Visit Horse Country: Hagyard Institute an Industry Innovator in Equine Medicine

The Life
Foal care at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. (Courtesy of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.)

Nestled in the heart of horse country in Central Kentucky, the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is an industry leader in providing veterinary services to Thoroughbred racehorses and equine athletes of all disciplines.

In addition to this individualized care, Hagyard is a pioneer in expanding the scope of equine internal medicine, reproduction, and surgery through innovative research and application of advanced diagnostic techniques. 

Located next to the Kentucky Horse Park in northern Lexington/Fayette County, the institute has a long and rich history intertwined with the sport of kings. Dr. E.T. Hagyard of Yorkshire, England, founded a veterinary practice in nearby Winchester, Ky., in 1876, and 15 years later built the E.T. Hagyard and Sons veterinary hospital in Lexington. Since then, the practice has treated horses of all breeds and introduced new diagnostic and surgical techniques to the benefit of the Thoroughbred industry and the broader field of animal science as well. From Man o’ War to Secretariat, and on to current Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup horses, Hagyard has taken care of the sport’s elite along with thousands of other horses through the decades.

“We’ve been compared to being the Johns Hopkins or Cleveland Clinic, or Mayo Clinic if you will, of equine health over the years,” said Dr. Luke Fallon, who is a fifth-generation family member to practice at Hagyard and works in the field care division. “We started over 140 years ago, with my predecessors being some of the first graduate veterinarians in the state of Kentucky, and have been working on horses throughout that entire period.”

Currently, the Hagyard Institute has a staff of more than 50 veterinarians supported by a staff of pharmacists, surgical assistants, MRI technicians, and other specialties. Hagyard’s services span the gamut of equine medicine and horse care, covering 10 departments, including surgery, field care, hyperbaric medicine, lab research, podiatry, and equine rescue.

Additionally, Hagyard has an onsite full-service laboratory providing a wide range of diagnostic tests including hematology, endocrinology, real-time respiratory disease testing, and microbiology, to name a few. The institute also handles over 90 percent of the importation and movement of Thoroughbreds internationally to and from over 100 countries via its ETA (Efficient, Timely, and Accurate) department.

Several of its departments are named after three prominent veterinarians from Hagyard’s past – founder E.T. Hagyard, Dr. Arthur Davidson, and Dr. William McGee.

As far as advancing the art and science of veterinary medicine, Hagyard has achieved numerous breakthroughs, and is currently leading research into areas such as gastric ulcers in horses, orthopedic procedures, reproduction, and osteoarthritis.

“In addition, we’re leaders in equine neonatology. Our NICU, or neonatal ICU, will see more neonates than any other NICU in the world during the breeding season,” Fallon said. “We are also leaders in equine reproduction, with our assisted reproductive techniques, and trying to improve fertility rates in broodmares.”

The Hagyard Institute’s commitment to the Thoroughbred industry and to the equine animal is reflected in its numerous sponsorships and associations, including Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, Keeneland Association (sponsoring the Hagyard Fayette Stakes), Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement, and Central Kentucky Riding for Hope.

Hagyard has been involved with Horse Country since the concept originated six years ago, and offers Horse Country tours of its medical complex by appointment. The tours offer a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the crucial role equine medicine plays in keeping racehorses sound and healthy as they grow and develop, as they compete, and then when they go on to breeding careers and retirement.

“It gives me great joy to see people that are moved emotionally by their experience on the Hagyard tour,” Fallon said. “They are struck by the level of care that these horses receive, and quite often remark not only at the state-of-the art facilities and the compassion in which the care is given and executed, but also how expeditiously it’s done, versus human medicine.

“Our mantra for the last nearly century and a half continues to be service with integrity and compassion, while keeping what is in the best interest of the horse at the forefront of every decision.”

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