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The Modern

Equine Vet

Holy Grail of Breeding

Getting mares to cycle earlier EPM widespread Diagnostic protocols for PPID Technician Update: TRUST

Vol 3 Issue 1 2014

Table of Contents

Cover story:

8 Holy Grail of Breeding: Getting mares to cycle earlier

Cover photo by Shutterstock/ Lincoln Rogers


EPM more widespread than thought............................................................................... 6 endocrinology

New diagnostic protocols for PPID...................................................................................12 technician update

Dr. Monty McInturff: Building blocks of the equine team......................................15 News

Senate passes mobility bill....................................................................3 Jeff Blea new AAEP president...............................................................3 Are microchips reliable?....................................................................... 11 AVMA to Congress: End soring! ......................................................... 17 Hallmarq conducts 40,000th MRI scan.......................................... 17

The Modern

Equine Vet Sales: Robin Geller • Editor: Marie Rosenthal • Art Director: Jennifer Barlow • Published by

percybo media  publishing

PO Box 935 • Morrisville, PA 19067 Marie Rosenthal and Jennifer Barlow, Publishers 2

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The content in this digital issue is for general informational purposes only. PercyBo Publishing Media LLC makes no representations or warranties of any kind about the completeness, accuracy, timeliness, reliability or suitability of any of the information, including content or advertisements, contained in any of its digital content and expressly disclaims liability of any errors or omissions that may be presented within its content. PercyBo Publishing Media LLC reserves the right to alter or correct any content without any obligations. Furthermore, PercyBo disclaims any and all liability for any direct, indirect, or other damages arising from the use or misuse of the information presented in its digital content. The views expressed in its digital content are those of sources and authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of PercyBo. The content is for veterinary professionals. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

news notes

U.S. Senate unanimously passes veterinary medicine mobility bill Congress passed the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (S. 1171), which removes a section from the Controlled Substances Act that prohibits veterinarians from taking controlled substances beyond their registered premises. Sponsored by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Angus King (I-Maine), this legislation will give veterinarians who treat their patients outside the clinic, the ability to bring and use controlled substances to provide pain management, anesthesia or euthanasia. “Most equine veterinarians provide care to their patients at farms or events, not in a clinic setting,” explained Jeff Blea, DVM, partner in VonBluecher, Blea, Hunkin Inc., Equine Medicine and Surgery, in Sierra Madre, Calif. and president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. “Our ability as doctors of veterinary medicine to relieve pain and suffering is essential to basic animal health and welfare. The passage of this bill in the Senate is extremely important to the animals we treat.” The new law would help ensure public safety and care for animals, according to Moran. “By legalizing the transportation and dispensation of controlled substances, this legislation makes certain veterinarians are equipped with the tools they need and is particularly important for practitioners who work in ru-

ral areas, conduct research or respond to emergency situations,” he said. “To be a veterinarian, you must be willing to go to your patients when they cannot come to you, and this means being able to bring all of the vital medications you need in your medical bag. We are pleased that the Senate has taken action to fix a loophole in federal regulation, which has concerned veterinarians over the past few years, and urge the U.S. House to swiftly follow suit,” Clark K. Fobian, DVM, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Since November 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration had been telling veterinary professionals that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) did not permit registrants to take controlled substances beyond their registered locations, such as a clinic or home in a veterinarian’s case. This narrow interpretation of the law was problematic for equine and other veterinarians who care for animals outside the clinic and also for those who live on a state border, therefore, providing care in two states, but only being registered in one state. The DEA had indicated that without this statutory change, some veterinarians were practicing outside the confines of the law. MeV

California racetrack practitioner to lead AAEP in 2014 Racetrack practitioner Jeff Blea, DVM, partner in VonBluecher, Blea, Hunkin Inc., Equine Medicine and Surgery, in Sierra Madre, Calif., was installed as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) during the association’s 59th Annual Convention in Nashville. Blea possesses significant expertise in ethics and policies affecting racetrack veterinarians and is a strong advocate for improving the racing model for both the horse and the practitioner through adoption of uniform rules among racing jurisdictions. Blea enrolled at Colorado State University, where he obtained his bachelor’s in 1989 and his DVM in 1993. After graduation, he was hired as an associate with Robert Story Equine in New Mexico where he cared for racing Quarter horses and Thoroughbreds at Sunland Park and Ruidoso Downs. The following year, Dr. Helmuth VonBluecher brought Blea into his Southern California racetrack practice, where he became a partner in 1998. Blea concentrates his practice on musculoskeletal issues and lameness diagnostics. Blea serves on the AAEP’s Finance and Audit Committee and as chair of the On Call Task Force. He previously served on the board of directors from 2003-2005 and on the Equine Welfare, Membership, Nominating, Professional Conduct and Ethics, Public Policy, Racing and Student Relations committees. In addition, Blea serves on the University of California, Davis Intramural Grant Research Committee and on the boards of the Southern California Equine Foundation, Dolly Green Research Foundation and California Retirement Management Account (CARMA). | Issue 1/2014


Horse Care for Life is a trademark of Intervet Inc. Copyright © 2014 Intervet Inc., d/b/a Merck Animal Health, a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. All rights reserved. Photography: Vince Cook. 7/13 50055 EQ-HC4L–1231-HOEN


This is it. Horse Care for Life™ is now online. It’s the easy online tool for every horse at every life stage and available only through the veterinarian. Here’s what Horse Care for Life can do for you and your clinic: • • • • •

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Take a look at And contact your Merck Animal Health representative to find out how your clinic can participate. | Issue 1/2014




more widespread than expected

UC Davis researchers track geographic distribution of horses with antibodies against EPM-causing parasites

A horse showing neurological disease. Courtesy of UC Davis


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Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), caused by two different parasites, is widespread throughout the United States, according to a recent study by veterinarians at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The single-celled protozoal parasite Sarcocystis neurona, which is shed in the feces of opossums is the most commonly recognized cause of this neurological disease in horses. However, this study found evidence that Neospora hughesi, the other EPM-causing parasite, first identified in California, is now being identified in horses throughout the United States. After obtaining 3,123 diagnostic submissions from 49 states, UC Davis determined that horses from 42 states were affected by parasites causing EPM. Horses in • 24 states tested positive for antibodies against N. hughesi and S. neurona. • 17 states tested positive for antibodies against S. neurona only, while • 1 state tested positive for antibodies against N. hughesi only. These results show a widespread distribution of the parasites causing EPM, therefore, veterinarians should test for antibodies against both parasites if they suspect EPM,

Map shows the distribution of the two different parasites that cause equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. Courtesy of UC Davis

according to Nicola Pusterla, DrMedVet, PhD, DACVIM, professor of medicine and epidemiology at UC Davis, and lead researcher of the study. “This study returned positive results from more states than we originally thought,” Pusterla said.

Clinical signs

The central nervous system (CNS) infection affects both horses and ponies, and is often progressively debilitating because the parasites can affect anywhere from the front part of the cerebrum to the end of the spinal cord. Clinical signs depend on where the parasites reside in the CSN. Manifestations include gait abnormalities, incoordination, ataxia, spasticity, muscle atrophy, depression, behavioral changes and cranial nerve paralysis. “As the recognized geographic spread of N. hughesi infections expands, we are encouraging horse owners about the benefits of the

advanced tests available at UC Davis to more accurately diagnose the disease. Overall, we had not been satisfied with the standard testing available, so we have spent the past decade developing and successfully validating an improved diagnostic tool for EPM,” he said. UC Davis created the SarcoFluor and NeoFluor tests, which are immunofluorescent antibody tests for both of the known causative agents of EPM. These tests provide a quantitative indication of EPM infection and provide greater sensitivity and specificity than the Western immunoblot test on serum samples. UC Davis’ tests also reduce the necessity to obtain cerebrospinal fluid to screen for antibodies against the two protozoal agents. More than a decade ago, researchers at UC Davis were determined to create better testing for EPM. To that end, the School of Veterinary Medicine started devel-

oping a better diagnostic tool. “Since its discovery in horses, EPM has posed a significant diagnostic and therapeutic challenge,” said Claudia Sonder, DVM, director of the Center for Equine Health at UC Davis. “These new diagnostic tools are a product of the team science that changes clinical outcomes for horses treated at UC Davis. For the first time, veterinarians can associate probability of EPM infection with positive tests results, and can rule out both organisms known to cause EPM with negative tests. This advancement in diagnostic capability is welcomed by all faced with this complicated disease.” The SarcoFluor and NeoFluor tests are available through the laboratory services at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. To learn how to use these tests and submit samples, contact VMTH laboratory services at 530-752VMTH or click here. MeV | Issue 1/2014


cover story

Holy Grail of Breeding –

– getting mares to cycle earlier B






Phillip W. Kirkland/Shutterstock

The duration of a mare’s anes-

trus is influenced by many factors from day length to body condition, and breeders continue to look for the Holy Grail — the best method to manipulate the mare so she transitions sooner and lengthens the breeding season. Dale L. Paccamonti, DVM, MS, DACT, professor of theriogenology, at Louisiana State University talked about some of the research being done to induce earlier ovulation at the recent 59th Annual Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners held in Nashville. “I predict that in the future what we will be doing is putting the mares under lights, and then perhaps, pretreating with an estrogen in January and following that up with a dopamine antagonist in a long-acting formulation to get the prolactin to rise, so we are stimulating that early onset of cyclicity,” he said. However, theriogenology researchers are not at a point where they can make recommendations, because they have yet to answer the questions: which one, which dose, how often, best route of administration, and when to begin treatment, according to Paccamonti. But early research looks like the addition of a dopamine antagonist will shorten transition and stimulate cyclicity. “We all know that mares are seasonally anestrus, and anestrus is







brought on by shortened days and increasing periods of darkness,” he said, but anestrus varies among mares in terms of when it begins and how long it lasts. Some mares even cycle year round, especially in lower latitudes.

In the future, breeders will be putting mares under lights and then, perhaps, pretreating with an estrogen followed by a dopamine antagonist. Light drives the show

“The photoperiod is a key player, and that is what drives the show. The light is detected by the retina and processed by the pineal gland. And the gland releases melatonin,” Paccamonti said. Longer nights and more darkness means the body produces more melatonin, and melatonin inhibits the secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) putting most mares in anestrus during the winter. When the days








get longer and brighter, the body produces less melatonin and more GnRH. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FHS) doesn’t change much throughout the year, but luteinizing hormone (LH) increases in the spring and the resurgence of LH is critical to the onset of cycles. In the spring, melatonin exposure decreases, GnRH increases, and follicular activity begins. And that is the beginning of transition. There are multiple waves of follicular activity, but the early follicles do not ovulate because the follicles are not yet producing sufficient estrogen levels. “Eventually the follicles become competent and they start producing estrogen, which stimulates the production of LH, and that mare will ovulate, the transition ends and cycling begins,” Paccamonti said. Turning on the lights and making the days longer is the best method for getting mares to transition earlier. Usually, starting in December, mares spend 14 to 16 hours in “daylight.” Some breeders give them a flash of light in the middle of the night to shorten the duration of melatonin. “Photoperiod remains one of the key tools we have at our disposal,” he said.

Additional players

Another key player is dopamine, which inhibits prolactin. Prolactin stimulates ovarian activity, so | Issue 1/2014


searchers have been looking at ways to manipulate endogenous prolactin, and dopamine antagonists someday might be the way to go. “If we can inhibit dopamine, we can allow the prolactin to build up and stimulate cyclicity. Normally, in the winter, prolactin is low. Use the dopamine antagonist, push dopamine down and let prolactin

Italian researchers looked at transitional mares that already were getting follicles ≥25 mm. They received sulpiride daily until they ovulated or for a maximum of three weeks. Among the treated mares, 80% ovulated within 30 days and 45% ovulated within 20 days. Another LSU study compared

"In my estimation, a dopamine antagonist will have some value in stimulating the onset of cyclicity, but I don't think we are at the point yet where I can tell you which one it will be." ­—Dr. Dale L. Paccamonti rise and mares will come into cyclicity earlier in the year,” he said. In several studies sulpiride (a dopamine antagonist) given intramuscularly has advanced ovulation by more than 21 days. Other studies have not seen the same effect, but the administration and the length of treatment was different, he said. A study that looked at mares that were primed with a photoperiod of two weeks before receiving IM sulpiride for up to 21 days cycled 2½ weeks earlier than controls. Researchers at LSU have had success using domperidone, another dopamine antagonist, after pretreating with estrogen. The mares that received the estradiol before domperidone ovulated about 45 days earlier than mares that just received the sulpiride. “There appear to be beneficial effects of priming these mares with estradiol,” he explained. In another study, mares given ECP, a long-acting estrogen that requires fewer injections, and then domperidone ovulated earlier than mares given the antagonist alone or estrogen and progesterone without an antagonist. 10

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sulpiride vs. domperidone in mares primed with ECP. Mares that were pretreated with ECP and received 1.5 g of sulpiride ovulated early. Those that received domperidone or low-dose sulpiride did not ovulate early.

Evaluating the evidence

When reviewing the studies, one should look at when the treatment was initiated, Paccamonti suggested. “You are going to get different results if you treat in January vs. treating a mare that is already in transition,” he said. When given later in the transition period, there are already so many confounding variables such as length of daylight that it can be difficult to sort out an effective treatment. In addition, the later treatment is started, the less time one will have to affect ovulation, according to Paccamonti. Regardless, some time under the lights will be essential. “If you don’t put the mares under lights and then try to treat them with drugs in early January, you are probably going to have to treat them for a long time to get a response,” he said.

Dose and frequency of administration, formulation, and other issues will affect the results, he said. The goal is to find treatments that require few injections. “We are using biodegradable microparticles with the idea that a single injection will have a longer duration of presence in the blood stream. Everyone understands that one injection is better than multiple injections especially if you start needing BID injections for 10 or 20 days, you will get a lot of resistance from the horse and the horse owners. “In my estimation, a dopamine antagonist will have some value in stimulating the onset of cyclicity, but I don’t think we are at the point yet where I can tell you which one it will be, domperidone, sulpiride or some analog that has yet to be developed, but I think this is where we are going. I would hope within five years, we will have a workable solution to get mares cycling even earlier in the year than we currently do.”

Other considerations

Other factors are important, too, such as nutrition and body condition, he added, so it is important to tell clients to make sure their broodmares are in good body condition. A couple of LSU studies have shown that mares in good body condition are more likely to continue to cycle throughout the year than mares with a low body condition score, and mares with good body condition scores also tend to go into cycle a good month sooner than mares in poor body condition. “We want mares to cycle early to get foals earlier. We also like to get mares cycling earlier to give us more opportunities to get her in foal, especially if she might have fertility problems. The earlier we can get her to start cycling, the more shots we have to get her pregnant by the end of the season,” he explained. MeV

news notes

Are microchips reliable method for horse identification?

Use high-quality scanners

The results were intriguing, she said. The “best” scanner (equipped with a digital signal processing function that filters interfering signals) detected and read all chips correctly when it was placed on the side of the neck where the chip was implanted and located nearly 90% of the chips when it was on the other side of the neck. However, the other two scanners performed considerably less well, producing correct reads in around 90% of the cases when on the same side of the neck. On the opposite side of the neck, the success rate ranged between 2025%.

“It is important that the scanners find and read the chips correctly in every case. We can only recommend the top-of-the-range scanner, which should ideally be placed on the side of the horse's neck where the chip was implanted,” Wulf said. However, Aurich adds: “Even the lowest quality scanner we tested, performed much better than traditional branding methods of horse identification.”

Photo courtesy of Vetmeduni Vienna

Until recently, horses were generally branded to be able to identify individual animals. Since this practice gives rise to long-standing wounds and brand marks cannot be reliably read, there has been a gradual switch toward the use of microchips. But how reliably can microchips be located and read, and are the horses injured by having chips implanted? Microchips are highly biocompatible and easy to read, at least with high-quality scanners, according to an article in The Veterinary Journal. Traditional methods of marking larger farm animals rely on branding with hot irons or ear-tagging. Dogs and cats are identified by the implant of a microchip transponder, and with few exceptions, it is now mandatory within the European Union to mark horses with transponders. Nevertheless, some sporthorse registries oppose the use of microchips because they believe that the rate of identification failure is unacceptably high, but no systematic examinations had been conducted to see whether chips are easy to decode. Manuela Wulf in the group of Christine Aurich, DVM, professor at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. (Vetmeduni Vienna) has examined the readability of microchips in more than 400 horses. She tested each of the chips with three different scanners. The scanners differed in diameter and field strength. The scientists tested both sides of the animals' necks.

Less injury than branding

The major objection to the use of branding relates to the pain and long-term damage it inflicts on the animals. Wulf and her colleagues investigated whether the use of microchip markers was any better. She looked closely at the site of chip implantation in 16 horses of nine different breeds and of various ages that had been submitted to Vetmeduni for postmortem examinations. In most cases, the chips seemed to have caused absolutely no ill effects: the two animals that were moderately affected had probably only been chipped recently and there had not yet been time for the wound to heal. “Not only is chipping a far more reliable method for marking horses than traditional methods of branding, we also found that it causes far less injury to the animals,” Aurich said. MeV

Microchipping is a better way to ID horses.

For more information: Wulf M, Wohlsein P, Aurich JE, et al. Readability and histological biocompatibility of microchip transponders in horses. The Veterinary Journal, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.04.028 | Issue 1/2014



New diagnostic protocols for

PPID in horses Experts say TRH stimulation test particularly useful in horses with early PPID

Photo courtesy of Dr. Nicholas Frank

Equine pituitary pars inter-


media dysfunction (PPID) can be detected earlier and more reliably if veterinarians use a new set of guidelines developed by the Equine Endocrinology Group, a body of leading veterinarians and researchers in the field of equine endocrinology. Similar to Cushing’s disease in humans but affecting a differ-

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ent area of the pituitary gland, PPID is associated with elevated levels of hormones in the blood. Horses with the condition often have a wide range of clinical signs depending on the stage of the disease, from loss of energy to muscle wasting, and the condition is more common in older horses. The group created a set of recommendations in 2011 to help

practitioners identify early vs. advanced stages of PPID, and their new recommendations adjust and refine testing procedures for a more thorough and accurate approach to diagnosis. Recommendations are based upon published research on PPID. “Our collective research has shown that horses can often develop this disease earlier in life,

Horse with Cushing’s disease. Notice the rough hair coat. Source: Courtesy Rushmie Nofsinger, Tufts

yet, earlier clinical signs don't always translate into positive test results,” said Nicholas Frank, DVM, DACVIM, professor and chair of the department of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and group coordinator for the Equine Endocrinology Group. “As research on PPID advances, we are identifying practical ways to improve early detection and diagnosis.” While the clinical signs of PPID are the same, the recommenda-

tions address changes to the diagnostic process. Previously, horses showing any signs of PPID were recommended to undergo one of two tests: 1. One test measures levels of resting adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) that is produced and secreted by the pituitary gland. 2. The other test is an overnight dexamethasone suppression test (DST) that causes the production of cortisol to decrease in healthy horses, but not those with PPID. The newly established guidelines retain the recommendation to measure resting ACTH concentrations, but the group has lowered the recommendation for using the DST. Recent research shows that the DST is no better at detecting PPID than other tests, and horse owners have concerns about dexamethasone inducing laminitis. Instead, the EEG group recommends a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test, which is particularly useful when horses with early PPID have normal resting ACTH concentrations. TRH causes the pituitary gland to release more hormones and ACTH concentrations increase to a higher level in horses with PPID. This test is easily performed on the farm by taking a baseline blood sample, injecting TRH intravenously, and collecting a second blood sample 10 minutes later. At present, the TRH stimulation test should only be used between December and June, which is the only period in which cut-off values have been established to interpret results and determine whether the horse suffers from PPID.

Diagnostic tests for Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction Recommended tests • Early PPID: Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test with ACT measured or resting adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) concentration • Moderate-advanced PPID: Resting ACTH concentration

No longer recommended • ACTH stimulation test • Resting cortisol concentration • Diurnal cortisol rhythm • TRH stimulation test with cortisol measured (without DST) • Urinary cortisol concentration • Salivary cortisol concentration

In addition to Frank, the Equine Endocrinology Group includes Drs. Frank Andrews (Louisiana State University); Andy Durham (Liphook Equine Hospital); Dianne McFarlane (Oklahoma State University); and Hal Schott (Michigan State University). The EEG meets annually to review diagnosis and treatment recommendations and discuss research. They also provide advice to veterinarians, specialists, research scientists, and the public with the mission of increasing awareness of equine endocrine disorders and improving the diagnosis and management of these conditions. MeV

For more information: For more information on the PPID diagnostic guidelines visit | Issue 1/2014


AAEVT Membership

AAEVT* membership is open to US and international equine veterinary technicians, assistants, practice managers, and support staff employed in the veterinary industry. It is also open to students of AVMA/CVMA accredited programs

AAEVT Membership • • • • • • • •

Bi-Annual Newsletter Weekly “HoofBeats” email NEwsblast Full access to, including the Career Center and the Library Up-to-date information on the AAEVT Discounted registration for AAEVT Regional Meetings and the annual AAEP/AAEVT Convention NTRA, Working Advantage and Platinum Performance Benefits The opportunity to participate in the AAEVT Online Certification Program or to become a member of the AEVNT Academy-Specialty in Equine Veterinary Nursing • Scholarship opportunities. • AAEVT’s Equine Manual for Veterinary Technicians (Blackwell Publishing 20% discount on purchase price) • Subscription to THE HORSE Magazine, compliments of Intervet Schering/Plough Opportunity to attend Purina’s Annual Equine Veterinary Technician Conference All Expenses paid!

AAEVT Objectives • • • •

Provide opportunities for CE, training, communication, and networking Educate the equine veterinary community and the public about our profession Inform Members of issues affecting our profession Assist in providing the best medical care to improve the health and welfare of the horse

AAEVT Online Equine Certification Program

• A three course, 10 module, equine-only online program offered through ACT • Geared toward Credentialed Veterinary Technicians, Assistants, Support staff, & Students • Areas of study include: equine medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, parasitology, laboratory, diagnostics, equine basics (breeds, wellness, husbandry,) diagnostic procedures, emergency medicine, restraint, pharmacology, surgical assistance and anesthesia, equine office procedures • A certificate of completion is awarded to those who: Successfully complete required courses Complete the list of required skills (per a supervising DVM who is an AAEP member) Attend an AAEVT regional CE symposium and participate in the we labs • Those individuals who successfully complete the programs will be recognized as AAEVT Certified Equine Veterinary Technicians / AAEVT Certified Equine Veterinary Assistants depending on their current designation. The certificate is recognized by the AAEVT and the AAEP but does not grant the credentialed status by the AVMA • For more information go to or call 800-357-3182

AAEVT Mission Statement: To promote the health and welfare of the horse through the education and professional enrichment of the equine veterinary technician and assistant.

For more information visit

*American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants

technician update

Building blocks of the equine team: TRUST By Monty McInturff, DVM Tennessee Equine Hospital LLP A well-trained equine technician is one of the most valuable assets an equine veterinarian has and that training starts with trusting each other and working hard for the patient, the owner, the hospital, the veterinarian and each other. The practice of veterinary medicine requires a team of both veterinarians and trained technical assistants. Many technicians I have worked with throughout my career have taken the time and effort to be trained and certified by higher institutions because they recognize what an awesome career equine medicine is. There are other valuable assistants that are trained on the job and have become incredible team members, as well. Both the certified technician and the on-thejob-trained assistant must have one main quality to be valuable for their team – trust! Trust is required in different areas including patient, care, business care, equipment care and team mate care. Let’s dissect the word Trust and unlock the meaning of its value. T stands for technical and is the foundation of a valuable assistant. Yes, a valuable technician knows his or her job. It might be a certain department, such as surgery where their technical skills in anesthesia can mean life or death for our patients. It could be in the laboratory where accuracy and efficiency are important for diagnosing disease. Or it may simply be in the thorough preparation of a joint for injection. Assistants must have a high

level of technical skills to get the job done in the best way possible. These technical skills are learned and focused on quality patient care that provides for business profitability. Yes, I said business profitability! I feel that assistants that are technically savvy can care for the patient, the equipment, the doctor and the business all at the same time. Assistants that have the foundation of being technical are valuable parts of the team and crucial for building a quality veterinary business. R is for responsible. Yes, a valuable technician is someone everyone on the team can count on. They are not the person that says, “that is not my job.” They are the person that says, “You can count on me!” It doesn’t matter if they like the task or not. If it is good for the patient and the business, they get the job done. The assistant that the doctor believes will get the job done is the one he or she will ask to do the job. If you feel you are not getting enough opportunities at your job, simply take responsibility for something and watch the other team members begin to count on you. Assistants who are responsible and own responsibility are valuable members of the team. U stands for unique, and it is the quality that makes a technician so special. Veterinary staff never know what they will be doing next. One minute they may be lying in the floor of the stall with an intensive care foal. The next, they are trying to control a scared mother who seems a little frantic, all while helping to calm down the worried owners of our patient. The unique piece is that this can occur all at the same time. Then when it is all over, they are

Qualities that inspire Trust





Technical | Issue 1/2014


technician update the ones helping to clean up, capturing the charges and scheduling for the doctor. Wow! Did you see how fast the picture changed? The valuable assistant can multitask and this is indeed unique. Valuable assistants are not worried about change but willing to step out of their comfort zone and be unique.

Source: Deb Reeder

S stands for selfless, which is the quality most difficult to achieve. A technician who is selfless understands the vision of the hospital and performs his or her job to help the team and put the business in a position for success. What do I mean by achieve the vision? It may require overtime, weekends or even skipping lunch to get the job done. The selfless assistant is eager to perform for the team. This is difficult to achieve because many of us think it is about us and the activity we are performing. Selfless assistants put themselves where they need to be even if it is not with whom or when they prefer to work. Assistants that are proud of their position and do what is best for the business instead of what is best

for them are valuable and considered selfless. T stands for together, the quality I like most in a technician. Yes, the veterinary technician works directly with the veterinarian. I cannot begin to tell you how much I rely on veterinary technicians and assistants. They keep me organized, focused and most of all, safe. Knowing the person you are working with and understanding the way things happen is valuable for a veterinary team. Having someone on your team that you enjoy being around helps the day to pass and makes you function efficiently. Working with a trained veterinary technician or assistant is not only important for success, but it is fun when everyone on the team understands the job at hand and respectfully works together. Trained technicians, whether certified or learning on the job are very valuable to a successful veterinary practice. The relationship the technician has with the patient, doctor and other team members is all focused around a single word: Trust. When a certified veterinary technician or even a well-trained veterinary assistant masters all five parts of trust, he or she turns into a more valuable member of any veterinary practice. Trust will take your career to a level of satisfaction money alone cannot match. You are valuable and as a doctor I appreciate you when Trust is part of the equation. Thanks for your trust! MeV

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Issue 1/2014 |

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Pass bill to end abusive soring, AVMA testifies PAST Act does not cost the federal government any additional money and is essential in helping to put an end to the practice of soring by abusive trainers.” Besides the AVMA, the legislation is endorsed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), and more than 100 veterinary, horse industry, and animal protection groups. For more information about soring, visit MeV

Hallmarq Conducts 40,000th Standing Equine MRI Scan Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging recently recorded its 40,000th scan using its Standing Equine Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner. The scan was taken of an 8-year-old show jumper as part of a reexamination at the Clinique Equine de Livet in SaintMichel-de-Livet, France, to determine if the animal could return to a full training schedule after being treated for front limb lameness. The 40,000th Standing Equine MRI scan not only marked a pinnacle achievement for Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging, but also indicated that the horse’s rehabilitation had helped heal his injuries. “Hallmarq’s Standing Equine MRI offers veterinarians an easy, reliable and clear diagnostic tool that provides the veterinarian with much needed information, and does not put a horse at risk by requiring general anesthesia,” said Dan Brown, BVSc, MRCVS, business development director at Hallmarq. “Our system is safer for the horse and easier for the veterinarian.” Standing Equine MRI can be a good tool for diagnosing lameness problems in horses, offering a diagnostic rate equal to that of high field MRI under anesthesia, but without the health risks associated with anesthesia. Horses do require sedation and handling by an experienced technician. Currently, there are 21 machines available in North America with recent additions in Texas and British Columbia. MeV

Photo courtesy of Hallmarq Veterinary Imaging

Deliberately inflicting pain to exaggerate the leg motion of gaited horses through the practice of “soring” is unethical and inhumane and must be stopped, an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) official told a U.S. House subcommittee on Capitol Hill. In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, AVMA’s Chief Executive and Executive Vice President Dr. Ron DeHaven urged Congress to pass HR 1518, the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, which will provide the regulatory oversight needed to protect the well-being of our nation’s walking horses. “As the former administrator to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service charged with overseeing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, I have witnessed the long-lasting and damaging effects that soring has on horses and feel that this bill is necessary to stop a culture of abuse that has existed for more than 40 years in the walking horse industry,” DeHaven testified. The PAST Act would amend the Horse Protection Act to: • Make the actual act of soring illegal; • O verhaul the USDA’s enforcement system to remove the conflicts of interest with the horse industry self-regulation; • Ban incentives to sore; and • Improve the penalty structure against violators. The Horse Protection Program, which sends USDA officials to shows to oversee horse inspections for signs of soring, has faced budget constraints. Although the program has done an excellent job with the limited resources, if Congress is serious about protecting the health and welfare of horses, it “must take a strong stand against the abusive practice of soring and commit the necessary funding for the USDA to adequately enforce the HPA,” DeHaven said. US Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) introduced the PAST Act and the bill has wide bipartisan support with more than 200 cosponsors in the House, and its companion legislation in the Senate (S. 1406) has 26 cosponsors. “Far too often, those involved in showing the Tennessee Walking Horses have turned a blind eye to abusive trainers, or when they do take action, the penalties are so minor, it does nothing to prevent these barbaric acts,” stated Whitfield. “The

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