(The following article is reprinted from "Featured Practice" article in Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, January 2010 magazine)
In Alberta, the words “Burwash” and “horse” often appear in the same sentence. The Burwash brothers — Wayne, Les and Robin — have long been involved in the horse industry in our province. Wayne grew up on a dairy farm at Balzac and graduated in the first class from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in 1969. After an internship in Equine Medicine and Surgery at Kansas State University, he returned to Calgary to start practice at the large animal division of Calgary’s original “Animal Clinic”. Wayne spent the next seven years building the equine part of the practice, during which time the practice grew from three to seven veterinarians and was involved in the world’s first commercial embryo transfer company, Alberta Livestock Transplants. In 1977, Wayne left the Animal Clinic and established his current practice, limited to horses, known as Burwash Equine or Equine Services Ltd.
In the early years, the practice was built on personal service, with many loyal clients relying on it for all the equine veterinary services they required. But over the years, with the explosion of information and techniques in equine medicine and surgery, along with Calgary’s horse community changing from a rural agricultural base to a more urban companion animal base, the practice has changed, too. With the age of specialization, the practice still aims to maintain a personal relationship with the horse owners but doesn’t try to be everything to everyone. The core of the practice is still general equine veterinary services, but a large component of advanced reproductive techniques have evolved.
The practice started as a single-man ambulatory practice but in 1978 the current clinic was built just west of Calgary and the practice expanded to two veterinarians. The practice now has a team of five veterinarians, each with personal interests in riding or competing.
The practice’s workload is split between in-clinic work and ambulatory calls, with over half of the appointments being in backyards and at training/boarding stables. The practice area can best be described as the eastern slope of the Rockies from Airdrie to Okotoks and Black Diamond. Most regular clients are local, but the practice frequently has horses hauled in from Banff, Canmore and eastern British Columbia. The practice also receives a large number of referrals from western Canada for embryo transfer, semen freezing, fertility evaluations of stallions and mares, and lameness workups.
Drs. Burwash and Nyrop are approved FEI (International Equestrian Federation) veterinarians and between them have accreditations for jumping, dressage, eventing, reining, and combined driving. Both have officiated at many international competitions and championships throughout North America, including Spruce Meadows in Calgary. Wayne has served as the president of the Veterinary Commission at Spruce Meadows for over 25 years. Wayne and Karen each spend up to eight weeks a year performing FEI duties.
Community and professional participation is an important aspect of our practice. Every fall our staff present a client education seminar, and they speak to many local horse groups throughout the year. We actively participate in the ABVMA, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the FEI, the AQHA, the Quarter Horse Association of Alberta, and Equine Canada. Wayne has served many years on the Equine Studies Advisory Committees for both Lakeland and Olds Colleges.
Mentorship has also been an important part of our practice. Many aspiring high school, pre-vet and vet students, who are now highly qualified veterinarians around the world, have spent time in the practice as volunteers, summer students, and externs. Many AHT and Olds College Equine Studies students have completed their practicum here. Equine Services Ltd. is very proud to be part of the UCVM Distributed Veterinary Learning Community.
The practice has evolved over the years, but the friendly, service-oriented style that is a predominant Burwash personality trait has continued for a clientele that ranges from World Champions and Olympians to backyard pet (horse) owners. Our mission is to offer current and compassionate medical care for horses because we care.
Reprinted from Alberta Veterinary Medical Magazine January 2010 issue