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Home101608 - U of M Eventer Care


University of Minnesota Equine Center Offers Unprecedented Care for Event Horses


by Lisa Borgia


October 16, 2008 - Three day event and other high performance horse owners take note; the facility that specializes in caring for your equine athletes continues to improve. The Leatherdale Equine Center, at the University of Minnesota, has expanded their staff with new surgeons and clinicians that have extensive experience treating problems associated with eventing.  Top riders already trust the Equine Center’s sports medicine Piper Clinic to care for their hard working event horses.  In the fall 2006 issue of Equine Connection Olympic rider Becky Holder said, “The University of Minnesota Equine Center is creating a new piece of history for the future of horses, equine owners, veterinarians, and all of us impacted by equine teaching, research, and service.”


The Piper Center sports medicine program has two innovative experts in lameness and surgery, Dr. Troy Trumble and Dr. Nicholas Ernst, who joined the program in the last year.  Dr. Trumble is an internationally recognized specialist with 12 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of the most complex and subtle of lameness. Completing his DVM degree at Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. and equine surgery residency at Colorado State University,  Dr. Trumble comes to Minnesota from Gainesville, Florida, where he cared for some of the top sport horses in the country.

 Drs Ernst and Trumble

Dr. Ernst joined the equine surgery team in November 2008. He most recently practiced at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and has a clinical focus on sports medicine. Horse owners find him to be highly professional, readily approachable and genuinely interested in their horse's welfare. Drs. Trumble and Ernst, as well as all the other surgical faculty at the Equine Center, are among the few in the region that are certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.


Dr. Trumble is quite enthusiastic about practicing at the Equine Center and states, “The Equine Center itself, as well as the people and potential, are many of the reasons that I came here.  The opportunities are endless.  The facility is second to none.  To my knowledge the only other equine clinic that has an arena, force plate, and motion analysis capabilities is Michigan State.  However, I do not believe that the technology there is being used on a day in day out basis clinically.  Both Nicolas and I use the force plate and motion analysis system on a routine basis.” 


Dr Ernst continues the thought with equal enthusiasm, “It will enable us to examine subtle changes that are hard for us to see with our eyes alone.  In addition, as we build up experience with the technology, we will continue to examine the data and attempt to learn from it.  We are able to examine horses under saddle as well to see what kind of interaction may be occurring between the horse and rider.  It will also enable us to really be able to give a much better assessment with regards to improvement of a horse during rehabilitation.  The next wave of the technology will hopefully allow us to examine horses at high speed on the treadmill as well as examination of horses over jumps.”


The huge indoor arena and specialized lameness assessment areas at the Piper Clinic make many evaluation options available when reviewing problems. Horses can be ridden or lunged in the arena, and trotted down a hard surface runway. High tech equipment (found at no other clinic in the region) gives the veterinarians a complete picture of the horse’s movement.  A force plate monitors hoof pressure and combines this information with frame by frame high speed gait analysis cameras to pinpoint the lameness.


The best in digital radiographs (x-rays) combining computer enhancement capabilities are available in a room adjacent to the arena and runway.  If the radiographs are not enough, state-of-the-art ultrasound, bone scans and the region’s most powerful MRI are readily available, as is the expertise to make an accurate diagnosis.


For other performance problems, like labored or noisy breathing, a high speed treadmill exercise test may be used. During the testing heart rate monitoring is performed to evaluate cardiac function and a videoendoscope projects an image of the airway onto a flat screen TV; showing every breath and swallow a horse takes at it moves through trot, canter, and full gallop.


The rehabilitation therapy room has an underwater treadmill, shockwave therapy, deep heating ultrasound therapy, and other options. Horses can regain their strength from soft tissue injuries in the safety of the warm water treadmill. Other therapies availalbe include stem cell therapy and electroacupuncture.


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