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February 24, 1995 - Image 62

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-02-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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This Doc

Dr. Biederman stitches up a
horse's leg.

Doesn't

Horse

Around

Mark Biederman's
four-legged
patients comprise
his mane practice.

RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER

61

ou'll see no tattered
copies of Highlights
magazines. No col-
orful hard-bound
Bibles for kids. No
runny-nosed tod-
dlers, consoling
moms, pacifiers and
medical records.
Come to this doctor's office
and you'll get an eyeful of
manes, tails and hoofs. You will
witness snorting patients,
chewing hay in their stalls. And
you'll meet their soft-spoken
physician, Dr. Mark Bieder-
man, owner of the Equine Clin-
ic in Oldcastle, Ontario.
Dr. Biederman is a horse sur-
geon. The 34-year-old veteri-
narian attended Michigan State
University and went on to pur-
sue a calling.
"Since I was young, I always
had a fascination with ani-
mals," he says.
Dr. Biederman's other fas-
cination is sports. He's a die-
hard MSU fan and continues to
don the green-and-white color
scheme of his alma mater. His
scrubs are green and white. His
operating room is green and
white.
Combine pets and athletics
and what do you get? A guy
who works medical wonders at
the race track. As one of his first
jobs, Dr. Biederman assisted a
veterinarian at the track in
Hazel Park. In 1988, he gradu-
ated with honors from MSU's
vet school and returned to
Hazel Park as a doctor in his
own right.
"When I applied to veteri-
narian school, it was strictly
with the intention of working
on horses," he says. "Vet school,
to me, was probably four of the
easiest years of my life. It was

lir

everything I wanted to know Dr. Biederman has been forced
to destroy only six horses with
and do."
Histology, physiology, anato- racing injuries.
Horses are more often euth-
my, parasitology ... you name
the class, he breezed through it. anized for irreversible colon con-
Clinical rotations were tough ditions, he says.
Dr. Biederman performs
14-hour days, seven days a
week, but that's comparable to three types of major surgeries.
the rigorous schedule he keeps Castration reduces a stallion's
now. The time commitment is natural aggressiveness. Arthro-
scopic surgery is common, too.
worth it, he says.
"What's most interesting, is It involves the removal of
that I can practice medicine and chipped bone from the animal's
read about it in the newspaper's joint. Internal fixation corrects
sports section the next day," he fractured bones.
"For simple fractures, prob-
says.
Dr. Biederman spent four ably 70 percent of the horses
years at the Hazel Park race come back and race," he says.
Dr. Biederman also performs
track. Then, in 1991, he opened
a private practice along Route intestinal operations, though
One, just outside of Windsor they're not as frequent.
near the Ontario race track.
Windsor Raceway, which is
open all year, supplies him
with a steady flow of patients.
Dr. Biederman treats between
100 and 150 horses per week
at the track, in his clinic and
through house calls So far dur-
— Dr. Mark Biederman
ing his career, he has worked
on more than 6,000 different
horses.
To prepare a horse for
Respiratory problems com-
prise the most common type of surgery, Dr. Biederman and his
horse malady. Owners fre- assistants guide the 1,000- to
quently lodge their animals in 1,400-pound animal into a room
cramped and crowded quarters. with padded walls and a two-
Poor ventilation and mold ex- ton hoist. They secure clamps
around the horse's four ankles
acerbate illness.
Racing also takes a toll. Hors- and administer a sedative
es' joints were not made for the which induces anesthesia.
As the horse drops slowly to
tight turns of the track, Dr. Bie-
the
floor, an assistant holds its
derman says. About 30 percent
of his patients suffer from lame- neck to prevent injury. The elec-
ness, which is generally treat- tronic hoist elevates the body
enough to allow the doctor to
able.
Contrary to Hollywood's roll a padded operating table
shoot-them-when-they're-down underneath.
The horse is lowered until it
depiction of an equine fate, true
horse-doctoring offers more lies comfortably on the table.
hope. In his years of practice, Anesthesia is maintained with

"I can read about it
in the newspaper
the next day."

halothane gas administered
through a large endotracheal
tube. Other machines mon-
itor the heartbeat and blood
pressure.
With custom-manufac-
tured enuipment, Dr. Bie-
derman begins surgery
under bright lights. He takes
pride in his sterile workplace.
Horses are highly vulnerable
to infection, so he goes to
great lengths to keep things
clean.
After operations, Dr. Bie-
derman adheres to a follow-
up routine. He checks his
patients' appetites and
moods. He takes their tern-
perature and examines their
excrement for telltale signs
of problems.
2 "Lots of manure in the
'2, stall," he observes, patting
c" Horse #1. "That's good."
(The horses preferred not
to use their real names, lest
their owners get upset.)
Horse #2 paws anxiously at
the ground. "She's hungry," Dr.
Biederman notes.
He enters the third stall and
sees Horse #3 eating hay. Her
ears point upwards. The doctor
reaches down and touches her
leg where the operation was
performed. No redness. No
swelling.
`That's a content horse. She's
feeling good," he says.
Through the years, Dr. Bie-
derman has come to under-
stand horses. Each has a
different personality, he says,
though their language is often
quite similar. To avoid getting
kicked or bitten, "you just have
to know how to read them.
"Most of the time, when they
pin their ears and swish their
tail, you're in trouble. Observa-
tion skills are key to working on
horses," he says.
Perhaps the biggest chal-
lenge is getting paid. The horse-
racing world is inhabited by
transients, guys who sometimes
gamble away their animals'
medical bills.
There are other horse own-
ers who pay in full — and then
some. One man was so grateful
for Dr. Biederman's services, he
unloaded boxes of kielbasa and
pepperoni at his clinic.
Dr. Biederman, in his little
spare time, plays on a Jewish
hockey team. He lives in Wind-
sor, near the casino. His main
focus, however, is the clinic.
Helping sick horses feel better
makes Dr. Biederman feel won-
derful.
"To see them racing again
after a surgery," he says, "is
the greatest feeling in the
world." ❑

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