Referring Veterinarians

Winner's Circle

One of the primary missions of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center is to provide pre-eminent equine health care services for the region. The center’s faculty and staff take great pleasure in returning sick and injured horses to health. The success stories below are examples of the unwavering commitment our equine healthcare professionals have made to healing horses and other members of the equine family.

Aladdin’s Story

Aladdin

Aladdin had an award-winning 2013 season after recovering from a ligament injury with the help of Dr. Jennifer Barrett.

A huge thank you to Dr. Jennifer Barrett and all the staff at EMC for their outstanding help in the treatment of my horse Aladdin. I just want to let you know he has made a full recovery from his injury and after I began jumping him again last summer he is back to competing over fences. This is fantastic, as my local vet's initial words to me when she saw his suspensory injury were "this type of injury in a hind leg is usually career ending for jumping horses." He went on to win Reserve Champion at the 2013 Arabian Sport Horse Nationals in the Half-Arabian Amateur Jumpers and a National Top Ten in the Half-Arabian Amateur Owner hunter over fences. It was always my goal after his injury to make it back to competing over fences at the national level. These were his first ribbons he has ever won at nationals after sitting out 2012 due to his injury and finishing just out of the ribbons in 3rd place in 2011.

I thank Dr. Barrett for her advice and encouragement to give him plenty of time to recover from his ligament injury. It certainly felt like forever while he was on stall rest and then rehabilitation but it certainly paid off. Here are some pictures of him competing this last year. Thanks again for your help and all the staff at the Equine Medical Center.

Kimberly Graves

Buck's Story

Buck

Buck in the summer of 2011 at his first jumper show after treatment for a hind superficial digital flexor tendon injury. He won both classes and champion for the division.

This is my horse Buck. In 2008 he suffered a laceration (approx. 1/2-3/4 of the way through) to his right hind superficial digital flexor tendon. I was devastated, this horse is my best friend and I have owned him for nearly 10 years. Prior to the injury Buck successfully competed in eventing/jumpers/hunters along with tons of trail miles. About six months into the injury my vet recommended that I take him down to the EMC to try stem cell treatment. I talked with Dr. Barrett and Buck became her first patient to try treatment on this type of injury. She couldn't guarantee that it would work but she was willing to give it a try and was hopeful that he would be able to be ridden again. The rehab was very slow and tedious but about a year after the injections I was able to sit and walk him around. Very slowly over the next two years I increased his work load. He started to perk up and was happy to be working again. About three years after the injury, I started cross rails (prior to the injury he jumped up to 4'6"). My old horse was coming back to life in front of my eyes. This picture was taken in the summer of 2011 at his first jumper show back after the injury. He won both classes and champion for the division. I could not be happier with the results or the care that was given from the staff. Last summer I evented him successfully and the spark was back in his eyes. We both grinned from ear to ear. I send a heartfelt "thank you" to the staff and Dr. Barrett!

Kelly Watson

Shirley's Sweet Smile's Story

Shirley

Vicki named her new filly after her mother, who passed away recently. Here, just about a week after leaving the EMC's intensive care unit, Shirley's Sweet Smile enjoys some outdoor time with her mom.

It seemed like – for Princess' first foal, Shirley's Sweet Smile – whatever could have gone wrong with her entry into the world did go wrong! From our not knowing that Princess was even pregnant until six weeks before delivery (that's another story!), to the fact that Princess did not have any milk, to the fact that the filly was born with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (otherwise known as a "dummy foal"), the deck was stacked against this baby from the start. But, each and every one of her caregivers had the best interests of this mom and baby at heart, and all along the way, when additional services were needed, each person acted on that. Dr. Stevens, for instance, knew we needed to go to the EMC so that Shirley could be fed. At the EMC, Shirley was a "mat baby," but I am convinced that the human interaction and care she received from everyone made the difference in her recovery. The veterinary staff at the EMC was tremendous in providing regular and complete information; those updates were so reassuring. Truly, this is a miracle baby, and I'm so relieved and pleased with the outcome. I love these horses dearly and am delighted that they are still with me.

Vicki Cocuzzi
Alexandria, VA

Only Blue Bling's Story

Bling

Only Blue Bling, now a five-year old Quarterhorse, has resumed her training after undergoing surgery at the EMC to repair a serious wound overlying her fetlock.

I had only owned my beautiful horse, "Only Blue Bling," for three weeks before she suffered severe lacerations to her right hind leg while being transported in a trailer without leg wraps when she was in the Midwest at a training facility. She was treated by veterinarians in Wauconda, Illinois, and also underwent surgery and extensive rehab there, so we thought she’d be good to go back into training. Unfortunately, she must not have fully healed from the original injury, because, not long after she got here, she knuckled over at the fetlock and opened the skin overlying the fetlock joint. The wound was very extensive and unsightly. The wonderful family in Maryland that took over Bling’s training rushed her to the Equine Medical Center, and she was immediately taken to surgery to repair the extensive wound overlying her fetlock. Dr. Adams and Dr. Brown did a fantastic job with Bling and their amazing work is the reason she’s back to the beautiful moving girl she once was! Now – not quite a year later – she’s in full training and thriving! I’m so grateful for the fabulous care Bling received at the EMC. And, as a television reporter, I must say I could not have scripted a better outcome!

View a video of Only Blue Bling to see how she’s doing less than a year after her surgery.

Jill Rappaport
Animal Advocate Correspondent, NBC’s Today Show
New York, NY

Tana's Story

Tana

Montana King, a 28-year old gelding described by his owner as “a character,” is back at work (and play) after suffering a fractured jaw.

Montana King—otherwise affectionately known to us as Tana—is by far the smartest, most versatile horse I have ever known … and he’s my best friend. Last spring, Tana got a new field mate—a high-spirited filly, who kicked him in the mouth and fractured his jaw. His teeth were actually hanging out of his mouth! Given the seriousness of the injury, our vet recommended we take Tana to the EMC, where Dr. James Brown assessed the fracture and outlined treatment options. The type of jaw fracture Tana had is typically repaired under general anesthesia, which—given Tana’s elderly age—was a concern to us. Dr. Brown recommended standing fracture repair using sedation and local anesthesia, which is a relatively new approach to treating his condition. Remarkably, Tana had his first meal within hours and came home soon after. By the fall, he was back to trail riding and judge pleasure rides–just as good as new. Tana’s doing great and we’re all very appreciative of the gentle and expert care our special guy received from Dr. Brown and the rest of the EMC staff.

Heather Hudson
Fairfax Station, VA

Frito's Story

Frito

To start 2011 in a pleasant way, Frito and Robin enjoy a trail ride.

We want to thank the entire staff at the Equine Medical Center—especially Drs. Desrochers and Beebe—for the outstanding care you provided to Frito. We can’t tell you enough how much we appreciate everything you did. Your knowledge and diligent efforts turned a very dire situation into an astounding recovery. We are so impressed with the genuine caring and compassion displayed by you and the staff. It is quite evident that you are all truly committed to your mission of providing the best medical care for your patients. We also want to thank you for the exceptional communication you provided. It helped us immensely to be continually updated on Frito’s condition and your planned course of treatment for his pneumonia. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have Frito back home and doing so well. Without your exceptional efforts, this would not be the case.

Robin Urbach
Michael Vansickle
Blain, PA

Spydermann's Story

Spydermann

As a yearling, Spydermann underwent a very delicate surgical procedure at the EMC to resolve a neurological problem.
Photo: Kara Hite

As a fifth-generation horse in our breeding program, Spydermann represented high hopes for competing nationally in dressage. But, as we were initiating his training as a yearling, we saw that he’d occasionally stumble while on the lunge line. After our vet checked his basic health and found no problems, we were referred to the EMC. The clinicians there performed a thorough evaluation, which showed that two of his vertebrae were compressed. This meant the problem was neurological and would be exceedingly difficult to treat. Dr. Sullins counseled us about a very delicate surgical procedure that would offer about a 70-80% chance that Spydermann would improve. I actually watched them perform the procedure and I was extremely impressed with the precision and teamwork of the surgical team. Spydermann’s fully recovered now, and he’s performing incredibly well—so well that he’ll compete in the U.S. National Sport Horse competition next fall. Just as importantly, it’s very evident that he’s happy now that he can do his job. We’re extremely pleased with our experience at the EMC and we’re so glad to still have this special horse in our lives.

View a video of Spydermann to see how he’s doing about eight months after his surgery.

Bob and Mary Rombs
Liberty Arabians, Ltd.
Suffolk, VA

Rowdy’s Story

Rowdy

A 10-year old Rowdy participates in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, DC.

For years, many people knew me only as “Rowdy’s Mom,” but that was fine with me! Rowdy was my Missouri Fox Trotter with the most delightful personality you can imagine. Rowdy has had two bouts of colic that prompted our vet to refer us to the Equine Medical Center. Both times, Rowdy was treated with the best medical care available and he came out of both situations beautifully. During that time, many people wondered why I would go to the trouble and expense to have Rowdy treated, but I just knew I owed it to him because he always gave me 100%. Rowdy’s now 24 and living on a friend’s farm, where he still works as a teacher for kids from Loudoun County through a recreational outreach program ... he’s always a hit! He’s still got that fantastic personality and the kids love him. I’m grateful that the EMC was here for him when he needed expert medical treatment, and I feel good that I did what I could to see that he stayed with us. It’s very gratifying to see him still working and contributing.

Vicki Sadler
Marriottsville, MD

Apollo’s Story

Apollo

Apollo, who came to the EMC for surgery to repair a lacerated deep digital flexor tendon, is now back to work; he has no trouble making his jumps.
Photo: Danielle DeLapp

I want to express my sincere thanks to the staff of your facility. In May, 2009 we brought my son’s horse, Apollo, to you with a lacerated deep digital flexor tendon. You performed surgery and he spent 10 days there; your staff worked with us after discharge to develop a rehabilitation program. My son drove 100 miles roundtrip each day to handwalk Apollo while he was on stall rest. Apollo started back under saddle at 5 minutes walking in September, 2009. On the doctor’s advice, my son slowly rehabilitated the horse throughout the winter. This photo is from a recent VHSA show where the pair competed in Children’s Hunter 2’6” to 2’9”. I think you can see that Apollo had no trouble with the jumps and is heading to 3’ in the near future. This will be higher than he jumped before the surgery! While I would never wish this experience on anyone, much good has resulted from it. I am so grateful that we have your facility available to us. The skill of your staff, the dedication of my son, and the strong will of Apollo have given us an experience of a lifetime. My son and Apollo are a “tight” team. Thank you!

Kathey Tonnacliff
Woodbridge, VA

St. Barths' Story

St. Barths, or 'Nike'

The 9-year old Thoroughbred St. Barths, otherwise known as Nike, is pictured here with Hannah Burnett after winning the CIC** at Stuart Horse Trials.
Photo: Richard Thompson

St. Barths—or “Nike”—is a wonderful horse owned by Richard Thompson. Nike was the last horse he and his wife, Vita, purchased together before, sadly, Vita passed away in 2008. Nike was doing well at training and preliminary events when, in the summer of ’07, he started having issues in his hind end. One day he developed a high fever, so we rushed him to the Equine Medical Center for an emergency evaluation. Dr. Desrochers did a complete neurological exam and diagnosed him with EPM. He spent two weeks in the isolation unit on a course of treatment that included IV fluids and Marquis. He came home very skinny and wobbly; we couldn't ride him for 6 months. Eventually, we started ponying him, then riding him, and while I was at the Olympics last year, my student, Hannah Burnett, took him to his first event, 14 months after the illness started. They continued doing very well together, and he showed no trace of illness. In July, Hannah and Nike won the CIC** at Stuart Horse Trials! He's a very talented horse, and I'm grateful to the EMC for helping him get back in good health. We're very fortunate to have this facility so close to our farm.

Karen O'Connor
The Plains, VA

Belle Etoile’s Story

Belle Etoile

At six days of age, Belle Etoile sustained severe injuries in an attack by two dogs. She was treated at the EMC and made a full recovery.

Belle Etoile was six days old when she was attacked by two dogs while in the paddock with her mother. She sustained severe lacerations to both hind legs and behind her front legs and she lost a large amount of blood. Within 20 minutes of her arrival at EMC, she’d been X-rayed, her IV was started, oxygen was administered via a nasal catheter, and other supportive measures were taken. Three hours of tedious surgical repair followed and then she spent several days in ICU. Once she was home, she continued to recuperate well, and she recovered fully with only minimal scarring (considering the extent of her injuries). The treatment she received at EMC was outstanding; the staff was fully prepared to receive her when she arrived, and her stay in the hospital was marked by meticulous attention from everyone—which extended to her owner as well. She is now a mature mare, has earned a few ribbons in Pleasure classes, and has no apparent residual effects for what was certainly a dreadful experience. Thank you, EMC.

Elizabeth R. Carmichael, MD
Rixeyville, Virginia

Perfect Timing’s Story

Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing, a 10-year old Arabian, at his home in Montpelier, Virginia with his newest fan, Ayden E. McKenna.

Perfect Timing – or P.T. as I call him – is just a great horse; he’s a special member of our family. Unfortunately, a few years ago, P.T. was diagnosed with periocular sarcoids, which is a type of cancer. His were near his left eye. Our family vet worked to remove the cancerous growths, but they returned, so we were referred to the Equine Medical Center. We definitely had a few choices of where to go, but we had heard that the EMC was a good direction to take. We found that to be very good advice, because P.T. was treated there with great results. Dr. Sullins performed surgery on P.T. and also prescribed chemotherapy. While there were some complications, everything turned out fine. We were kept informed almost daily, which was very reassuring. We relate our experience with the EMC to others this way: we hope your horse never has this kind of problem, but if he does, don’t hesitate to go to the Equine Medical Center.

Calvin Stanley
Ashland, VA

Otis’ Story

Ottie

Otis, an off-the-track nine-year old Thoroughbred gelding, has been retrained to compete in hunter classes.

One morning, Otis – or “Ottie,” as we call him – began exhibiting signs that he was in severe pain: he was trying to trot with his nose touching the ground and snaking his head from side to side. Also, he would repeatedly drop to the ground, roll, and get up again. A call brought our vet out to the farm, but the vet was not optimistic about Ottie’s chances, given the amount of pain. We then took Ottie to the Equine Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with impaction colic. Because Dr. Barrett said he did not require surgery at the time, Ottie had his stomach pumped, was given mineral oil, and hooked up to multiple IVs. We’ve never seen so many people so delighted to witness a horse pass feces! Four days later, Ottie came home, very happy to return to his buddies on the farm. All we can say is “thank you” to the vets and assistants at the EMC who – with their amazing work – saved our “baby” when his outlook on life was very bleak. Every time I look at my Ottie, I’m so glad he’s still with us. Words cannot express our gratitude to the clinicians and staff at the EMC.

Lydia and Ann Carpenter
Affinity Farm
Aldie, VA

Onyx’s Story

Onyx

Onyx, a 2-year old Shire, here with his proud and happy rider

Onyx gave us a good scare. One morning, he was not eating and had started to roll on the ground. After some initial treatments provided by our vet, we were advised that we should take Onyx to the Equine Medical Center to get some blood work and other exams done. We didn’t get to the Center until 11 pm, but I got calls all through the night from the doctor, who kept us up to date on everything they learned from their tests, which indicated that Onyx had colic and needed surgery. Onyx came out of the surgery happy but groggy, and even though he had a few post-operative problems, he came through really well. He recently completed his green horse training and our daughter is looking forward to showing him in the local horse shows (he is beautiful!). While this was an emotional roller coaster for us, we are so pleased that – with the great care he received at the Equine Medical Center – he made a full recovery.

Bill Bassett
Port Republic, MD

Invite Moonlight’s Story

Invite Moonlight

Invite Moonlight, now a 10-year old Quarterhorse, took top honors at the 2007 NSBA World Championship, held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Larry Williams

Invite Moonlight was diagnosed with lameness from a bone cyst in her left front coffin bone ... obviously, not news a horse owner wants to receive! But, fortunately, the specialists at the Equine Medical Center offer a cutting-edge treatment plan that involves stem cells. The EMC’s specialists collected a sample of Invite Moonlight’s bone marrow from which millions of stem cells were grown. The stem cells were injected into her coffin joint to help stimulate healing and provide pain relief. Throughout the treatment and recovery—which only took a few months—we and her trainer followed the EMC’s medical advice to the letter. In almost no time, she was better and stronger than ever—I sometimes refer to her as “bionic!” Just recently, she placed in the top ten in the Senior Western Pleasure Division at the AQHA World Championship Show. She’s back into full training and will be participating extensively in this year’s show circuit. Her medical treatment at the EMC made a tremendous difference for her; we are thrilled with the results.

Cecilia Hylton
Hylton Quarterhorses
Gainesville, VA

Jack’s Story

Jack

Jack on his first day of turnout after colic surgery.

Jack’s my best friend. So when the barn manager called to say she thought Jack was collicking, I was very concerned and asked her to call in our veterinarian. After giving Jack a sedative, the vet and I discussed Jack’s care options: either we’d go to the Equine Medical Center or wait a few hours to see if he would improve. Jack seemed to understand us: when he heard “wait,” he jerked his head up, looked at me with his expressive eyes, and started pawing. Even though he was sedated, he clearly did not want to wait! At the EMC, Jack was quickly and thoroughly examined and immediate surgery was recommended. That’s when I learned Jack’s colic was far worse than we initially suspected. Fortunately, the procedure went well. It took a while for Jack to recover, but recover he did! I’m very thankful to everyone at the Center for the incredible care and expeditious service they gave us—not only that day but in subsequent visits. Without them my best friend would not be here.

AnneMichelle Johnson
Pleasant Ridge Farm
Germantown, MD

Unfortunately, almost a year after Jack's colic surgery at the EMC, he suffered additional colic episodes that he was not able to survive. Rest in peace, Jack (a.k.a. Chapter Eleven; 3/17/94-4/17/09).

Dark Equation’s Story

Dark Equation

Dark Equation, left, a 7-year old gelding trained by Doug Fout, won the Turf Writers Handicap at Saratoga after undergoing laser surgery at the EMC.

I’ve worked with Dark Equation for almost 2-1/2 years and he’s always responded well to our training regimen. But not long ago, we noticed that his performance was just not up to par. We took him to the Equine Medical Center, where they ran him on their high-speed treadmill while performing an endoscopy. The results of that diagnostic procedure showed Dark Equation had some constriction in his airway passage. Within a couple of days, he underwent laser surgery on his soft palate and pharynx, and the rest—as they say—is history. Three months later, he managed a come-from-behind win, and took the Turf Writers Handicap in Saratoga Springs. He won by half a length and he brought in a huge purse, which was very gratifying for all of us. Dark Equation is a fantastic horse; he’s got great heart and he’s so strong. Clearly the surgery he underwent at the EMC helped him reach his full potential. And that’s really what it’s all about—for horses, trainers, and owners.

Doug Fout
Thoroughbred Trainer
Middleburg, VA

A.J.’s Story

A.J.

Her injuries healed, A.J., an 8-year old thoroughbred bay mare, is now training for fox-hunting.

We suspect A.J. was kicked while out in the pasture, which resulted in a fracture just above her left hock. Her injury worsened to the point where I knew she had to be taken to the Equine Medical Center—even though I had never visited the hospital before. From the minute we arrived at the EMC, everything went very, very well. A.J. was taken immediately for X-rays and examinations. Dr. Barrett told me the fracture was infected and that there were many small bone chips at the site. A.J. underwent a 2-1/2 hour standing surgical procedure, so she did not have to be completely anesthetized. I think the doctor pulled out a dozen or more miniscule pieces of bone! I’m glad to report that A.J. has recouped just beautifully; she’s now training to return to fox-hunting. Thank you, EMC, for your superb medical services and your friendly, helpful, cooperative staff. A.J. and I could not have been treated better.

Sue Lipsey
Run Fox Run Farm
Hume, VA