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Equine Performax at the Jaeckle Centre


Dr. Wooten and Dr. Oliphant
By Allison Rehnborg

Now open at the Jaeckle Centre in Thompson’s Station, TN, Equine Performax is a specialized sports therapy veterinary practice for performance horses of all disciplines. The two veterinarians at the center, Dr. Mark Wooten and Dr. Jill Oliphant, offer a variety of services, specializing in lameness and performance issues, in addition to regular veterinary services from pre-purchase exams to surgery. Wooten is the Director of Equine Rehabilitative Services, with 32 years of experience as a practicing veterinarian. Oliphant serves as the Director of Veterinary Medicine and Rehabilitation Therapy.

The focus of the practice is five-fold: (1) injury prevention; (2) evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of neuromuscular/skeletal injuries; (3) performance enhancement; (4) research; and (5) education of veterinarians, vet techs, trainers, owners, and riders. The practice is essentially an equine “spa.”

Dr. Wooten is a 1982 graduate of the University of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine. He practiced at the Nolensville Veterinary Hospital for around 25 years. Dr. Oliphant joined him in Nolensville shortly before they moved to the Jaeckle Centre this March. Dr. Wooten believes in holistic equine medicine, utilizing traditional veterinary modalities along with alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments, to keep the performance horse healthy.

Dr. Oliphant worked at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute as a Sport Horse Veterinarian from 2011-2013, following her graduation from Auburn University in 2010. She is also a 2013 graduate of Options for Animals College of Animal Chiropractic, where she earned accreditation from the Veterinary Chiropractic Association. Dr. Oliphant enjoys general practice covering “everything,” but she has special interests in chiropractic and lameness work. Both veterinarians are excited about the chance to practice at the Jaeckle Centre, and clearly love what they do.

The practice caters to sport horses from multiple disciplines. On any given day, they may see driving horses, eventers, cutters, reiners, barrel horses, running Quarter Horses, dressage horses, hunters, jumpers, and other equine athletes. People bring their horses from all over the country, including Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, and Mississippi, to benefit from the veterinarians’ expertise and to utilize the various specialized equipment available at the Centre.

The facility features:

1. Underwater Treadmill (Aqua Pacer). The horse steps into a tank with a treadmill as a floor, and the tank is then filled with water to the horse’s elbows as the horse “marches along.” Using the treadmill helps horses recover from injuries with minimal concussive force, and also works well for older competitive horses. The treadmill enables the horses to perform strenuous physical activity without the pounding and concussion of trotting or loping on regular dirt. It also minimizes stresses on the joints, tendons, and soft tissues since the horses only experience about 30% concussion. Dr. Wooten has used it on his own horse, a cutting horse with stifle injuries, and found it was very beneficial.

2. Cold Water Leg Spa. The Leg Spa resembles a step-in bath tub for horses, which fills with cold salt water to about body level. The water is kept at 36 º F and contains eight times the salinity of salt water. It helps with ligament tears and general aches and pains. Dr. Wooten mentioned that it has also been beneficial for horses with acute laminitis. (If you suspect your horse has gotten into the grain bin overnight or you suspect an attack of acute laminitis might be about to occur, immediately placing the horse’s feet in freezing ice water for 48 hours or more can keep laminitis from setting in. Dr. Wooten has used the cold water leg spa on one or two horses in that situation with success.)

3. Hallmarq Standing MRI. Installed the first of June, the standing MRI is the “crown jewel” of the equipment at the Centre. It enables the veterinarians to perform an MRI on an upright and mostly awake horse, rather than having to anesthetize the horse and lay him flat, as had to be done previously with MRIs. They lightly sedate the horse and then situate him in a big room with the MRI. The standing MRI allows the veterinarians to obtain images of every part of the horses’ legs from the knees and hocks down. The MRI can find what X-rays and ultrasound can’t, and “can do so much more for prognosis” than other diagnostic tools. While it costs an owner $2300 for an equine MRI, Dr. Wooten says that equine insurance companies will cover major medical expenses like MRIs, the use of the treadmill, cold water spa, and therapeutic ultrasound. Equine MRI has been around for 10 to 15 years, but standing MRIs are a recent development.

4. Magna Wave Laser Therapy. This is a class 4 laser that can stimulate healing for acute inflammation and soft tissue issues.

5. Therapeutic ultrasound. This is used to stimulate healing for soft tissue and muscular injuries.

6. EquiVibe vibration plate. It looks like a weight scale for horses, but is an enormous vibrating plate that the horse stands on. The vibrating plate promotes circulation, relaxes the muscles, and even seems to help hoof growth. When visiting the facility, I witnessed a cutting horse mare standing on the plate and she seemed to be enjoying herself. Dr. Wooten says he likes to stand on it sometimes.

Other therapies in use include the EquiPulse wave therapy, which directs a series of magnetic pulses through injured tissue to stimulate cellular repair, and a Solarium.

Dr. Wooten estimated that they see about 8 or 9 horses per day for some kind of therapy and, of course, a lot of the horses are repeat visitors. One huge plus factor of the practice is that horses can come to the Centre and have access to all the equipment at once, rather than having to go to different locations for an MRI, or a Cold Leg Spa, or for laser treatment.

The Jaeckle Centre is a spectacular facility – reminiscent of Thoroughbred breeding facilities in Kentucky, with swooping ceilings, shiny stained wood walls, green iron bars, and sliding doors on all the stalls. It’s more like a palace for horses than a barn! Set in gently rolling hills, surrounded with green fields, wooden fences, and enormous mansions, the Centre also has a spacious indoor arena and two outdoor rings for riding and jogging horses.

Dr. Wooten and Dr. Oliphant hope to develop the educational outreach of the practice, for both veterinarians and horse owners. The Centre also hosts riding clinics throughout the year. Betsy Steiner will teach a Dressage clinic on October 4-5 and Geoff Teall will teach a hunter/jumper/equitation clinic on November 15-16, 2014. For more information, visit:

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