BY JESS CLAWSON
Horse owners want to be knowledgeable and educated about every aspect of our horses’ care, but working adult amateurs don’t always get to take part in the day to day management. That’s why it’s so important to work with a team of professionals who will listen to and communicate with us directly. Trainers, barn managers, farriers, and veterinarians all play a critical role in taking care of our beloved animals. But sometimes the owners are left out of the conversation.
Grand Prix Equine, located in Connecticut, is committed to prioritizing the owners in the process of giving horses the best medical care possible. Dr. Mark Baus and Dr. Johanna Kremberg, along with their associate Dr. Luvie Abell, deliver the best of technology and a great bedside manner to your farm. Their practice is entirely ambulatory, which means you don’t have to put your horse on the trailer to get radiographs, ultrasounds, or gastroscopy. That’s less time, stress, and money spent on treatment without sacrificing quality.
Mark founded the practice in 2009 after 20 years with Fairfield Equine Associates. Mark is the son and grandson of large animal vets in South Dakota, so going to vet school seemed inevitable to him. He decided to specialize in horses particularly while at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine
“I had a vision for the practice when I founded it ten years ago, and so far we’ve lived up to the vision,” Mark said. “I found that horse owners were being put in a secondary position behind trainers in managing the horses’ care. While the trainers are very important, I wanted our clients to be better taken care of with better communication and more respect for their wishes and needs. So the core of what we try to maintain with them is great customer service.”
“In days gone by, the ideal client was one who received their bill and paid it immediately without asking questions,” Mark said. “It’s for the best that those times are behind us, because what it comes down to is that horse/owner relationship. If there’s a horse owner or a trainer who wants to work very closely with a veterinarian who will respect their needs, we’re the practice they should consider,” he said.
Johanna Kremberg joined the practice in 2014 and became a 50/50 partner this year. Johanna graduated from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. She excels in gastroscopy, dentistry, and all aspects of maintaining an equine athlete—a great complement to Mark’s specialty in lameness.
The two work closely with the third vet in their practice, Dr. Luvie Abell, and will soon be adding an intern to the roster. Each vet also works with an experienced technician every day.
“My technician is my right hand,” Johanna said. “Our support staff makes us more efficient and are excellent horse handlers. They’re the liaison between the veterinarian and the clients sometimes in helping translate medicalese and explaining a new procedure. They help to keep track of blood work, inventory, and the phone calls and texts that we receive throughout the day.”
Mark agreed: “The techs make sure our clients are well taken care of. In small animal medicine, they have very well proven statistics that show that the more techs you have per doctor, the better care you provide and the more profitability you have. There’s no way a doctor can possibly cover all of their bases without the technical help. We would be lost without them.”
The practice prioritizes staying up to date on technology from all perspectives. “It’s key to our communication with clients,” Mark explained. “We regard ourselves as a paperless practice. We flood our clients with as much of the activity that we’ve performed on their horse as possible.”
Clients of Grand Prix Equine get their records over email. All radiograph and ultrasound images are archived electronically so they will never be misplaced. Clients also get copies of nearly every image generated for them. This efficient communication and information handling is part of what clients most appreciate about the practice.
They also make the most of technological innovations. Each vet’s truck is outfitted with radiograph and ultrasound machines, a gastroscope, a lameness locator, and a Stable Labs SAA stall side test to help diagnose problems quickly right there in the barn.
The endoscope has been a game changer for providing digital video and images of the stomach and upper airway. “This has been a huge benefit to the horse and the client to provide this service on the farm,” Johanna said. “We can get the images to the client, trainer, barn manager, or specialist on the same day. Once all parties have that information, the treatment plan makes sense. There are always fewer questions if that information is disseminated.”
“Nothing drives compliance for treatment like being convinced there’s actually a problem,” Mark concurred, noting that the Equinosis Lameness Locator—a system of inertial sensors placed on the horse to evaluate his movement—has a similar effect.
“We humans are the worst at evaluating lameness because we can’t be objective about it,” Mark explained. “The lameness locator is objective in detecting gate asymmetry and gives us an accurate measurement of the severity of the lameness and identifies where it originates.” The lameness locator provides helpful information if they need to refer the horse to a surgeon, or if the horse is moving out of town and will be going to another practice.
Grand Prix Equine uses scientific, evidence-based medicine in diagnosing and treating their equine patients. “It’s critical to get the correct diagnosis and to reevaluate the diagnosis if the treatment isn’t working,” Johanna said. Mark pointed to the proliferation of supplements for gastric ulcers on the market today. “That tells you that it’s a problem for a lot of horses, but before giving them a supplement, the horse needs a gastroscopic exam to be sure that’s what we’re dealing with so we can treat it effectively,” he insisted.
The vets at Grand Prix Equine pride themselves on listening to the owners and trainers and seeking the most accurate diagnosis for the horses so they can treat them effectively. As Johanna said, “We pride ourselves on providing both technology and the human touch all at once and all at the farm; we can bring Grand Prix Equine to you.”
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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