KER’s Veterinarian Cares for Thoroughbred Retirees at Old FriendsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 30, 2014
As the staff veterinarian at Kentucky Equine Research (KER), Dr. Bryan Waldridge never knows what his day’s duties might include. He could start by checking a small hematoma on a horse that was kicked while cavorting with his pasture buddies, or drawing a blood sample from one of the geldings participating in a study of glycemic response to different feed formulations. A phone call could send him across the county to tranquilize a newly purchased yearling research horse that’s never been loaded on a trailer and isn’t too keen about the idea. Before lunch, he might be asked to scope a couple of horses for gastric ulcers, surrounded by a group of research interns who are eager to see the inside of a horse’s stomach displayed on a video screen.
Despite a hectic schedule of caring for the horses at KER’s research facility, Dr. Waldridge always makes time for a duty that’s not listed in his official job description. He is the head veterinarian for Old Friends, a non-profit retirement facility for Thoroughbred horses. Founded in 2003 with two horses and a single paddock, Old Friends is now home to 100 retired horses on a 92-acre property. Horses such as Game On Dude and Amazombie had long and lucrative careers at the track or breeding farm, while others are celebrated for careers on film or other notable accomplishments. However, visitors to the facility will never know the difference, as each of the equines at Old Friends is cared for with equal skill and commitment.
Dr. Waldridge doesn’t discriminate as he provides veterinary management to the likes of Gulch, a Breeders’ Cup champion, and Ogygian, the oldest resident Thoroughbred at 31 years of age. He frequently sees arthritis, Cushing’s disease, and other conditions common to senior horses, and decides on treatments that will be the most helpful in keeping these older equine comfortable. Many of the horses live out in spacious turnout paddocks fulltime, a management practice that encourages exercise and also helps to minimize respiratory problems.
Two dietary supplements, Nano-E and Bio-Bloom PS, have proved particularly helpful to the retired horses at Old Friends. Nano-E provides vitamin E in a highly bioavailable form. This potent antioxidant supports proper function of the immune, cardiovascular, circulatory, and neuromuscular systems for horses like Kudos, a million-dollar winner who suffers from a neurologic condition.
Bio-Bloom PS contains biotin, methionine, iodine, and chelated zinc at levels shown to improve hoof growth. This supplement guarantees that Ogygian, who sired 23 stakes winners and 11 graded stakes winners, has the nutrients he needs to maintain strong, healthy hooves.
Dr. Waldridge says, “I really enjoy working with the horses and people at Old Friends. These horses have given much to the fans of racing. I get to work with champions, Breeders’ Cup winners, and Kentucky Derby horses that I once watched race on television, and now I see them face to face.”