Beyond House Calls

If you have been at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio, this week, you've seen them there. If not, you'll have about 30 more chances to meet the Equine Sports Medicine veterinary team members within the next year.

The team is comprised of veterinarians and technicians who traverse the country each year setting up shop at major horse shows to serve the show exhibitors' horse heath care needs. The veterinarians' "shop" is in one of the two tractor trailers emblazoned with the Equine Sports Medicine logo. Alan Donnell, DVM, a private practitioner in Pilot Point, Texas, which is also the home base for the two rigs, and Kurt Heite, DVM, also based in Texas, spearheaded the idea in 2002.


One of the Equine Sports Medicine team's rigs.

For years, Donnell worked large shows such as the Congress and the American Quarter Horse Association World Show. For the most part, he practiced out of a stall. As he acquired more equipment, he began to outgrow his 12-by-12 clinic, and the rigs were set into motion.

Donnell and Heite originated the idea for the trailers, but they are accompanied in their venture by four associates (David Frisbie, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS; Joe Carter, DVM; David Dutton, DVM, Dipl. ACVS; and Emily Sandler, DVM) and several other veterinarians and technicians who work a select number of shows each year.

"We usually try to work around our schedules," Donnell said. "All of my clients are performance horses, and most of them are gone around this time anyway. It just makes sense to travel to some of these big shows, because I wouldn't have any horses to work on at home anyway."

Donnell explained the rigs' capabilities are up to par with most veterinary hospitals. He said, "Everything is set up just like in a hospital. We can handle emergencies: colic, lacerations, lameness evaluations, pre-purchase exams, and blood work. We can do digital X rays, ultrasounds, shock wave therapy--just about anything that doesn't require general anesthesia, we can do it."

In 2006, the Equine Sports Medicine rigs traveled to 33 shows across the United States. But Donnell said they plan to cut back on that number next year. Working 16-hour days for weeks at a time can be daunting.

Some days the veterinarians will treat as many as 60 horses, "but on average we'll probably see about 40 horses a day," Donnell said.

For more information or a schedule of shows where the Equine Sports Medicine trucks will be, call 940/686-2118. If you're at a show where they are and need assistance, call 940/465-4587.

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for .

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