News & Events

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.

C’est La Vie's Story


C’est La Vie (stable name Ricky) has been ridden by 14-year-old Isobel McDiarmid for the last five years. Isobel and her parents Jamie and Jen McDiarmid are fortunate to live at Audley Farm in Berryville, a beautiful, historic farm covering 3,000 acres of rolling pasture in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Some time ago, during particularly wet weather, Ricky was referred to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center by Dr. Sabina Taylor of Taylor Made Equine Services, who had been treating Ricky for an abscess in his left hind which was causing severe lameness. Isobel’s parents were understandably very concerned about their daughter's much loved pony who didn’t appear to be improving after stringent treatment at the farm.

Ricky's medical team at the center discovered and removed a sub-solar pocket of pressurized pus, and Ricky was on the road to recovery. "The clinical presentation is consistent with a chronic abscess that has already begun to track up the hoof wall," said Norris Adams, clinical assistant professor of equine lameness and surgery.

The center's podiatry service, which offers premier veterinary care with an advanced specialty farrier Mr. Paul Goodness on site, provides a unique opportunity for diagnosis and treatment of simple as well as complicated podiatry issues in horses. The center’s veterinarians and farriers have access to advanced imaging modalities, and with plans in the near future to build an indoor arena for lameness diagnosis, the service will be unparalleled in the northern Virginia area.

Ricky, who in a previous life had competed as a pony jumper in United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) recognized shows, ridden by Christie Shapiro has gone from strength to strength after his treatment at the center and the pair regularly compete locally. On July 4, 2016, Ricky and Isobel were placed joint first in the beginner novice class at Last Frontier Farm in Berryville, Virginia. "We can't thank the center enough for giving Isobel the opportunity to continue competing Ricky. He is a very special and talented pony who is very dear to our hearts," said Jamie McDiarmid.

Aliea's Story


This is Aliea at Regionals Last year.  I’ve owned and trained Aliea since she was green broke at 4 years old.  She will be 17 years old in June 2016. This is my first journey above First level, so Aliea and I have revisited “proper” collection several times with multiple trainers.  Bless her sweet heart, I’ve earned USDF Bronze and Silver and Silver Musical Freestyle with her winning several Regional Championships and placing 7th in US Dressage Finals for 4th level Musical Freestyle. She is a bit downhill but has a lovely hindquarter and is an honest mare with a vivid imagination, which I’m told come from her sire, Art Deco.  We have been competing in 4th level and Prix St. George for several years.  The first year, we were just happy to complete the test without errors and get 6s and 7s. Then, I wanted "more" and it looked like we were stuck as Aliea was fighting the collection and straightness needed to increase our scores and continue onto higher levels.  I had her SI, back and poll treated and regular adjustments but it kept coming back.  

So, like many riders, I felt that my horse had more potential but my abilities, age, or injury may prevent us from reaching higher, which was very frustrating.  In February, Dr. Hancock of Rector Town Equine was recommended to another horse at our barn so I asked her opinion.  She noticed Aliea’s teeth looked straight but were not, something my vet (a very reputable, and knowledgeable person) had missed.  When I needed a dental specialist, my vet recommended Dr. Brown.  He was able to fit Aliea in quickly and accessed her main problem as the lower incisors with a very mild diagonal bite.  So, the past several years of “failure” and stress for Aliea and I appears to have been a result of her teeth making true straightness impossible for the past several years.  Thus, the head tilting and avoiding with the hindquarter had a second reason and probably caused the back and SI on her and me!  One hour at the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, and Dr. Brown had us on the right track.

I’ve been riding for two straight weeks now and her teeth adjustment is helping her.  Before, she avoided being straight and fully engaging. I was constantly resetting her which is impossible in the higher level tests.  It also lead to SI and poll issues which though treated didn’t seem to solve the problem.  Now, with her teeth straight, Aliea is able to achieve true straightness and is developing a better top line as well.  She’s not sure why she has to work harder and develop more carrying power - but she can do it and is offering less resistance daily.   I wish I would have had her teeth assessed years ago by a dental expert when we started having the problems. Dr. Hancock recently reassessed Aliea and found only minor tension versus the major asymmetry of her body previously.

Amazing what a little adjustment can do!  We have some re-training in progress but Aliea is realizing it doesn’t hurt her to carry herself and we are both making progress toward self-carriage and straightness.

Thank you,
Sonya Hunt, Broadlands, VA

Heidi's Story


My horse Heidi is a 16-year-old Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred mare. Despite some conformation issues, Heidi has always been an extremely healthy horse with no history of colic. However, on Monday, March 14, 2016 Heidi began suffering from colic-like symptoms and was immediately taken to the Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center when she did not respond to any of the normal colic treatments that our vet was giving her.

I personally was not there when Heidi fell ill, as I was three hours away at college. I received a terrifying call from my parents that afternoon telling me that they had arranged to bring Heidi to your facility.

Dr. MacDonald and her team quickly determined that Heidi was suffering from something extreme enough that she required surgery to attempt to save her. At this point, Dr. Brown was notified to perform emergency surgery on Heidi. During the surgery, he discovered that part of her small intestine had become trapped in a small hole in her omentum. If Dr. Brown had not persevered, Heidi would not have survived.

From the moment that my parents and Heidi entered your facility, they were treated with the utmost compassion, kindness, and respect. The medical team's concern that Heidi not suffer, regardless of the outcome, was truly appreciated. There is no doubt in our minds that Dr. Brown, Dr. MacDonald, and their team saved Heidi's life.

I cannot thank the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center enough for saving my best friend's life.

Samantha A. Mooney, Fayetteville, PA

Skippy’s Story


I am ever so grateful to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center for resolving the sinus polyp that plagued our 15-year-old palomino/paint gelding, Go Skipa Golden Star (Skippy). Our vet asked us to adopt Skippy from a family who could no longer care for him. On pick-up day, the former owner walked Skippy to the trailer, surprised as we were that Skippy had a huge, odorous, necrotic mass clogging up and hanging from his left nostril. I took Skippy straight to our vets, Dr. Joan Prasse and Dr. Shauna Riggs, of Paradocs Animal Hospital, Locust Grove, Virginia where Skippy spent the night. Our vets were able to extract some of the mass, and sent it off to histopathology. The results only confirmed the mass was not cancerous, but offered no conclusive information about what it was. Weeks later, Skippy's nostril "gave birth" to the rest of the mass, which weighed about half a pound, looked like a hunk of meat, and was dense, like a tongue. Skippy seemed to be "mass free" for about 10 days, then we noticed a new mass swelling in his left nasal passage and nostril, which continued to grow even larger than the first mass we had "inherited" Skippy with. As this new mass was happening during the holidays, I sent an e-mail with pictures to the Equine Medical Center on 28 December 2015, asking what "it" was and what could be done to correct "it."

On 4 January 2016, I received a call back from EMC's Dr. James Brown. He surmised that Skippy had a sinus polyp. I contacted my vets with Dr. Brown's information, and they then coordinated with Dr. Brown, shared x-rays and medical notes, and scheduled Skippy an appointment at EMC for 14 January 2015. The number of EMC interns who flocked into the examination room to take pictures of Skippy's mass evidences the unusual size and severity of Skippy's problem, and highlights the outstanding benefit and service Dr. Brown, his interns, and the rest of EMC's medical and administrative staff provided to so efficiently resolve and relieve Skippy's obvious discomfort and to restore his health.

On 14 January 2016, I was greeted upon arrival by Veterinary Intern, Dr. Laia Reig, who helped me get Skippy weighed (984 lbs) and into the examination room. There we met Dr. Brown, who briefly examined Skippy, and called for x-rays. Dr. Brown shared with me the x-rays, and very patiently, clearly, and thoroughly explained Skippy's issue, pointing out where the problem was and what would be needed to resolve it. Dr. Brown and his staff were very reassuring. I was very comfortable and confident leaving my Skippy in their care. When the surgery was over, Dr. Brown called me right away to relay that it was successful, appeared to have removed all of the polyp, and that Skippy was resting comfortably, had a healthy appetite, and seemed much relieved to have had the mass removed. Skippy remained overnight for observation, and was cleared for return home the next day, 15 January. Skippy was cleaned up, had a head bandage that looked like a mask, and was released with replacement bandages, medicines (antibiotics plus some bute for pain), and care instructions for the required 2-week stall rest. Veterinary Intern Dr. Laia Reig walked me through all of this, and patiently ensured that all of my questions were addressed.

The ladies in the EMC office provided tremendous assistance to quickly complete the surprisingly minimal paperwork required for the surgery. The efficiency of the EMC staff made it all so easy. Best of all, the prices were incredibly reasonable, which should be great reassurance (for any other horse owner whose horse may develop such sinus polyps) that reasonably-priced care is available.

Skippy and I send a really big thank you to Dr. Brown, Veterinary Intern Dr. Laia Reig, the nurses, and the administrative staff, for all you have done for Skippy.

Most gratefully,
Karen Maskew (and Skippy!!)

Little Peanut’s Story

Little Peanut

I have owned my little palomino mini mare, Peanut, since she was three months old. Although she is tiny, she packs a lot of personality into that little body. And, if there's one thing that Peanut usually loves, it’s mealtime. However, this wasn't the case in mid-November when I received a call from Dr. Linda Neimeier of Haymarket Vet, the owner of the farm where Peanut lives, saying “Peanut isn't feeling very well this morning. She isn't hungry for her breakfast, and she isn't acting normally." Of course, I jumped in my car and headed to the farm. When I got there, I saw that Dr. Neimeier was right - Peanut was lethargic and clearly uncomfortable.

Little Peanut had very recently been treated for a corneal abcess, and the pain from this, combined with her medication and a long trip down to NC State for treatment, just hadn't agreed with her. For two days and nights, she was treated on the farm for colic, but she wasn't improving. The decision then was made to bring her to the EMC.

We were met upon arrival by Dr MacDonald and Dr. Reig. After their initial assessment, it was thought that Peanut probably had a bowel impaction. For the next week and a half, she was treated with IV fluids, NG lavages, Lidocaine, and Dextrose as this gradually resolved. Throughout this entire process, I knew that Peanut couldn't have been it better hands. Whether it was Dr. Khatibzadeh texting me at midnight to inform me of some signs of improvement, Dr MacDonald coming by to give Peanut a quick hug and check on her, or Dr. Reig just coming by to give us words of encouragement, it felt as though the whole staff was rooting for her to get better. The nurses were kind enough to tolerate my constant presence, and allowed me to participate in her care by taking Peanut for her walks. Even the Receptionist, Audrey, and the lab staff, Lisa and Karen, came to visit Peanut.

Thanks to the wonderful care that we received at the EMC, Peanut recovered fully, and was able to go home on Dec. 3rd. She is back with her buddy, Rugby, and is enjoying life on the farm again - long walks on the trails, lessons with her trainer, and, of course, her mealtimes!

Robin Jacobs
Centreville, VA

Twilight’s Story


“Twilight” is the granddaughter of my mom's very first horse. She is now 15 years old, has evented through preliminary, and is currently being leased as a dressage horse by Jill McKay.

In the summer of 2013, she started having slight nosebleeds. Initially, no one was very concerned but in January of 2014, the drainage from her left nostril was escalating, and by April her breathing was compromised. She had surgery to remove a very large ethmoid hematoma, and spent the next 6 months fighting infections and continued drainage from her left nostril. By October, we knew that something still wasn't right; her left nostril closed completely (again). Twilight was then taken to Dr. James Brown at EMC, and the options were to either to put her through another surgery - this time via a bone flap - or put her down.

Dr. Brown was great in thoroughly discussing all the options and making sure we had realistic expectations. We decided to give her one more shot, and she surpassed everyone's expectations. With regular follow up visits and checkups (Dr. Brown was able to catch an infection early) as well as continued cleanup of some areas that had settled after surgery, Twilight did incredibly well after having a tumor larger than anyone had seen - twice! - and a subsequent infection, no one expected her to make it back into full work.

We can't thank Dr. Brown and his team enough for the incredible care we received during each visit to EMC. We always felt comfortable and well looked after, and Dr. Brown had incredible patience with all of our questions! Twilight is now back in full work, training hard at 3rd level dressage, and is back to being her bossy self.

Rachael Marie Livermore
James Madison University

Lexi Anna’s Story

Lexi Anna

In August of 2013, our three-year old mare Lexi Anna came up very lame after throwing a shoe. Originally thought to be an abscess, Dr. Schmidt of Keswick Equine Clinic was able to diagnose a bone sequestrum in her coffin bone upon a second x-ray. Dr. Schmidt recommended that we immediately take Lexi to Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center for surgery. Dr. White met us immediately upon arrival, developed a plan of treatment, and conducted the operation the following day to remove the infected bone. Lexi remained at the Equine Medical Center for three weeks, with excellent care from Dr. White and Dr. Bogers, and the wonderful support team, followed by three months of stall rest recovery at home.

At the time, Dr. White assured us that Lexi should recover fully, with no future limitations. Well, two years later, this has certainly proved true. Lexi began her dressage competition career this summer at Dressage at Lexington, with scores up to 77%. She went on to win third place in her division at the Region 1 USDF Regional Championships, qualifying for the USDF National Finals. In a large and very competitive division, Lexi scored a 68% and was the ninth placed Training Level Adult Amateur Horse in the nation.

We remain deeply grateful to the Equine Medical Center for saving Lexi, and allowing her to go on to have such a great start to her career!

Eliza Slone
Thaxton, VA

Jasper the Miniature Donkey’s Story

Jasper the Miniature Donkey

I had owned “Jasper,” a miniature donkey for three months when I returned home one day to find him down in the field, in a terrible state with multiple abrasions and lacerations. Jasper had been attacked by a dog.

After phoning my friend and neighbor Elizabeth Wagner and my veterinarian Dr. Emily Lantzch, we stabilized Jasper as best we could but decided that Jasper’s injuries needed further immediate attention. Elizabeth helped me lift Jasper into the back of her truck and we travelled as quickly as possible to the Equine Medical Center in Leesburg. I spent the entire journey leaning out of the rear window of the truck all the way to the center to make sure that Jasper remained safely tucked in his blanket.

When we arrived at the center, Dr. Brown and his support staff carefully lifted Jasper in his blanket and gently carried him into the building. After the initial exam Jasper was found to have severe abrasions and lacerations, a left mandibular fracture and a suspected olecranon fracture on his left front leg. Jasper’s physical condition was described as critical; he was hypothermic and due to his condition was not immediately able to go to surgery.

The following day after being stabilized, Jasper underwent surgery for a mandibular fracture repair. His left front leg, although badly lacerated, was thankfully not fractured. We were all relieved that Jasper did really well after surgery and was successfully reintroduced to his feed.

Staff at the center took great interest in Jasper’s recovery; visiting his stall to offer words of encouragement. Three days later Jasper was well enough to return home.

At home we set up a padded area for Jasper in my garage so that he can be closely monitored and for ease of treatment. Jasper is working on his recovery and is happy to be back on his feet visiting his many friends on the farm.

Tammy Little
Newville, PA

Brownie's Story


Brownie, a 17-year-old Shetland mare owned by Mrs. Sandra Crippen, the wife of the late Macks "Jack" Crippen, owner for many years of Reston Zoo (formally named Reston Animal Park), was brought to the Equine Medical Center by her farm manager Tom Schaaf with severe colic symptoms.

"Brownie has a long history of colic related to her reproductive cycle. On this particular occasion, I found Brownie in a lot of pain, throwing herself on the ground, and generally in a lot of distress," explained Tom. "We arrived at the center after our veterinarian Dr. Melinda Freckleton referred Brownie after it was clear that she could not be made comfortable at the farm. We were received by Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald and her support staff and Brownie was immediately assessed."

After an ultrasound was performed, it was suspected that Brownie was suffering from a granulosa cell tumor of one of her ovaries. The decision was made to perform a bilateral ovariectomy. Two weeks later, Brownie returned to the center and underwent a successful surgical procedure by Dr. James Brown, and returned home.

At Mrs. Crippen’s farm in Great Falls, Virginia, which a menagerie of animals call home, Brownie shares her field with five other Shetland ponies, a couple of which have also made the journey to the center for treatment. Tom has a great affinity and love for these special ponies and speaks very highly of the treatment that they have received at the center. He describes his experiences as "first class, red carpet treatment akin to a human hospital standard."

Interestingly, Tom’s brother is John Schaaf, a member of the first graduating class at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and now a veterinarian working out of his own practice in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Epic Arrival’s Story (The Million Dollar Horse)

Epic Arrival

Carol Good, a longtime resident of Philomont, Virginia, has ridden since the age of five, competing on the local horse show circuit, as well as in steeple chasing and flat racing.

Known to her friends as “Cookie,” she has owned and ridden a lot of horses over the years, but no horse has touched her heart as much as a 16.2 hand chestnut gelding named “Epic Arrival” (stable name “Eppie”). Also dubbed “The Million Dollar Horse” by his owner, Eppie was bred with the intention of being a show hunter, but his numerous medical issues meant that he never made it to the show ring, but instead spent a lot of time confined to his stall.

His checkered past began not long after he was born when he was referred to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center by Carol’s veterinarian, Dr. Paul Diehl, for enteritis, inflammation of the intestine, indigestion, and colic in May 1996. Nine months later, he was admitted again for an umbilical hernia and to be castrated.

In February of 1997, surgery was performed to repair a fracture of the fourth metacarpal splint bone sustained during a ‘wild moment’ in his paddock. In June of 2006, Eppie’s real issues started when he was admitted to the center for chronic colic. Incredibly, he has had a total of three colic surgeries at the center, which he has managed to overcome. Now at the ripe old age of 19, he is living out his years at his home, Wind Swept Acres in Philomont, giving great pleasure to his loving owner.

Carol spoke candidly of her experiences, “I want to thank my primary care veterinarian of many years Dr. Paul Diehl and the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center for the collaborative care that has been pivotal to my horse’s survival. The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center is a wonderful place with dedicated and caring staff whom I credit for my horses continued well-being.”

Carol Good
Philomont, Virginia

Aladdin’s Story


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 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


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


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


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


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


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


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, 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


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, 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 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


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