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Tennessee Equine Hospital Hosts Client Appreciation Seminar


Article by Allison A. Rehnborg; photos by Ryan Rehnborg

On November 13, 2014 approximately 300 people gathered at the Tennessee Equine Hospital (T.E.H.) in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, for the T.E.H. Annual Client Appreciation Seminar. The spacious main barn was decked out with buffet tables, an open bar, a live band, and a dance floor. Friends, clients, and the veterinarians and staff of the hospital filled the barn, chatting, eating, drinking, and dancing. Musicians serenaded diners in the barn, while equine business reps greeted visitors in the hospital lobby with fun giveaways. Partygoers also bid on silent auction items for Take The Reins, an equine-assisted therapeutic riding center serving children with special needs.

The client education portion of the evening, in the seminar room, featured Marylu Ernsting of Kinetic Vet and Sarah Carty of Take The Reins. Before Ernsting took the stage, Allison Gilbert, T.E.H. director of community development delivered an exciting update on Tennessee Equine Hospital Memphis.

T.E.H. is building a new satellite hospital in Arlington, Tennessee, which Gilbert described as a chance for T.E.H to expand “one team into two locations.” Once it opens, T.E.H. Memphis will offer advanced diagnostics and emergency care 24/7, housing a full complement of veterinarians, technicians, and support staff. While still under construction, two full-time T.E.H. vets are already working as ambulatory vets in west Tennessee. Drs. Zach Bruggen and Rilla Reese-Hanks both completed their internships at T.E.H. in preparation for working full-time at T.E.H. Memphis. Dr. Reese-Hanks is a certified acupuncturist, but also promotes equine wellness through traditional medicine; Dr. Bruggen works in lameness, reproduction, chiropractics, and general health and wellness.

Marylu Ernsting, a representative from Kinetic Vet, presented a lecture on equine skin disorders and shared a few of Kinetic Vet’s new topical products for skin problems.

“Equine skin problems are the second most common disorder we call our veterinarians for,” Ernsting said. “The skin is the largest and most visible organ on the horse, and yet there’s a limited number of products designed especially for equine dermatology on the market today.”

Ernsting said horse owners often depend on “shotgun therapy” for treating equine skin disorders, trying this salve and that spray in an attempt to rid their horses of rain rot, hives, and fungal skin conditions like ringworm. But many of these treatments either don’t work well or don’t work at all, leaving horse and owner miserable. Kinetic Vet, a privately-owned animal health manufacturer based in Lexington, Kentucky, offers equine dermatology products for specific diseases. The two veterinarian brother owners, Drs. Scott and Stuart Pierce, oversee the research and development of equine dermatology products.

Ernsting described various equine skin disorders, from bacterial infections, like rain rot and scratches, to fungal skin conditions, like ringworm, and allergic skin disorders, such as insect bite hypersensitivity.  Since a proper diagnosis of a skin disorder is the first step, Ernsting encouraged the audience to get their veterinarians involved as quickly as possible to diagnose the skin disorder. “Most skin diseases clear up more quickly with early diagnosis and treatment,” Ernsting said.

Kinetic Vet’s dermatological products are typically available by prescription only. Ernsting presented several products to the audience, including Vetasan (4% chlorhexidine), a shampoo and salve similar to Nolvasan; Equishield CK (2% chlorhexidine and 1% ketoconazole), a treatment for fungal diseases; and Equishield IR Spray, designed to treat allergic skin conditions.

In the second presentation of the evening Sarah Carty, vice president of the Take The Reins, described how the equine-assisted therapeutic riding program began as a church ministry in 2011 and then quickly expanded, earning its nonprofit status in 2013. Based at Bending Tree Farms in Thompson’s Station, TN and founded by farm owners Jerry and Sharon Clement, the PATH-certified center is designed for children aged 4 to 18, and is open three days a week, serving the 25 children currently enrolled.

 “We serve physically, intellectually, emotionally, and medically challenged children,” Carty said. “Right now, we have 25 kids, 50 parents, and 40 volunteers involved. We’re serving over 100 people in Williamson, Rutherford, and surrounding counties.”

Since Take The Reins is a nonprofit, Carty explained that all donations fund programming and care for the ten horses in the therapeutic riding program. The center hopes to raise enough money to finish enclosing the outdoor arena at the farm, since last winter, the children missed a lot of riding lessons due to cold, rainy weather and a muddy outdoor arena. The center was able to partially roof the arena this summer, but the Clements and Carty want the arena roof finished this winter. Proceeds from the evening’s silent auction went towards completing that project.

Visit their website,,  or their facebook page,, for updates on next year’s educational lecture series.

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