The words “humanitarian veterinarian” just roll off your tongue; say it with a smile, and read about two humanitarian veterinarians who received recognition this weekend.
The USEF/EQUUS Foundation Humanitarian Award is a celebration of the humanitarian achievements made by a member of the equestrian world. From improving the health and welfare of the horse to promoting and expanding the general public’s appreciation and respect of the diverse roles of horses, the recipient of this award has devoted considerable personal time to making the lives and quality of life of our equine partners paramount.
At last week’s US Equestrian Federation Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, a special award was given to two members of the equestrian community that you aren’t like to see in the show ring. The Humanitarian Award was shared by two veterinarians in different states who have devoted themselves to assisting equine-assisted therapy organizations.
Dr Richard Tully of Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic has been involved in helping the special-needs clients of?SMILES, a local non-profit therapeutic riding center for children and adults with disabilities, and in the equine industry through his role in the development of the School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) at the University of Wisconsin.
According to a news release, Dr. Tully has a long involvement: a young vet, just joining his father’s practice, he visited the personal residence of Sherry Monty, founder of SMILES, to care for her horses. There he learned of her dream to partner horses with individuals with disabilities and joined an effort that has become a lifelong commitment of donating all the needed care to the SMILES horses.
“We have precious memories of Rick and his stethoscope, center stage in the arena, demonstrating to our special need riders the horse’s breath and beating heart. How better to inspire us, and to equip us to move forward in life, than to bring us back to the message that we all share the same air,” said Monty.
In addition to helping clients, Tully has helped to provide second chances to horses who can no longer continue in their previous careers and has found perfect homes for those special horses who need to retire from therapeutic riding.
Dr. Tully has dedicated extensive personal time for almost three decades to the SMILES organization and the clients they serve – as a Board member, and a fundraiser, and most of all, as the caregiver of their horses.
Meanwhile, out in Colorado, Dr Mark Fitch of Quality Equine Veterinary Services in Boulder County has always made time for the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center (CTRC). Ever since he was a struggling young veterinarian working hard to establish his practice, Dr. Fitch ?helped literally thousands of volunteers, staff and riders learn to respect, appreciate and build relationships with horses. Additionally, Dr. Fitch has served on CTRC’s Advisory Board for nearly three decades, providing vision and guidance in everything from farm management to program development and arena construction.
The Equus report tells us that Dr. Fitch is a progressive equine practitioner whose practice exudes a remarkably special sensitivity toward both the client and the patient. “There is no practitioner in the area more revered and respected by his human clients or more accepted by and effective with his equine patients,” the Foundation reports.
In addition to the recognition of winning this prestigious award, the recipients receive a $5,000 grant from the EQUUS Foundation to be awarded to a horse-related charity of his or her choice. Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center in Longmont, Colorado, and SMILES (Special Methods in Learning Equine Skills) of Darien, Wisconsin, will each receive a $5,000 grant.