sarah Allendorf was there at the ring when it happened. Richard wasn’t there, but he had dealt with something similar before, and he was the only person who told me Tizi would be able to recover. We sent Tizi to Rhinebeck [Animal Hospital], and Richard was there for me every step of the way. He was constantly talking to all the veterinarians there and so invested in helping me get him back into the ring.” Tizi stayed at Rhinebeck for three months before getting the green light to return home, where he continued to recover and returned to the FEI ring in 2020.

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Although Dr. Wheeler is McDermott’s primary veterinarian, she shared that her success is thanks to a collaborative effort with other veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic.

McDermott explained, “All of the veterinarians there are extremely collaborative. Most veterinarians get very possessive in a way that makes them single-minded, but I think it’s really important to be open to different perspectives and be creative, and all of the veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine have been like that for me. Although Richard is my primary veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Allendorf, Dr. Laura Hutton, and Dr. Selina Watt have also done a lot for me and my horses. Managing sport horses is a bit of an art form, and I think they all understand sport horses a lot more than most veterinarians do.” 

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