New Equine Performance Centre

The University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, has unveiled plans to build a new multi-million-dollar Equine Performance Centre for diagnosing and treating problems in performance horses. The facility is designed to rival those of the New Bolton Center, Cornell University, University of California, Davis, and other equine diagnostic centers in North America.

"The idea of a Performance Centre is to bring together a broad variety of diagnostic techniques and abilities in one place," said Chris Brown, DVM, acting director of the University of Guelph's Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "We need to have a facility separate from the actual hospital for these otherwise healthy horses who are being examined for loss-of-performance issues."

Creating the Equine Performance Centre will be a five- to 10-year project with several phases. The first is underway--a building adjacent to the existing large animal hospital to house eastern Canada's first veterinary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit, scheduled to open in late 2004. "Guelph will be one of only two places in the world with an MRI unit with this level of sophistication," Brown said, "the other being at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, England."

The $5-million (Canadian) new installation "will be usable on all animal species," says Brown. "We anticipate that dogs will be the most frequent MRI recipients, but we have designed the space specifically with horses in mind. There'll be an equine induction and recovery stall adjacent to the magnet, so we won't have to anesthetize horses in the large animal hospital and wheel them all the way down the hall."

Along with the new MRI and the nuclear scintigraphy unit already in the large animal hospital, Brown said plans include a suite for full-scale video endoscopy, thermography, digital radiography, and an ultra-sensitive ultrasound capable of cardiovascular scans "as well as extremely detailed tendon scans.

"Through the university, we can tap into research and teaching to justify our expenditures," said Brown. "In total, we've got almost $100 million on the table for OVC through various applications and grants right now. We plan to get the very best (equipment) and be a leader in the field."

Construction on the first phase, which will completely refurbish the diagnostic labs, pathobiology, and biomedical sciences facilities at OVC, is likely to begin a year from now after some intensive architectural analysis. "Eighty percent of this whole complex will be refurbished or rebuilt," said Brown.

About the Author

Karen Briggs

Karen Briggs is the author of six books, including the recently updated Understanding Equine Nutrition as well as Understanding The Pony, both published by Eclipse Press. She's written a few thousand articles on subjects ranging from guttural pouch infections to how to compost your manure. She is also a Canadian certified riding coach, an equine nutritionist, and works in media relations for the harness racing industry. She lives with her band of off-the-track Thoroughbreds on a farm near Guelph, Ontario, and dabbles in eventing.

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