Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Acquires Unique, State-Of-The-Art Mobile Equine Veterinary Unit

The Equine Program at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University has acquired a state-of-the-art, mobile equine veterinary diagnostic and therapeutic clinic, the only one of its kind in the United States.

"This unit is a remarkable medical tool that will allow us to provide quality medical care at regional equine events, " said Dr. Gayle Trotter, professor of Clinical Sciences at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "We can provide local veterinarians access to immediate diagnostic and therapeutic equipment that can be used on their cases, and give our students an important new teaching venue."

Dr. Joe Stricklin, who recently joined the staff at Colorado State as one of the equine field service veterinarians, developed the unit. After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Stricklin saw a change in the needs of the horse-owning public, with more care being needed on site. This unit will meet those needs, operating as a full-service veterinary clinic on wheels and be equipped with the latest technology available anywhere in the country.

"Not only do we have the latest in diagnostic equipment at our fingertips, but all of the radiographic and ultrasound images can be recorded on videotape, which owners can take back to their home veterinarian," Stricklin said. "Or we can transmit any of these images over the unit’s phone lines, via the Internet, directly to the home or consulting veterinarian."

More importantly, injured or sick horses can be treated immediately, without the added pain–or possible further injury–of being moved by trailer to another location.

The mobile unit also is equipped with a cooking area, shower and sleeping quarters and can comfortably house four people. These domestic facilities mean the team can cover greater distances, remain on site for three- and four-day events and can be staffed 24 hours per day. Staff usually will be comprised of a veterinarian, a technician and one to two veterinary students.

Trotter said that having the mobile unit enhances the hospital’s teaching mission, which is to offer the best and most comprehensive veterinary medical education possible. Experience in handling problems facing horse owners, trainers and veterinarians at equine competitions is very important in helping to prepare future equine veterinary practitioners.

"This experience is invaluable for veterinary students," Trotter said. "Fieldwork is a far different setting than that of the hospital. Being on-site at a major competition has a whole different set of demands. Students gain the experience of handling a variety of situations from routine bloodwork to emergency treatment preparing an equine patient to be moved to a surgical unit."

The mobile clinic is equipped to enable:

  • Conventional radiographs: allowing veterinarians to take images of horses’ bones and joints for the diagnosis of injuries;
  • Ultrasonography: provides images of tendons, lungs and abdominal structures which can be projected onto a viewing screen for client and student benefit;
  • Videoendoscopy: a small camera attached to different pieces of equipment records images for display on a television screen; and
  • Thermal Imaging System: displays differences in surface body temperatures, enabling the veterinarian to determine areas of inflammation.

Other treatment options available include:

  • Theraquine: an electrical stimulation unit which, when placed on the injury site, generates electrical impulses that can increase blood flow to the site and thereby improves healing;
  • Equine AeroMask: allows for accurate delivery of inhalation drugs for horses with problems such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; and
  • Ice Horse Cold Therapy: Cold therapy aids in the reduction of inflammation. This system allows the cold therapy to be applied evenly and at a set temperature.

For more information, contact Trotter or Stricklin in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, at (970) 491-0377.