Veterinarian, Equine Advocate Leitch Dies

Veterinarian, Equine Advocate Leitch Dies

Dr. Midge Lietch

Midge Leitch, VMD, Dipl ACVS, a former staff member of the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center and outspoken opponent of soring Tennessee Walking Horses, has died after a long battle with cancer. She was 67 years old.

Leitch was retired from the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., where she was affiliated with the section of sports medicine and imaging as a radiology clinician. Earlier in her career, Leitch was a trained surgeon. In her private practice, she focused primarily on performance and sport horses.

"For those who knew her well, she was sometimes hard as hell to like and even easier to love,· said Dean Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, chief of the New Bolton Center's section of surgery and Leitch's close friend and colleague. "She was absolutely one of a kind and will be terribly missed.”

Aside from her day-to-day duties, Leitch served on the U.S. Equestrian Federation's Equine Drugs and Medications Committee and traveled widely as team veterinarian for the U.S. equestrian teams competing in the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea; Atlanta, Ga.; and Sydney, Australia. Most recently she was known as a horse welfare advocate, specifically addressing so-called unwanted horses and soring.

David Foley, executive director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), said Leitch served on that organization’s board of directors and on the AAEP's Equire Welfare Committee. She also chaired the AAEP's task force that developed the organization's recommendations for putting an end to the practice of soring.

“She was a tremendous contributor to the AAEP,” Foley said. “She was a friend to the horse and a personal friend to me, and we’ll miss her very much.”

Teresa Bippen, president of Friends of Sound Horses, said Leitch was “forthright and courageous when speaking of the abuse of the Tennessee Walking Horse. No one was going to convince her that (soring) was 'training.' Dr. Leitch helped provide the science that was needed on this egregious animal welfare issue (and) her efforts will not be soon forgotten.”

Memorial plans are pending.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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