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Q: What is the University of Minnesota Equine Center (UMEC)?

It is an overarching program for teaching, research, clinical care and community outreach for advancing the health, wellbeing and performance of horses.
In Teaching : Undergraduate equine education as an equine option in the Animal Science program is offered through the University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS)
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with an equine track is offered through the College of Veterinary Medicine. Fully 80% of veterinarians practicing in Minnesota are graduates of the U’s veterinary college.
In Research : The focus of UMEC research is on equine genetic diseases, muscle diseases, arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders, infectious and metabolic diseases and nutrition.
In Clinical Care : UMEC clinical care comprises all aspects of equine health and has been greatly strengthened by the completion of the new Leatherdale Equine Center facility that contains The Piper Clinic for sports medicine and reproduction.
In Continuing Education and Community Outreach:The UMEC and the University of Minnesota Extension Service offer horse owners ongoing education programs. Continuing education programs for veterinarians are provided as well.

Q: What is the Leatherdale Equine Center?

 A: The Leatherdale Center is a new 60,000 sq ft facility that supports the growing University of Minnesota equine program. It houses the Piper Performance Clinic, the indoor Barenscheer Arena, and the Nutrena Conference Hall.
This new building was designed specifically for horses and includes: 33 box stalls; a 100 ft. by 200 ft. indoor arena and a lunge arena; conference room; custom-designed clinical space for lameness evaluation and diagnosis; a wing for reproductive medicine programs and a rehabilitation therapy area with an aquatreadmill. A wide range of new technology, including digital x-rays and a high-speed treadmill are available to horses at the Center. The facility also features a specially designed loading and exercise area. Advanced services include a powerful MRI.
The Leatherdale Equine Center is the metropolitan site for the We Can Ride program that offers therapeutic riding and driving to children and adults living with disabilities.
The Nutrena Conference Hall overlooking the Barenscheer Arena is open to equine organization to hold meetings, clinics and demonstrations.
The Center now also conveniently houses the University of Minnesota Mounted Patrol horses.

Q: Why was the new Leatherdale Equine Center constructed?

A: Home to nearly 500 state and local horse clubs, Minnesota has more than 155,000 horses--the ninth largest horse population in the United States. The number of horses treated at the Veterinary College in Minnesota has also grown exponentially, and there was a strong need to build new facilities for the state’s burgeoning horse population.  The University of Minnesota answered this need by constructing the Leatherdale Equine Center on the St. Paul Campus in 2007.

Q: Is this center focusing on specific horse health and care areas?

A: This Center is designed to complement current facilities, offering new technology, expanded classroom and laboratories, and new or expanded programs for the equine community. Comprehensive sports medicine, encompassing nutrition, performance, and overall care, is a growing area of emphasis. Two areas in which the College is already well-recognized – lameness testing and diagnosis and reproductive medicine – will be expanded to better serve horse owners and others in these vital areas.

Q: Now that the center is open, are there plans for other new buildings?

A: The Leatherdale Equine Center is the first of two phases for equine facilities and services at this location. The second phase, as yet unscheduled, calls for the construction of the remainder of the equine hospital so that all Emergency and Critical Care for horses can be performed at the same site.

Q: Are tours of the facilities available?

A: Yes, tours of the center are welcomed and available by appointment.  Please call (612)-624-7414 or e-mail cvmumec@umn.edu to schedule an appointment

Q: Is the Large Animal Hospital still in use?

A: Yes, the Large Animal Hospital is still in use and it is currently being used to treat cattle, pigs, sheep, llamas, goats, and other large animals.  It is also still the site for equine infectious diseases.

Q: Do I need a vet referral to bring my horse to the Equine Center?

A: No, you can schedule an appointment without a veterinary referral.  Please call our Appointment line at (612)-625-6700 to schedule any appointments you may need.

Q: Will you work with my current veterinarian?

A: Yes, our veterinarians are willing to work with your current veterinarian to diagnose any problems your horse may have.

Q: Are your veterinarians board certified?

A: Yes, while only 10% of all veterinarians are board certified, all of our Senior Clinicians are board certified in Internal Medicine, Surgery, or Theriogenology.  We also have residents and interns who are DVMs working towards board certification or in specialty focused training.

Q: What are the regular hours for the Equine Center? What about emergency services?

A: The Equine Center is open and fully staffed on weekdays from 7:30AM-6PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30AM-6PM  Emergency services are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Q: How do I get an appointment? Does my vet have to call?

A: Either you or your veterinarian can call to set up an appointment. We will also collect basic information to preadmit you and your animal. If your veterinarian contacts us initially, he/she may still have you call us directly to set up a time that works for everyone.  

Q: Will it cost a lot?

A: Like everything else, it depends on what we need to do. We can provide a partial estimate over the phone and can keep you posted on the charges as we go.

Q: Will it take all day? Do they have to stay overnight?

A: It can take several hours, depending upon the nature of the case and the number of specialists involved. The UMN VMC is like a human clinic or hospital in many ways :you see your primary physician and then go to a different section for labwork or radiographs, finally returning to see your initial doctor. Luckily, many of the tests can be performed same day with immediate results. Many of the cases referred to the UMN are the type that require more time than is practical in the field (eg complicated lamenesses) and/or need special equipment or expertise. Depending upon the other cases seen that day, there may be a wait for radiographs, ultrasound or videoendoscopy. We have the luxury of having a large number of specialists in the building for same day consults but their schedules may need rearranging to see your animal. That can also lead to brief waiting times. Plan on spending the day. Unless your animal is sick, most workups will be done during the day.
If you don’t have the time to wait, you can drop off your animal ahead of time and pick it up in the evening or the following day.

Q: Can I come on Saturday?

A: We do not have appointments on Saturdays, but we do have visiting hours for hospitalized cases and we handles emergencies 24/7 so staff is always available. You can schedule a drop off on the weekend for an appointment on Monday.

Q: My horse is 29 years old. Isn’t surgery unsafe for him?

A: Being a tertiary care institution, we are used to dealing with sick animals and those with special needs. Prior to surgery, we would recommend bloodwork to check his liver and kidneys so that we could best develop an anesthetic protocol. We have 4 board-certified anesthesiologists on staff. They are very good at what they do and enjoy dealing with a variety of challenging cases in animals from 1 day old on up.

Q: But I hate driving into the city! Any options?

A: We do occasionally leave our hospital and work with area veterinarians. However, we cannot take all of our equipment along with us. The clinic is in close proximity to both Hwy 35W and Hwy 36.If you have come into the State Fair, you can find us. And traffic is generally better at other times of the year! We do try to arrange appointment times so that you are not driving through rush hour traffic. You can leave your trailer with us, if you would like if your horse stays overnight.

Q: I am not sure I want students working on my horse. How does that work?

A: We are a teaching hospital and are training the next generation of Minnesota large animal veterinarians. The MN students get to pick which areas of veterinary medicine they emphasize, so most of the students in the LA clinic will soon be joining local equine/food animal practices. Most likely a student will take the history of your animal’s problem and do an initial physical examination. After that stage, they will be joined by a team of veterinarians, including interns, residents and senior clinicians. The hospital is staffed by trained technicians 24 hours a day. While unusual for most teaching hospitals, this 24 hour technician staffing provides for both exceptional care for your animal and exceptional training opportunities for our students, as they are always working alongside a veterinarian or trained technician.

Q: Can I get a discount if I let students work on my horse?

A: Sorry. Our teaching funds are very limited.

Q: Who are these other people? Are they all veterinarians?

A: Not only do we train veterinary students, we also train veterinarians. Veterinarians are able to immediately enter practice after graduation. When veterinarians would like additional training, they can apply for internships or residencies. Internships are one year programs, that usually rotate between areas (eg medicine, surgery, reproduction, anesthesiology). Residencies are 2 or 3 year programs and focus in one area.

Q: What do I have to bring to my appointment?

A: Feel free to ask when you make your appointment. If your animal has had previous radiographs, it can be very useful to bring those. If you are worried about a back problem, we may ask you to bring your tack. If your animal is staying with us, bring any daily dewormer or medications or special feed. If your clinician anticipates radiographs or consults, you may want to bring a good book. There are lots of restaurants nearby if you do not mind unhooking your trailer or if you have a separate vehicle. Otherwise, feel free to bring a snack. Please leave other pets at home unless they can stay in the truck/trailer.

Q: What if I have insurance?

A: The two main types of insurance are mortality (you get paid the value of the insurance policy if the horse dies or is euthanized due to inability to treat the condition) and major medical (pays hospital bills up to a preset amount). The policy at the UMN is that you pay us and then get reimbursed by your insurance company.

Q: How do I pay? Can I be billed?

A: We do not have a billing program. We do take cash, checks and all major credit cards. We also have a credit program (CareCredit) through which you can apply for a short term loan. Our front desk can help you apply for CareCredit before or after your arrival.

Q: I am worried about angering my regular vet. Do you think that’s a concern?

A: We work very closely with our referring veterinarians to provide the best possible care to your animal. Being a larger institution, we are able to purchase more elaborate and more expensive equipment that many practitioners can afford. We also have the luxury of having numerous specialists on staff for consultations on complicated cases. We have the ability to spend all day on one case if it needs the time. Additionally, we have trained technicians to assist in the care of hospitalized cases and with elaborate diagnostics. We do not serve as the primary clinic for most of our clients: They return to their own veterinarian after the animal is diagnosed or stabilized.

Q: What about other referral centers?

A: There are other referral centers in the area. Many of those will refer select cases to us, as well. The UMN employs the great majority of board-certified specialists in MN and the surrounding region.

Q: What is a board certified specialist?

A: A board certified specialist is a veterinarian with at least 3 years advanced training (often more) in an approved program and who has completed an intensive certifying examination during/after that training program. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) oversees the specialty groups and certification program. In the LA clinic, we have 5 board certified medicine specialists, 4 board certified surgery specialists, and 1 board certified theriogenology specialist. We share other specialists with the SA clinic, include ophthalmology, anesthesiology, dermatology, radiology, clinical pathology and pathology, neurology and dentistry.

Q: What is theriogenology?

A: Theriogenology refers to reproductive medicine. We do bovine reproduction, equine reproduction and small animal reproduction.

Q: It seems that I never see the same person twice. Can’t I see my “regular” veterinarian?

A: We do try to ensure case continuity by making sure that the veterinarian that saw your case last time is involved in its care or communicates with your new team. However, due to our triple mission (teaching, service and research), that veterinarian may not be on clinics at the moment as they may be preparing for lectures or performing research. Additionally, the emergency veterinarians may be on a different service (eg on medicine and your animal needs surgery).
Additionally, some veterinarians are with us for a limited period of time as part of a training program. Not only do we train students to be veterinarians, we train veterinarians to be specialists. When veterinarians would like additional training, they can apply for internships or residencies. Internships are one year programs that usually rotate between areas (eg medicine, surgery, reproduction, anesthesiology). Internships are highly competitive and are usually given to students in the top 2% of each graduating class. After an internship or time in private practice, veterinarians may elect additional speciality training. Residencies are 3 year programs in one area (eg surgery). By the time the residents finish the program, they are eligible to take certification examinations and attain specialty status. Again, veterinarians must compete for these positions among an international pool of applicants.

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