other featured patients
Buddy's trip to the MRI will be shown on national television next
fall during the "Your Horse's Health" segment of the show "America's
Horse," which appears on the Outdoor Life Network.
Buddy, who is owned by Washington State University, is lame, a
common difficulty for horses.
Large animal veterinarian Kenton Morgan, the host of the health
segments, was at the veterinary hospital at WSU Tuesday to film both
Buddy's experience and the wide array of diagnostic facilities
available for equine clients at the university.
Morgan works for the animal health division of Bayer Inc. One small
part of his work is explaining common horse health problems to the
general television audience. More of his time is spent educating the
Bayer sales force about new medications for animals and giving
seminars to practicing veterinarians on the same topics. The job is
both rewarding and demanding.
"My family has two horses, but I call them pasture ornaments because
we just don't get to ride them that much," he said.
Earlier in his career Morgan worked at a horse ranch outside
Hagerman, Idaho. He now lives in the Midwest but spends much of his
time traveling. He estimates that about 90 percent of his work is
involved with horses and their veterinary needs.
"His passion for what he's doing makes him good on camera, you can
just tell," said Darin Watkins as he watched the filming in
Watkins is a new public information officer for the vet school, but
he spent many years in television broadcasting before coming to the
Morgan is modest about his role as a TV host.
"It has taken some getting used to and I'm certainly still learning
as I go along," he said.
In jeans and a hat, Morgan looks the part of a horse doctor. His
experience becomes evident as he talks about equine health problems.
"Colic is the number one killer of horses, but the problem is that
colic is really just a symptom -- the condition can be caused by a
dozen different things," he said. "It's similar with lameness.
There's just a lot of different things that can cause a horse to go
lame. It's amazing how the good Lord put a horse's foot together,
and all that power and weight when they are running has to go
through their bones and the soft-tissue around them."
Morgan and his production crew came to WSU to highlight the
facilities available for horses at the vet hospital.
"We have what was the first MRI for horses in the world here at
WSU," university veterinarian Bob Schneider said.
Schneider was taped talking with Morgan, explaining the different
diagnostic techniques available in Pullman.
"Ultrasound works well for some things, but we can't see through a
horse's hoof with ultrasound waves," Schneider said. "The MRI is
very useful for equine cases. We have been able to diagnose lameness
problems, including ones we didn't know existed before the MRI
A proper diagnosis is crucial for the treatment of lameness. If a
vet knows the horse is lame due to tendonitis, then rest can help.
Other causes of lameness wouldn't be helped by resting the leg,
The MRI exam for a horse costs between $1,000 and $1,500, WSU vet
Russell Tucker noted. But that price is cheap when compared to the
exploratory surgery that used to be required to diagnose some causes
of equine lameness.
The vet hospital was happy to cooperate with the television crew
because WSU sometimes has difficulty getting the word out to the
public that the hospital is open for any and all animals in need of
"The biggest misperceptions are that people think we are only a
research facility or they think you need a referral to come here,"
vet hospital spokesman Charlie Powell said. "But we are open to the
public and we have people here literally 24 hours a day, seven days
While Buddy the horse woke from his exam, the WSU vets made a
diagnosis of a disruption or tearing of a ligament in his foot.
"The MRI is the only way we have to diagnose a condition like this
that's deeply buried in the foot structure," Tucker said.
Resting the foot is the treatment plan. Horses can't be put in wheel
chairs, so Buddy will be restricted to a small stall for several
weeks. Then gradually vet students will reintroduce him to walking.
If Buddy's progress is good, he'll be back in the pasture in time to
enjoy summer. And in the fall his doctors will be able to see
themselves and Buddy on television.