12 Fracture Repair Take-Homes From a Top Equine Surgeon

Dr. Dean Richardson presented the Milne State of the Art Lecture at the 2019 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention to offer insight into treating bone breaks and fractures in horses.
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12 Fracture Repair Take-Homes From a Top Equine Surgeon
Dr. Dean Richardson delivered the 2019 Milne lecture on managing limb fractures in horses. | Photo: Courtesy AAEP
Many millennial veterinarians aren’t old enough to remember Gary Larson and his “The Far Side” comic, quipped Dean Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, as he opened the 2019 Frank J. Milne State of the Art Lecture on equine bone fracture repair. Richardson was happy to introduce the younger audience members to Larson, whom he described as one of the great comic artists of the late 20th century. But there’s one Larson comic Richardson can’t stand. “I absolutely detest it,” he deadpanned.

Let us paint the picture for you with our words (be sure to take a moment to Google “Gary Larson Horse Hospital”): The single-panel comic shows what appears to be a military hospital ward. The patients are horses, each reclining in a hospital bed with a casted leg in traction. The doctors ominously carry shotguns through the aisle. “BLAM!” exclaims a speech bubble from behind a curtain. Below, the text simply reads “Horse hospitals.”

“Too many people believe this cartoon,” Richardson said. “We have to change that.”

During his lecture, Richardson, who serves as chief of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center School of Veterinary Medicine, took the opportunity to change preconceived notions that equine fractures equal euthanasia. While he originally named his presentation, “From Larson to Laotzu,” he settled on “The Tao of Equine Fracture Management” and continually returned to the theme of balance. Here are 12 of his takeaways

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Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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