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Local Vet is Highest Ranking Veterinary Official at the London Olympic Games
By Middleburg Eccentric
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If medals were handed out for services rendered at the Olympics, the team of veterinarians who come to the games from all corners of the world would certainly deserve the accolades. Dr. Kent Allen whose Middleburg practice at Virginia Equine Imaging specializes in sports medicine, is one of the many international vets who love taking care of Olympic equine competitors.

Assisting at the Olympics is not a new assignment for Dr. Allen. He was Veterinary Services Manager at the Atlanta Games and was Foreign Veterinary Delegate at both the Sydney Games and the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“Being a part of the Olympics is a fabulous experience,” according to the local vet. “My experience in London was very similar to my experience at the Sydney games… both were extraordinary opportunities that I wouldn’t trade for anything.”

Dr. Allen grew up successfully training and competing quarter horses nationally. His wife, Rae Stone, a Kentucky girl whom he met in veterinary college, is, according to him, a much better rider than he. These days, when time allows he enjoys fox hunting with his family.

Equine veterinary work is a family tradition for Dr. Allen.

“My father was an equine vet and taught at the University of Missouri Veterinary College. My sister is a small animal vet and my wife, Rae, is a dolphin vet who co-founded the Dolphin Quest company. We have all dedicated our lives to the care of animals.

Sixteen years ago, Dr. Allen and his wife moved their family to Middleburg to raise their children in a beautiful, bucolic atmosphere near an international airport.
“We’ve thoroughly treasured our time here,” he explained. I’ve been able to focus on sports medicine for horses, an area that provides enormous challenges and satisfaction.”

“Olympic work involves all three equine disciplines: jumping, dressage and eventing. A team vet travels with each team of five horses and interfaces with the Vet Services Manager to care for the animals. The Olympic Veterinary Commission rules are demanding and clear. It is our job to ensure that the horses meet all requirements and standards before and during competitions.”

This year Dr. Allen was the International Technical Delegate at the Games, the ranking official in the veterinary area.

“When the horses arrive from 40 countries, they are carefully checked over to ensure that there is no disease transmission before they arrive at their venue. Once they come to the site, we check them thoroughly against their passports and look them over well.”

Each of the three equine disciplines has its own inspection standards and all the vets dress formally in suit and tie. Each horse is presented to the Veterinary Commission, identified and trotted up and back in the main arena.

“If I have a question, we may send the horse to the hold where another vet inspects the horse again, palpates it and ensures that it is fit to compete. My top priority is the horses’ safety during the competition.”

Then, if judges see something that concerns them during competition, they may request that the Vet Commission inspect the horse again, after which the Ground Jury will make the decision about whether or not to allow it to compete.

“It is always amazing to me that human athletes do not undergo nearly the rigorous monitoring that horses benefit from,”

Dr. Allen continued. “I believe that, because the horses can’t speak for themselves, it makes good sense that they are the most closely monitored Olympic athletes.”
“The Brits worked hard to improve their programs for this Olympics. The competition was extremely impressive, some of the very best equine sport I have seen, but the British riders really deserved their medals. I’m confident that the U.S. Teams will be strong competitors at Rio Olympics 2016!”

“My Olympic goal is always to ensure that all the horses go home in good shape so they may compete again. I just received a call saying there were no drug positives this year. This is such great and encouraging news. There is nothing better than a totally clean Games.”

Returning only a few days ago, our local Olympic vet admits that he misses the comraderie of the vet team at the Games. Now fast friends with Olympic colleagues, he says it really takes a while to shake off what he calls the “Olympic doldrums” once the Games are over.

“But I am happy to return to an overflowing practice,” he concludes. We provide the most sophisticated imaging/lameness service for horses in the area. Sixteen years ago when I decided to come to Middleburg and specialize in equine sports medicine, some doubted that such a practice could be successful. It has been very satisfying to see it succeed and, with my extraordinary staff, I have been able to keep our sports medicine practice and standards to the highest level.”

To contact Dr. Allen or staff, please email info@vaequine.com.

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Posted on: Thursday, August 23, 2012