The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine dedicated a new equine sports performance complex June 6 that cost $600,000. Located behind the Large Animal Hospital, the new complex will be large enough to accommodate most performance disciplines, such as show jumping, dressage, western sports, and driving. The veterinary college sees approximately 500 lameness cases a year.
An architect’s rendering of the University of Florida’s new equine sports performance complex (Courtesy of University of Florida CVM) ||
Dr. Alison J. Morton, director of the Large Animal Hospital’s lameness and imaging service and an associate professor of large animal surgery, said the complex is “life-changing” for those who do a lot of performance horse lameness work.
“The biggest advantage it provides us is a safe environment to watch horses work under saddle. For performance horses with subtle issues, this is critical. The majority of the time, we would be looking for a musculoskeletal cause of decreased performance, but certainly this opens the door to more active examinations of horses with potential upper airway, neurological, and cardiovascular disease, too,” Dr. Morton said.
Another benefit, she said, is that practitioners and students can perform their routine in-hand examination on both hard and soft surfaces in a safe, enclosed area with comfort. Before, they had to work in direct sunlight on scorching summer days or work in the rain and wait for it to stop to continue with examinations.
The complex also allows for evaluation of issues that are apparent only during a performance, including subtle gait abnormalities and lameness, respiratory and cardiac issues, and neurologic problems. In addition to being a resource to the horse owners, the new complex will provide educational benefits for faculty and veterinary students.
The UF Equine Lameness & Imaging Service is the only such veterinary facility in the state and offers the following treatment capabilities: