DVMs to play key role in 2010 World Equestrian Games

DVMs to play key role in 2010 World Equestrian Games

Virginia equine sports vet to organize, direct them at 16-day competition in Kentucky
Apr 01, 2007

DVM coordinator for games: Dr. Kent Allen, a specialist in equine sports medicine, will supervise up to 200 veterinarians at the World Equestrian Games. "Part of our assignment is just to make these games a fun, pleasant experience for everyone," he says.
LEXINGTON, KY. — Not even a team of horses will be able to keep Dr. Kent Allen, a Middleburg, Va., DVM who specializes in equine sports medicine, away from this city three and a half years from now.

That's when the 2010 World Equestrian Games – the largest equestrian sporting event ever held in the United States – will gallop into the heart of Kentucky horse country.

The 16-day competition is expected to draw 500,000 to 700,000 spectators from around the world to Lexington's Kentucky Horse Park.

The event may seem a long way off, but preparations already are well under way by the host organization, which has set up headquarters in a renovated barn just down the road from the 1,200-acre, state-of-the-art equine theme park.

Fast facts
High on the agenda is the assembling a team of more than 100 – perhaps as many as 200 – DVMs, most of whom will volunteer their time to perform the critical functions of judging, treating and required medication (doping) testing of 900 horses representing more than 60 nations.

As veterinary services coordinator, Allen will oversee the selection of the DVM pool, organize it into task groups and monitor all veterinary functions while athletes compete for world championships in eight equestrian disciplines – show jumping, dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting, reining and para-equestrian.

He brings considerable experience to the job. He was veterinary coordinator for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the top-ranked foreign veterinary delegate at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and has served as the United States Equestrian Team (USET) veterinarian on several international teams.

"We had 110 equine vets in Atlanta in 1996. I expect we'll need more than that for the WEG because of the additional disciplines. Perhaps up to 200," Allen says.

Equestrian sport has long been part of the summer Olympic games, but only in three disciplines – stadium jumping, dressage and eventing.

The world games began in 1990 in Sweden, and are held every four years, two years prior to each summer Olympics. They began with six disciplines – the three Olympic events plus driving, endurance and vaulting. Reining was added as a seventh discipline in 2002.

The 2010 games in Lexington will have three important "firsts:"

  • This will be the first time the WEG will be held outside of Europe.
  • It's the first time all events will be conducted at a single venue (no European venue is as large or has as many facilities as the Kentucky Horse Park).
  • It will be the first time that para-equestrian events will be included as an eighth discipline. (Para-equestrian contests involve driving and dressage for riders and drivers with disabilities.)

One of the main concerns for equine veterinarians, Allen says, will be protecting American horses from the tick-borne blood disease piroplasmosis, which is endemic in southern Europe and South America.