WSU Equine Transport Allows Hospital Access in All Weather

Snow storms, icy conditions, fog, avalanches, rock slides, and other hazardous conditions can make traveling Washington State's mountain passes in winter a daunting and undesirable task, especially when hauling a sick or injured horse.

To avoid the elements, western Washington equine clients can choose to use Washington State University's (WSU) transportation service for horses. The service is also handy for those that can't take time off work to bring their horse to Pullman for advanced veterinary care.

The WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital has offered this popular service for more than 30 years. For $315 each way, WSU van driver Rick Fredrickson picks up horses at Donida Farms and Emerald Downs Racetrack in Auburn, and transports them to and from the veterinary teaching hospital in Pullman.

"Horse owners are really appreciative of this service," said Fredrickson, who has been a driver and equine staff member at the college for more than 20 years. "The horse van is such a convenient service for people on the west side of the state."

Despite the weather, the van runs year-round on an every-other-week schedule, and features a six-horse trailer with a stallion and mare/foal stalls.

The college also has boarding arrangements for horses on both sides of the passes in case of severe weather or sudden pass closures.

"I have to chain up a lot in the winter, and once I got stopped on the west side last winter from a pass closure, but we have hold-over places arranged with people in case this happens," Fredrickson said. Luckily for him and the horses, he was able to make it through after a short wait when the pass reopened for a one-hour window, after which it closed again for several days.

"Usually the trailer is full with six horses both ways, and we run it every other week. I have hauled every size from ponies to draft horses. The stalls in the trailer are extra long, and each horse has a hay bag," Fredrickson explained. He admitted he sees a lot of tears from owners who are sentimental about seeing their horses off without them. He said many owners send treats along with their animals.  

For more information about WSU's equine transportation service, referrals, or directions to the pick-up points, contact Lynette Kinzer at the equine appointment desk at 509/335-0711 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The main pick-up point for horses west of the Cascade Mountains is at Donida Farms. Directions are posted on the WSU Equine Web site.  

Reprinted from the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine Equine News Winter 2009 issue.

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