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All nations great and small will turn to Bruce

Newbury vet is Rio's 'surgeon on call'

Malcolm Howe



All nations great and small will turn to Bruce

Donnington Grove vet Bruce Bladon

LOCAL vet Bruce Bladon has a new ‘practice’ of 500 potential patients as he takes up his role as the senior veterinary surgeon at the Rio Olympics this week.

The equine specialist partner at the Donnington Grove Veterinary Group is the surgeon on call for the 500 horses that will be taking part in the Games.

Bladon has shrugged aside any disappointment at not getting the call to the London games by being appointed National Technical Official and Emergency Services Team Leader for Rio, and will be responsible for any equine surgery.

The senior equine partner at the Donnington Grove practice is a regular raceday vet at Newbury Racecourse on top of his work with one of the country’s leading practices, and his work has taken him around the world. He regularly practices at Badminton, and had returned from surgery in Spain before almost immediately flying out to Brazil for the games.

“I was invited to go on a course there,” he said, “and lectured. I met the director of veterinary services there and through that I was appointed.

“I had hoped to be at the London Olympics, but two of my colleagues at Donnington were,” he said.

“In London, cases were referred to Newmarket, but there is a surgery built on site in Brazil and in the depth of the

tropics, there are lots of tropical diseases, the most important being glanders and we have to guard against that.

“Almost every nation has its own vets,” he said, “but if any horse needs surgery, then we are there.

“Obviously, you hope that there are not many, but it would not be unusual for one horse to have an abdominal issue like appendicitis or colic, especially after travelling, and maybe one injury after competition.

“Two is the going rate.”

“But at Donnington Grove, we have a team of about 20 equine vets and usually carry out about 600 surgeries a year so maybe two or three a day. Two is the going rate at the Olympics.”

Bladon qualified as a vet at Edinburgh in 1988, and after specialist equine training at Bristol, obtained post

graduate qualifications including the Certificate of Equine Practice in 1992, Certificate of Equine Surgery in 1996, Diploma of Equine Soft Tissue Surgery in 1999 and a Diploma of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2001 and he has been a RCVS registered specialist in Equine Surgery since 2000 and a world-renowned consultant.

Rio adds something else to his already impressive CV and a new challenge: “The eventing starts pretty much as soon as the opening ceremony has ended.

“Then there is the cross country and lastly the dressage and effectively we are on call by every team.”


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