This is the archive of Caring for the Equine Athlete with Shelly Onderdonk, DVM, part of the Team USPA Lecture Series, held on Monday, September 19, 2011.

The Team USPA program kicked off the season in Aiken, S.C. with its fall Team USPA lecture series. Shelly Onderdonk, DVM invited the group of 10 young polo players to New Haven Farm for the second of her two-part lecture where she shared secrets of how she cares for husband Adam Snow’s string of top polo ponies.

Dr. Onderdonk reviewed what she covered in her first lecture last spring, including her top four priorities when caring for the equine athlete: conditioning and nutrition, the concept of individualized care for each horse in a string, the importance of farriery and short term versus
long term thinking.

After a quick review of her top priorities when caring for the equine athlete, Dr. Onderdonk shifted focus on holistic versus conventional therapies including equine acupuncture, which she specializes in. Other topics included: homeopathy/herbs, allopathic medicines and chiropractic care stressing the need for it to be supplemented with acupuncture and deep massage to help the soft tissue recover from trauma.

Since these concepts were new to several audience members, Dr. Onderdonk opened up the discussion to answer all the participants’ questions. She introduced additional ideas such as using an over-the-counter probiotic to replace the “good bacteria” after treating a horse with an antibiotic. She also recommended using herbs and homeopathic remedies when deemed appropriate since they have no side effects and she supplied the group with informational resources on treating horses with herbal and homeopathic remedies.

Dr. Onderdonk admitted that she initially didn’t consider homeopathy to be effective until she experienced the form of alternative medicine first hand in her mid-twenties when she stumbled across a remedy that worked on her.

About Team USPA - Team USPA continues to be instrumental in encouraging USPA programs and events that will recruit, train and develop American players and teams to the fullest measure of excellence. This includes advancing young players to compete in international events on behalf of the U.S., participation in national and circuit USPA tournaments and working to improve the level of play for competitors at every stage of experience.

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