Dr. Janet Greenfield Davis has recently notched another professional title to her name as a Certified Equine Rehabilitation and Performance Veterinarian (CERPV). The certification through the Integrative Veterinary Medical Institute aims to enhance the high-level sport horse medicine practitioner’s ability to localize the root cause of performance deficits, evaluate the horse’s biomechanics on a segmented level, and select the appropriate rehabilitation tools. The CERPV distinguishes veterinarians who possess the knowledge and skills to spot slight variations in a horse’s gait and performance before they lead to lameness and deliver an elevated quality of rehabilitation management.
“I chose to pursue this certification as an extension of my understanding of the many intricacies with both movement and muscle of the sport horse. This deeper understanding goes toward helping keep my clients’ horses in the best condition for peak performance, heal stronger after injury, and prevent injuries from happening in the first place.”
Dr. Greenfield Davis
Dr. Greenfield Davis built on her knowledge of how the equine athlete functions through in-depth courses on the anatomy, biomechanics, and neuromuscular control in performance horses. Specific courses focused on the physiology and function of muscles, tendons, and joints with an emphasis on ways to develop strong tissue to avoid injury. Dr. Greenfield Davis analyzed how and when to apply specific rehabilitation tools; lasers, therapeutic ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, pulsed electro-magnetic field technology, vibration plates, hyperbaric therapy, hydrotherapy, and regenerative medicine. The certification also emphasized the effects of a foal’s environment on its future athletic performance, issues that may arise when conditioning young, growing horses, and nutrition at different levels of training.
This CERPV adds to her current titles of Bachelors of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVMS) from the University of Glasgow – a degree akin to US based universities’ Doctor of Veterinary Medicine – and her designation as a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS). Dr. Greenfield also earned her Certification in Veterinary Acupuncture (CVA) through the Chi Institute (presently Chi University) which she applies to her large and small animal patients. Acting as a mentor to aspiring Chinese and alternative medicine practitioners, Dr. Greenfield has advised students enrolled in acupuncture studies. She has provided insight to many veterinary students through Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s Externship Program as well.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic Founder Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to the Sport of Polo
The Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame will honor Dr. Paul Wollenman as a 2021 Inductee of the Philip Iglehart Award in recognition of his exceptional lifetime contributions to the sport of polo on a regional and national level.
Beginning his career as the youngest graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine at only 21-years-old, he has dedicated nearly five decades to the polo and veterinary industries. He has taken an integral role in the polo community by educating teams on proper care and supporting the world’s top equine athletes. Dr. Wollenman has worked in an advisory capacity for the Equine Welfare Committee of the United States Polo Association (USPA). He has mentored Team USPA participants and the National Youth Tournament Series teams by giving lectures, counseling members on proper horse care, and aiding with their veterinary issues. As an amateur 2-goal handicap player himself, Dr. Wollenman is fortunate to thoroughly enjoy the sport and career in which he is revered.
When asked his thoughts on the Iglehart Induction announcement, Dr. Wollenman said, “Over the years, I had occasionally heard my name mentioned when people besides famous high-goal players were inducted. When Chrys Beal called to tell me that I was voted unanimously into this year’s honorees, I felt somewhat embarrassed and undeserving. Still, the influx of congratulatory phone calls and messages I have received about my induction from owners, polo players, and grooms has made me even more happy and proud of my life and career choices.
“I’ve been blessed by many wonderful and colorful relationships with friends and clients in the polo community,” Dr. Wollenman continued. “Most of all, I am incredibly lucky and thankful for my wife, Renee, who understands the demands of veterinary medicine and polo. She played polo collegiately and throughout her adult life, raised two wonderful sons who have both become doctors, and has supported me throughout the long, arduous hours of veterinary medicine.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have great veterinary partners and smart, driven associates who have helped build Palm Beach Equine Clinic not only into a massively successful equine hospital, but also an enjoyable place to work and grow professionally. It is truly my second home and has allowed me to concentrate on polo medicine,” he concluded.
Photos by the United States Polo Association.
“During a career that spans 48 years, Dr. Wollenman’s expertise as a veterinarian caring for the horses of some of the nation’s finest polo teams has been a factor in helping the sport of polo. Noted for his sound and practical advice as well as ingenious solutions to complicated injuries, he has spent most of a lifetime striving to improve the care and welfare of the horses that make polo possible.”
2021 Honorees Announcement by the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.
The Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame will recognize Dr. Wollenman and the 2021 Inductees this February through their media channels. A formal Induction Ceremony and Gala will be held in February of 2022 in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic so that inductees’ families, friends and fans may be present. Dr. Wollenman was nominated by a committee of eminent and knowledgeable individuals across the sport of polo who voted to elect this year’s winners.
Read about the 2021 Polo Hall of Fame Inductees by going to the Museum’s Facebook page linked below.
2021 POLO HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES CHOSEN
For the 32nd year of inductions into the Polo Hall of Fame, we have the honor…
Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarian Dr. Marilyn Connor was recently featured in The Equestrian Podcast by My Equestrian Style where she explains her path to practicing equine medicine. Listen and learn about Dr. Connor by clicking on the recording below. For more on Dr. Connor, click here to read more about her and her interests in veterinary care.
Dr. McColough completed his undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University with a double major in Biology and Spanish. Upon graduation, Dr. McColough obtained a certification in Phlebotomy and worked as a Biomedical Research Technician for Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. In this position, he performed hematology and oncology research assays, blood and bone marrow processing, separation, analysis, and cryopreservation, and analyzed cells for DNA extraction.
Dr. McColough volunteered for the Sea Research Foundation in his home state of Connecticut, where he led immunophenotyping for the Marine Mammal Immunological Diagnostics Program that was funded by the Office of Naval Research. His efforts in data analysis contributed to the programs ability to receive grant funding. Dr. McColough also volunteered for the Aquatic Animal Health Center of New York Aquarium as a veterinary assistant where he worked with diverse marine life, such as penguins, walruses, otters, seals, and various fish and amphibians.
Evolving from sea to land animals, Dr. McColough gained experience as a veterinary technician for a small animal hospital in New York City, and then decided to pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine at the Royal Veterinary College of London in the United Kingdom. Throughout his studies, he completed several research projects, including the investigation of early loss of pregnancy in thoroughbred mares, and the culture, fluorescent microscopy, and flow cytometric analysis of primary equine trophoblast cells. Dr. McColough completed an externship at Palm Beach Equine Clinic during his final year of veterinary school and has been keen on pursuing a career in equine sports medicine.
Palm Beach Equine Clinic is proud to welcome new intern Charley McColough, BVetMed, MRCVS, to our team! Learn more about Dr. McColough:
What inspired you to become a veterinarian?
The dream started for me while I was a Research Intern at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT. I was performing immunology assays on beluga whale blood and working closely with the veterinary team. I was both profoundly impressed and mystified by the skill set and knowledge base that the veterinarians exhibited. Simply put, I wanted to know what they knew.
Why did you choose to pursue equine medicine?
I have wanted to work with large animals since I was a veterinary technician at a small animal practice in Greenwich Village of New York City. I was working with toy breed dogs – some of which never seemed to set foot on the ground – all the while dreaming about working outside with large animals. I was drawn to, and began my veterinary profession in, the equestrian industry because I have been keenly interested in the athleticism of the horse.
Are there any standout cases that you have especially enjoyed working on so far at PBEC?
There was a case that was referred to PBEC following a laceration and repair in the region of the lower jaw. The horse recovered from the laceration but saliva would spurt from the wound when the horse ate. It was amazing to watch the PBEC team catheterize the parotid salivary duct from the buccal surface of the mouth and use ultrasound to catheterize the same duct as it left the parotid gland caudal to the mandibular ramus. The surgeons were able to dissect down and locate both ends of the severed parotid duct and oppose them over a continuous catheter placed from the gland to the buccal surface. Essentially, they found two needles in a haystack and reconnected them to allow proper flow of saliva for the horse.
When not at PBEC, what do you enjoy doing and where can we find you?
In past years, you might have found me on a rock climbing wall or tossing a Frisbee in a wide open field. Nowadays, you’ll find me at home with my wife Ashley and our 9-month-old son Max, making tacos and burgers out of his Fisher-Price food truck.
Dr. Jordan Lewis
is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and
has dedicated her professional career to serving her home state. Dr. Lewis grew
up with horses and completed an internship in equine medicine and surgery at
the Equine Medical Center in Ocala.
Get to know Dr. Lewis:
1. What is your background with horses?
I moved from New York City to Fort Lauderdale, FL, when I was eight years old. My dad grew up loving horses, and when I was two, he bought a horse. We would travel from our home in New York City to visit him in the Pocono Mountains every weekend to ride. My first experience on a horse was riding double with my dad through cornfields. When I was eight years old, we moved to Florida and I was lucky enough to get my own pony. I got totally hooked on horses and I competed on the Arabian circuit as a teenager.
2. What inspired you to pursue veterinary medicine?
As a child, I participated in local 4-H programs and had the experience of touring an equine surgical and rehabilitation facility. I realized early that this was exactly what I wanted to do as my career.
3. When did you join Palm Beach Equine Clinic and what is your specialty?
I joined the team at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in June of 2005. I love the fact that we have such a dynamic team of veterinarians to work with and consult on difficult cases. I wouldn’t say I have a main focus as I am able to do everything from sports medicine and lameness exams to reproduction work thanks to the clinic’s wide range of cases and capabilities.
4. What advice would you give someone who wants to become an equine vet?
I would tell them that a career in large animal veterinary care is not just a job, it is a lifestyle. If it is what you are meant to do, you will love every minute of this lifestyle. I get to be outside and around horses all day. For me, this is the greatest profession.
5. What is one of the most interesting cases you have worked on?
interesting case I have worked on was a pericardial effusion. The condition is
caused by excess fluid between the heart and the sac surrounding the heart, known
as the pericardium. To remove the
fluid, I performed a pericardiocentesis,
which involved placing a drain within the sac around the heart to drain the
excess fluid and relieve pressure on the heart. That is not something you get
to do every day!
Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s surgical team leader, Dr. Robert Brusie, is a nationally renowned board-certified surgeon whose surgical specialties include orthopedic, arthroscopic, and emergency cases. Dr. Brusie has been the head surgeon with Palm Beach Equine Clinic for the last 20 years and is a beloved part of the team.
Dr. Brusie graduated from Michigan State University (MSU) College of Veterinary Medicine. He completed his surgical residency at the Marion DuPont Scott Equine Center in Virginia in 1989 and has been in private practice ever since. He became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1994. Dr. Brusie joined the Palm Beach Equine Clinic team in 1996.
Board-certified surgeon, Dr. Brusie is recognized for his expertise in colic surgery, as well as for his skill in arthroscopic surgery. His surgical experience expands the clinic’s progressive care in both emergency and elective procedures. He has published articles on numerous topics, including the equine intestinal tract and septic arthritis in horses. Dr. Brusie is married and has three daughters. Read on to find out more about Dr. Brusie!
What is your background with horses?
I grew up on a farm in Michigan. We had usually between 200 and 600 head of cattle and always between four to six horses. Our horses were cow ponies or driving horses. My dad loved horses and had to have them around. My family has owned our farm for six generations and it pretty much occupied all of our time besides sports and school. Needless to say, we didn’t have much time to show horses.
When and why did you decide to become a veterinarian? Did you know you wanted to be a surgeon from the start?
I decided to become a veterinarian at an early age. I think I was seven or eight years old when I pulled my first calf. One of my dad’s hired men called me “Doc” when I was about that age. When I went to college, my plan was to become a large animal veterinarian and live in my hometown and continue to farm part-time with my three brothers. All of that changed when I was in veterinary school at MSU. Dr. Ed Scott was one of the five surgeons there; he was a gifted surgeon and a great teacher. He steered me into an equine internship at Auburn University. It was one of those things that the more you did, the more you wanted to do to improve yourself. I operated on my first colic by myself when I was three weeks out of vet school (32 years ago).
How did you first start working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic?
I was a surgeon at a clinic in Atlanta, and in 1996 I had performed a surgery for a client of Dr. Paul Wollenman’s. He had started this practice in 1975 and asked me if I needed a job. I was planning on staying in Atlanta for the rest of my career. I received phone calls from the other two partners over the next nine months, and eventually with encouragement from my fiancé, now wife, Melissa, I took the job.
What do you love most about working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic?
We have an exceptional group of veterinarians and staff here. The depth and scope of our veterinarians is amazing due to the large caseload. On any individual case, there may be two to three doctors that have input on the case to ensure no stone is left unturned. Additionally, we are so privileged to work on some of the best show, race, and polo horses in the world. It is truly an honor.
Between Dr. Jorge Gomez, Dr. Weston Davis, and myself, we perform just about every type of soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries that are done in our field. Personally, my greatest sense of success is when I see a horse back after surgery going as well or better than it was prior to surgery.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in sport horse medicine over the years?
Currently, the most exciting thing we see going on in medicine is regenerative therapy. Twelve to 15 years ago, we were harvesting bone marrow from the sternum and injecting it into lesions in tendons and ligaments. Now we manipulate the bone marrow or other sources of stem cells to promote more rapid and more functional healing of some of these injuries. I can assure you that in 10 to 20 years what we are doing now will seem stone-aged by then. There are some very clever minds performing some serious research in this field.
How do you stay up-to-date on new medical advances?
Every veterinarian at Palm Beach Equine Clinic tries to attend as many meetings as time allows. We also do a weekly journal club at our clinic to discuss recently published papers in veterinary and human medicine and surgery.
What is the most interesting or challenging surgery that you have done?
Dr. Gomez and I had a three-year-old racehorse that had split his P1 (long pastern bone) and cannon bone in the same leg in a race. We were able to piece together both bones perfectly and the horse recovered brilliantly. He probably could have returned to racing, however, the owners elected to retire him to life as a breeding stallion.
What is something interesting that people may not know about you?
I have three daughters who I am very proud of and tend to brag on maybe a little too much.
How else is the family involved in horses?
My wife [Melissa] and youngest daughter [Kayla] are horse nuts in the true sense of the word. Anything to do with horses, especially show hunters, they are dialed in. Melissa loves riding, and Kayla shows in hunters and equitation.
What makes Palm Beach Equine Clinic a special place for you?
I am blessed to have three good men as business partners. They are my good friends and great people. We are very lucky to have 20-plus veterinarians working with us who are very knowledgeable and caring individuals. We feel like a little practice, but with a lot of people who just get the job done.
Dr. Bryan Dubynsky joined the team of veterinarians at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in 2009 and specializes in treating sport horses, working to return them to top performance after injury or complication. Get to know Dr. Dubynsky:
1. Where did you grow up and what is your background with horses?
I grew up in Northern Indiana on a horse farm. I was fortunate enough to breed horses, show on the Midwestern circuit, and train our horses. My father is a physician and I’ve always grown up with an interest in medicine. Choosing to become a veterinarian seemed to be a natural fit that combined my love for horses and medicine.
2. Who has been the biggest influence in your life or career? What did they teach you?
I spent my entire childhood from eight to 18 years old with a third-generation horse trainer from Kentucky. He taught me horsemanship and patience, two crucial parts of a good foundation for successfully working around horses every day. If I could give advice to anyone thinking about becoming a veterinarian, it would be to seek out the top people in the industry and work with them. Learn as much as you possibly can from the people who have been practicing for a long time.
3. What is your specialty/main focus as a vet?
My main focus and interest is sport horse medicine. I love focusing on improving athletic performance and treating sports-related injuries to help clients get their equine partners back to the top!
4. What do you love about your job?
I love working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic for the exceptional medical and surgical capabilities and experiences available. I also love the camaraderie of all the employees; we really work as a team! Teamwork is paramount for making the clinic successful. I love the opportunities to travel throughout North America and Europe to see really cool places through work with my clients. I love working with the competition horses and being a part of the atmosphere of high-level competition, as well as caring for the sweet trail horses at home.
5. What is one of the most interesting cases you have worked on?
My own horse, Batman. He was an abandoned polo pony suffering from West Nile Virus. He was paralyzed for three days and no one wanted to treat him. We treated him with intensive care for three days and used a tractor as a last-ditch effort to get him to stand. He has since made a full recovery and is currently playing polo.
Dr. Selina Passante-Watt traded in the cold winters of Canada for the sunny shores of South Florida and joined the practice at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in the fall of 2013. A veterinarian at just 32 years of age, Dr. Passante-Watt enjoys the team-oriented aspect and vast resources that working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic offers. She now splits her time between winters working at Palm Beach Equine Clinic and running a mobile practice with her husband in Western Canada during the summers.
“There are a lot of specialists and very intelligent people at that practice, so the continual learning is incredibly valuable, especially as a young vet,” she acknowledged. “I learn every day. It is an amazing experience to be able to walk down the hall and knock on the door of one of the best board-certified surgeons or other specialist and say, ‘Hey, can you help me with this?’ You do not realize how beneficial that is until you leave, and you are in the middle of Western Canada and you wish that you had that.”
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Dr. Passante-Watt graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, SK, in June 2012. After graduation, she moved west to Calgary, Alberta, and completed an internship in equine medicine and surgery at Moore Equine Veterinary Centre. She and her husband, who is also an equine veterinarian, relocated to South Florida in July of 2013 in order to pursue their equine veterinary careers.
Dr. Passante-Watt started riding when she was 10 years old and was a typical horse-crazy child. She took western riding lessons for a few years before falling in love with polo. When she was in high school, she got a job grooming and exercising polo horses in Winnipeg, which continued for six summers.
After high school, Dr. Passante-Watt was unsure what career path she wanted to take, so she embarked on a backpacking trip in Australia. She picked up small jobs while traveling, one being picking mangos. While on that mango farm, she found a small dog that was wounded from a fight with another dog. Dr. Passante-Watt took the dog, fixed his wounds, and nursed him back to health. It was that experience that inspired her to apply to veterinary school.
While attending vet school in Saskatoon, Dr. Passante-Watt met her husband, Dr. Walker Watt, and the pair got married in October of 2013. During his fourth year of vet school, Dr. Watt attended a conference and met some veterinarians from Teigland, Franklin, and Brokken, a racetrack practice at Gulfstream Park in Florida. He went to visit and did an externship there, later receiving a job offer. Dr. Watt and Dr. Passante-Watt then made the decision to move to Florida, where Dr. Watt took the racetrack job, and Dr. Passante-Watt found a position at Palm Beach Equine Clinic.
“Palm Beach Equine Clinic is a great practice,” Dr. Passante-Watt stated. “I have been working with Dr. Jorge Gomez, who works mainly on sport horses and more specifically on show jumpers, so it has been great getting involved in that world and receiving mentorship from Dr. Gomez. There is a lot of sport horse medicine that we do not see back home in Canada. It is a different world in Wellington; everything is a step ahead.”
The first year Dr. Passante-Watt and her husband moved to Florida, they stayed and worked for the full year. They then decided to split their time between the U.S. and Canada, just traveling to Florida for the winter season. They opened their own mobile practice in Western Canada, which Dr. Watt now runs year-round while his wife soaks up everything she can learn in Wellington throughout the winter.
“There is a lack of equine veterinarians in Southern Alberta where we live,” Dr. Passante-Watt explained. “There are a lot of mixed animal practitioners, but not a lot of specific equine practitioners, let alone in performance horses. That is why we decided to open a practice and just work on horses, and it has been going really well so far.”
Dr. Passante-Watt enjoys being able to draw on the resources of Palm Beach Equine Clinic even when she’s in Canada for the summer. “You can easily email people, send images, and pick up the phone and call someone with questions,” Dr. Passante-Watt stated. “I find everyone at Palm Beach Equine Clinic to be very helpful. As a vet early in my career, I think it is a great thing to work in a practice like that because it definitely pushes you to learn and be your best because you are working with the best.”
Having a state-of-the-art facility and equipment at Palm Beach Equine Clinic at her disposal throughout the winter is also a huge advantage.
“It is an amazing difference,” Dr. Passante-Watt noted. “I see both sides of it, because I am in Canada in the summer in my own small mobile practice with no bells and whistles, and then I come down to Palm Beach Equine Clinic and you have everything you could want at your fingertips. Every sort of pharmaceutical need, every tool, every cutting-edge technology, they just have it all right here. For the hospital, there are technicians and interns to monitor your cases overnight, and the 24-hour Intensive Care Unit is state-of-the-art. It is definitely set up to be successful, and with so many veterinarians, everyone is great about helping one another.”
Dr. Passante-Watt has many different veterinary interests, including diagnostic imaging, ophthalmology, lameness, dentistry and internal medicine. She really enjoys general practice, specializing in a little bit of everything. She is also certified in acupuncture and equine chiropractic from Options for Animals Chiropractic School.
As far as future goals, Dr. Passante-Watt plans to take it year by year, continuing to come to Palm Beach Equine Clinic in the winters, continuing to learn, and being the best veterinarian that she can be.
The process of breeding sport horses is ever-changing. Whether in an effort to produce the healthiest, most talented foals, to prolong the competition career of a mare, or make the most of a stallion’s longevity, reproductive science in horses has come a long way from the days of the traditional breeding shed.
Dr. Katie Atwood is a member of the Palm Beach Equine Clinic team, based in Wellington, FL, with a passion for reproductive work. She has used that passion to help Palm Beach Equine Clinic offer cutting edge breeding options all in the heart of the winter equestrian capital of the world.
“I like the creating of life,” said Dr. Atwood, who is a Florida native and University of Florida graduate and currently pursuing steps to become a board-certified reproductive specialist. “Equine medicine is intriguing, but you’re dealing with sick, unhealthy animals. With reproduction, I am working with healthy animals and making their babies, which I love!”
The Future of Breeding at Palm Beach Equine Clinic
PBEC is a one-stop shop for anyone’s breeding needs, whether it’s a champion polo pony, competing mare, or full-time breeding stallion. Atwood and the team at Palm Beach Equine Clinic work tirelessly to improve their offerings, which currently include a breeding shed covered from the heat and inclement weather just like an indoor arena. Inside the breeding shed, Palm Beach Equine Clinic houses a hydraulic phantom mare.
“We can raise or lower our phantom with the push of a button so it can be the appropriate height for the stallion,” said Dr. Atwood. “Previously, we had to bring a tractor in to raise and lower the phantom. We also do not have to take weather into consideration anymore now that the breeding shed is covered. There is enough space and privacy for safe and convenient breeding on-site at Palm Beach Equine Clinic.”
Additionally, Palm Beach Equine Clinic incorporates the use of a SCA® CASA (computer assisted sperm analyzer) system into their reproduction work. An excellent way to improve quality control of a stallion’s sperm, the system evaluates sperm motility (velocity and type of movement), concentration (sperm count), morphology (sperm shape), DNA fragmentation (counting of fragmented sperm), vitality (live and dead count) and acrosome reaction, which is what ultimately allows the sperm to penetrate the egg.
From on-site experience to computer technology, Palm Beach Equine Clinic offers Dr. Atwood the opportunity to be at the forefront of equine reproduction, a place she has always strived to be.
“I wanted to come into a practice that had a developed program in place, but what is even more important to me is mentoring and teaching my technicians and clients about reproduction,” she said. “It is so important to make sure these techniques are shared and promoted for the continued success of veterinarians, owners, and most of all the horses.”
What is Embryo Transfer?
The most popular wave of advancement that has hit the horse sport industry over the past several years is the process of embryo transfer.
Embryo Transfer Process:
A donor mare and stallion, who hold the genetics of the future foal, are bred.
At seven or eight days of pregnancy, the embryo is flushed out.
A catheter is placed through the vagina and cervix, and an inflatable cuff on the catheter provides a fluid-tight seal.
A lavage fluid with surfactin (added to reduce the “stickiness” of the embryo and allow it to be extracted easily) passes down through a tubing system into the uterine lumen. As the fluid swirls throughout the lumen and drains back out through gravity, it collects the embryo, which is swept back out. The fluid and embryo pass out through the tubing system into and through an embryonic filter.
When the embryo is identified under a microscope, it is removed into a more enriched medium until the time of transfer.
The embryo is shipped to a recipient farm where a young and healthy surrogate mare of decent size receives the embryo. That mare carries the foal to term, but it is genetically created from the donor mare and stallion.
Why Breed Through Embryo Transfer?
While the process is fascinating, some may wonder why it’s necessary. According to Dr. Atwood, it relieves much of the concern owners have about sport horse breeding.
Advantages for Mares
“The gestation period for a horse is 11 months, so you’re only getting one foal per year when you breed traditionally,” she said. “This allows a mare to produce multiple foals per year, but it also allows that mare to remain in competition. This process can be done on younger mares with no interruptions to their competition and training schedules.”
Horses are now being bred at an ideal reproductive age while they are still in training, which is made even more valuable by the fact that advances in equine science has prolonged the longevity of horses. While 16 or 17 was once the age of an older horse, now it’s commonly seen as the age when horses are winning in the show ring. Thanks to embryo transfer, these horses can enjoy longer, healthy careers and still produce the talent of the future.
Dr. Atwood has seen embryo transfers become popular in dressage and polo, but she has begun to see it span all disciplines, saying, “At the start of the season, I had one farm and a few mares, but now it has quickly grown to several farms with multiple mares at each. It is really taking off because people now realize it does not remove their mares from competition.”
Advantages for Stallions
The process not only keeps mares competing, but it allows stallions to cross continents. Frozen fertilized embryos from working polo ponies in the U.S. are now being shipped to Argentina where they are carried by mares and then trained by some of the best polo trainers in the world. On the flip side, semen can also be frozen and shipped to the U.S.
“Stallions are collected, the semen is placed with an extender and high nutrient base so the sperm has something to use for energy, and then cooled slowly until it is frozen in liquid nitrogen,” said Dr. Atwood. “Once frozen, it is theoretically good forever. Last year, I bred a mare with 1991 semen and she was successfully pregnant!”
At first glance, Dr. Santiago Demierre appears to be a young veterinarian making a name for himself in the field of equine medicine. A closer look, however, reveals that he is not only that but also an exceptional example of diligence; he’s also working to become an extraordinary veterinarian while speaking a second language all in a country that is 5,000 miles from his home.
Born in San Antonio de Areco, a small town in the countryside outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr. Demierre is now a 32-year-old veterinarian working with some of the most cutting-edge veterinary technology in the industry at Palm Beach Equine Clinic (PBEC) in Wellington, FL. He attended vet school at Universidad de Buenos Aires and graduated as Medico Veterinario in 2012 before setting a goal to validate his degree in the U.S. While mastering the English language, he enrolled in a certification program called the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) through the American Veterinary Medicine Association and officially validated his degree in the U.S. in January 2017.
Today, Dr. Demierre is one of 40 veterinarians on staff at PBEC, which includes six boarded specialists and more than 80 technicians and staff members, making it one of the largest sport horse practices in the world.
Three things you may not know about Dr. Santiago Demierre:
1. Horses are in his blood.
Dr. Demierre: My father was a racehorse breeder and trainer, so while I was growing up I spent hours with him and the horses at the farm. I was always very interested in animals in general, not only horses, so even as a little kid I had the idea and the dream that I would be a veterinarian in order to be able to spend as much time with animals as I could. Now, I enjoy so many things about this work, but what really motivates me is the satisfaction I feel when I have a successful outcome on a case.
2. When the opportunity came to study veterinary medicine, he picked up and moved across the world.
Dr. Demierre:A fellow veterinarian who is a friend of mine, Dr. Eduardo Beccar Varela, contacted me with his nephew Dr. Axel Beccar Varela, who is a board-certified surgeon, and they offered me an externship at the clinic where he was practicing in Florida. I took that opportunity and began working in the U.S.
While here, a friend of mine, Gringo Colombres, introduced me to Dr. Scott Swerdlin, president of PBEC. He offered me an internship at PBEC in Wellington and I am now in my fourth season there.
The team at Palm Beach Equine Clinic is made up of great veterinarians and now great friends. There is always somebody from whom you can learn something new every day. Also, it is awesome to be in contact with the world’s top equine athletes. That is what I enjoy most about being part of the team at PBEC—working on performance horse cases. More specifically, I really like preventing and treating lameness in sport horses.
3. True to his Argentinian roots, he does some riding himself.
Dr. Demierre: I love being outdoors. When I am not treating patients or at the clinic, you can probably find me riding polo ponies. If I’m not there, I am either fishing, hunting, or enjoying some time off with my girlfriend.
Even after treating patients in both Argentina and North America, Dr. Demierre’s trans-continental bucket list is far from fulfilled. Next, he hopes to take the skills he has mastered at PBEC and validate his degree in Europe as well.
Want to learn more about the veterinarians of PBEC and what they have to offer your equine athlete or backyard companion horse? Call the clinic today at 561-793-1599 to learn more.