New UF Veterinary Hospital at World Equestrian Center now open for business

WEC Hospital

The new UF Veterinary Hospital at World Equestrian Center opened for business on May 26. (Photo by Louis Brems)

By Sarah Carey

The University of Florida Veterinary Hospital at World Equestrian Center in Ocala is now open for business to provide leading-edge patient care to horses and small animals located on-site as well as from the local community.

Over a thousand people were in attendance for a grand opening preview event and ribbon-cutting held May 25 to celebrate the occasion. The hospital opened to clients the following day.

Plans for the first-of-its-kind, 40,000-square-foot hospital facility were announced last fall by the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and the center as part of a strategic alliance aimed at better serving WEC visitors with animals in need of veterinary care. Animal owners from Ocala, known as the horse capital of the world, and the surrounding area will benefit from the venue at a time when the demand for veterinary services is at an unprecedented high, UF administrators said.

“Nowhere else in the world is there a leading-edge veterinary hospital located within a premier equestrian venue, with all of the services that equine competitors need to ensure their horses are kept in optimal health and performance-ready condition,” said Dana Zimmel, D.V.M., dean of the UF veterinary college. “With the expertise of veterinary specialists working across a variety of disciplines, we will offer a broad spectrum of expertise in diagnostic and patient care, not just to elite athletes, but to companion animals as well.”

Ribbon-cutting at WEC

Dr. Dana Zimmel, dean of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, and Mary Roberts, owner of World Equestrian Center, cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the new UF Veterinary Hospital in Ocala. From left to right are Diane Thomason of Ocala Promotions; Dr. Scott Angle, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources, and leader of UF/IFAS; Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn; Zimmel; Roberts; Dr. David Nelson, senior vice president of health affairs and president of UF Health, and Colin Barrett with Edward Jones.

Equine services available at the new facility will focus on sports medicine, diagnostic imaging and rehabilitation. Small animals will receive urgent and primary care, with a goal of expanding specialty services for horses and small animals.

Among the unique capabilities the hospital will offer are advanced diagnostic imaging technology, including the Qalibra CT, Hallmarq MRI and LONGMILE PET scanner. Each of these provides different types of information and may be used in combination to provide more specific and accurate diagnostic information to better diagnose lameness and orthopaedic problems.

Currently, there is no other facility that offers the combination of these diagnostic imaging and rehabilitative modalities at one site.

Along with specialists certified in equine sports medicine and rehabilitation, the UF Veterinary Hospital at WEC will have a full complement of rehabilitative modalities available for physical therapy and strengthening, conditioning and recovery of equine athletes, including aqua treadmill, vibration plate, cold water spa, dry salt, solarium, laser, extracorporeal shockwave therapies and much more.

Large and small animal staff at WEC

Members of the large and small animal faculty and staff associated with the UF Veterinary Hospital at World Equestrian Center gathered to pose for a group photo with their own animals on May 24, the day before the Grand Opening Preview and Ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the new facility. (Photo by Louis Brems)

“Timely and efficient access to veterinary care can mean everything when it comes to animal health,” Zimmel said. “With the hospital being located centrally on World Equestrian Center grounds, our services will be right at the fingertips of those who need them.”

The UF veterinarians at the new facility will work closely with local veterinarians, as well as with veterinary specialists at the main UF Veterinary Hospital in Gainesville, to ensure optimal collaboration and continuity of care.

“We are pleased that through our collaboration with the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, this extraordinary veterinary hospital is now open for business,” said World Equestrian Center owner Mary Roberts. “The ability to offer world-class large and small animal veterinary services on-site to our exhibitors, competitors and the community sets us apart from other equestrian venues located throughout the country and the world.”

Although the new hospital’s focus is on providing the best possible patient care, knowledge gained by working with equine performance horses may lead to advanced studies that result in improved clinical outcomes for all horses, Zimmel said.

While UF veterinary students will not initially perform clinical rotations at the facility, Zimmel envisions this will happen in time.

“We recognize what a great experience exposure to the UF Veterinary Hospital at WEC would be for students, particularly those who are equine-oriented,” she said.

Anyone interested in making an appointment at the new facility for their horse or pet may call 352-414-3858. Visit for more information about specific services provided.

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