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Skip Navigation LinksCVMBS Home > Veterinary Teaching Hospital > Mobile Equine Sports Medicine Brings Lifetime Care to Equine Athletes
Mobile Equine Sports Medicine Brings Lifetime Care to Equine Athletes
For Allison Dechant, not having to trailer her horses for a visit to the veterinarian means saving time that is better spent training and teaching her students and, most importantly, reducing the potential “risk, risk, risk” to her equine athletes every time she has to haul them in for care.
“I started working with Chris Kawcak about seven years ago when my horse, Regulus, was dealing with ongoing undiagnosed soundness issues,” said Dechant, a dressage trainer whose business, Allison Dechant Dressage, is based at the Indian Hills Equestrian Center south of Denver. “Regulus had been seen by multiple vets, but Chris immediately suggested a bone scan and discovered that Regulus had suffered a fractured pelvis. Chris identified the problem, remedied it with shockwave therapy and, from then on, I was able to turn a horse with significant behavioral issues into a Grand Prix dressage horse.”
Dechant is now a regular client of the new Equine Sports Medicine program at Colorado State University, a pioneer in this new veterinary field. Through this mobile service, CSU veterinarians provide unique, holistic, and tailored veterinary care to equine athletes from birth through retirement. The service brings digital radiography, digital ultrasound, extracorporeal shockwave therapy, laser therapy, and the latest advancements in repairing joint injuries, including bone marrow-derived stem cells, to the client’s doorstep. These diagnostic tools and treatment protocols address many of the primary musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, and medical issues that affect equine athletes.
“The goal of this sports medicine specialty is threefold: to provide comprehensive care to equine athletes from birth, through their career, and into retirement; to use our familiarity with each athlete to tailor a veterinary plan for them at their home; and to treat any illnesses or injuries while also restoring and rehabilitating the entire horse,” said Dr. Kawcak, head of the equine unit at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and an orthopaedic surgeon in the Orthopaedic Research Center.
Beyond offering the latest innovations, the range of therapies offered by the new service includes complementary therapies such as chiropractic and acupuncture strategies. Equine patients also can receive aquatic therapy with an underwater treadmill at the Orthopaedic Research Center at the Colorado State University South Campus. In addition to providing intimate, comprehensive services to equine athlete clients, the new program offers CSU veterinary students an exciting learning opportunity. Students are able to gain hands-on experience in an on-the-farm environment working with world-class athletes in their home stables. For students interested in equine medicine, this type of experiential learning is invaluable.
The equine sports medicine specialty was recognized only recently by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, and CSU’s program is one of only a few founding programs to be accepted into the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Kawcak is a charter member of the College, as are Drs. Wayne McIlwraith, David Frisbie, and Kevin Haussler.
“Dr. Kawcak has kept Regulus sound and saved that horse more times than I can count,” said Dechant, who has been training dressage horses professionally for 10 years and competing since childhood. “He’s had multiple fractures and tissue injuries during his life but, because of the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation available through the mobile Equine Sports Medicine service, Regulus was able to heal and return to competition. I just think they’re the best group of performance horse vets in Colorado.”
Regulus, a 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding, recently retired from competition as a successful Grand Prix dressage horse, and his job now is as an Advanced Young Rider mount, competing at Prix St. George level with a 19-year-old rider. For Dechant, who purchased him in 2002, he has been “the horse of a lifetime.” Regulus remains under the care of Dr. Kawcak and his team, who visit Indian Hills Equestrian Center twice a month to care for Regulus and other horses in Dechant’s care that are boarded at the facility.
The Equine Sports Medicine program is a collaboration between veterinarians in the Orthopaedic Research Center and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. For more information or to inquire about an
appointment, call (970) 566-3931.