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KESMARC employs a unique approach

Friday, May 4, 2007 - by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom senior correspondent

Williamsport, PA --- When Hub and Kirsten Johnson built the Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Management Center (KESMARC) five years ago, it was to solve a perplexing riddle.

“We were frustrated with horses not returning to the high level they should after an injury,” Kirsten Johnson said. “We started hearing about how important rehabilitation is for human surgeries so my husband and I started researching surgeries and post operative care over 20 years ago.”

After studying human rehabilitation, the Johnsons were convinced the horse industry required post-injury and post-surgical care.

“A person goes to surgery and immediately has rehab,” Kirsten said. “But horses have surgery, rest in a stall and then are turned out. They could just rip around the paddock, tear themselves up and what have you accomplished? From that perspective, the idea to create a rehab center was common sense.”

Located near Versailles, Ky., KESMARC offers a full spectrum of treatment options for any equine athlete that has been injured, ill or simply needs to rebuild their strength. The facility contains a swimming pool, an Aqua-Tred (an underwater treadmill), Eurosizer, solarium, indoor jogging track and a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber. The Johnsons maintain the equipment but do not employ a medical staff.

“We do not practice medicine,” Kirsten said. “We do what’s best for the horse as a facilitator. We make sure it’s done in a timely, correct sequence and that every detail from post-op, until they return to training is followed. We want the trainer to have an animal that is just glad to be there because it’s not in pain anymore.”

The charge for room, board and water therapy is a flat rate of $75 per day. All additional treatments cost extra.

“Some people might consider our services costly,” Kirsten said. “But in the long run, it is a cheap investment to return your horse to a high level of performance.”

The Johnsons are not content with just healing equine bodies. KESMARC’s internship program for aspiring veterinarians illustrates the advances of medical science and how the horse industry works.

“Our passion is not changing, it is just evolving,” Kirsten said. “Our internship program is about educating young people with the best medical technology the business has to offer. It is all about expanding minds.”

KESMARC is open to the public on a daily basis.

“People don’t come to Kentucky to see a horse through a fence,” Kirsten said. “We want to let people know how many great owners there are. A foal might never race, but the farm is willing to do anything to save it.”

While the Johnsons have made significant progress in deciphering their riddle, Kirsten admits there is no simple answer.

When you have a complex situation like an infection or an injury, you often have a complex solution,” Kirsten said. “It often takes an entire progress of events and each horse is different. You cannot treat them with a cookie cutter approach. All we can do is the best we can by the horse. Then everybody involved is a winner.”

Source: http://www.ustrotting.org

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