At a May 6 Patterned Speed Horse game show honoring his great-grandfather Ted Crosby, a very young Nyle Crosby James is led through his first competitive barrel racing pattern by his mother, Ady Crosby, while steadied by his father Jeff James. Ted Crosby, 87, passed away March 30 of complications of prostate cancer. (Karen Griffiths/For Peninsula Daily News)

At a May 6 Patterned Speed Horse game show honoring his great-grandfather Ted Crosby, a very young Nyle Crosby James is led through his first competitive barrel racing pattern by his mother, Ady Crosby, while steadied by his father Jeff James. Ted Crosby, 87, passed away March 30 of complications of prostate cancer. (Karen Griffiths/For Peninsula Daily News)

HORSEPLAY: Equine veterinary services in short supply

SPLAWN LIVES! IN my April 22 column I mentioned how we horse owners missed the dedication and service provided by the now retired Drs. Bob Mowbray and Eric Splawn, adding Dr. Splawn had since past away from cancer. I’m so happy to say I was wrong! Reader Carol Johnson contacted me to say Dr. Splawn actually beat his cancer and is alive and well living in Florida with his wife Peggy! Carol shared how Dr. Splawn had a good laugh over my mistakenly saying he died.

I had promised to follow up that column by asking our current large animal veterinarian’s points of view as to why there’s no large animal service on the West End of the Olympic Peninsula. After it published I heard from a number of readers saying they’ve had trouble getting emergency vet care after hours for their dogs and cats as well. A few even making the long drive (often in the dark of night) over the Hood Canal to Small Animal Emergencies Animal Emergency and Trauma Center in Poulsbo, or Small Animal Emergencies Central Kitsap Animal Hospital in Silverdale only to find they’ve got too many patients in the waiting room and don’t have time for more. Some commented how, in the past, the local veterinarians got together and shared after hour calls on an emergency basis, lamenting, “Why can’t they do that now?” Horse Owners shared the same thought as to why their veterinarians aren’t doing that now, too. I don’t know. I will say through my own research, I discovered that, just like human medical doctors, there is currently a veterinarian shortage. And of those graduating vet school in recent years less than 5 percent chose to go into large animal practice. As a result, vet offices and clinics around the U.S. have been turning animals away because they are short staffed. Animal emergency rooms — where the job is most stressful — have it the worst, with some having to turn animals away.

There’s no denying we live in much more stressful times than we did 20 years ago. Armed with that knowledge motivates me to appreciate all the more the local veterinarians we do have. In a future column I’ll discuss what we can do to prepare for our own animal emergencies.

While not all responded to my inquiries, I did get a call back from Courtney G. at Sound Equine Veterinarian Hospital in Poulsbo. They treat equines, goat’s, alpaca’s and the like. She said weekly they offer scheduled farm calls in the Port Townsend, Sequim and Port Angeles areas, and if they have enough clients, then the third Wednesday of the month they will meet a group for a farm call in the Fork’s area. Just call the office and ask to be put on the Fork’s list.

June 1 is the next scheduled day in Forks. I think it’s certainly worth it to set up a client-animal-vet relationship in case there is an emergency. As for emergency calls, Courtney said it’s up to the veterinarian on call to decide if he or she wants to make the drive, adding, “if they go, it will cost a lot of extra money for travel time.”

Sequim veterinarian Dr. Cori Youngblood is now working with Sound Equine, however, when it comes to after-hours emergencies, she is in a rotation schedule with the other doctors. She makes farm call visits from PA to Chimacum on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursdays are her surgery days at the hospital.

If you have a horse trailer, and the Hood Canal Bridge isn’t closed, the hospital provides 24/7 emergency care, as well as hospitalization for intensive care, medical and surgical cases.

But how many horses in need of urgent care can endure loading up and riding in a horse trailer all the way to Poulsbo?

Sound Equine has fully equipped mobile veterinary units, complete with a portable x-ray machine, for farm calls. Which is why five years ago, I asked Sound Equine’s Dr. Claire Smith come out to perform a lameness exam on my horse Indy because she traveled with a portable x-ray machine. (HORSEPLAY: Carrying on the tradition: Children learn to ride | Peninsula Daily News)

Contact Sound Equine at 360-779-5557 or They’re located at 5065 NE Lincoln Road, Poulsbo.

On board

Coincidentally, I already had scheduled the very capable Dr. Melissa Board to come to my place May 1 for dental work on Lacey’s teeth. I waited until her hand was literally inside Lacey’s mouth before I tactfully started asking her questions, such as why she doesn’t extend her service area to the West End, and what she thinks can be done to lure a large animal veterinarian to set up shop there. Melissa, assisted by her able-bodied husband Zack Board, provides preventative and emergency services for horses and livestock, including small ruminants, alpacas, llamas, pigs, cattle, and poultry to clients in the areas of Port Townsend, Sequim, Port Angeles and Joyce.

She moved to Sequim three years ago from after learning there was a need when Dr. Splawn retired. I asked why she doesn’t travel further to service the West End.

“The biggest reason is we have so many patients here in the Sequim/Port Angeles/Pot Townsend area, and want to take care of them as best we can,” she said. “Andyou know, I’m a vet because I love animals. I want to take care of animals and their people. So, I feel terrible if can’t go help someone who’s our client when they need if we’re hours away out west and don’t have cell service. So, it’s really just about establishing boundaries.”

She has empathy for those owners living on the West side, but said she’s “no good to anybody if I’m stretched too thin, and too tired.”

I asked what suggestions she could give to entice a large animal vet to move to the Forks area.

She said the demographics show there isn’t a large enough human and large animal population, combined with a lower middle class income, to support a large animal vet moving there, especially since most graduates have large school debts to pay off. She said often clients on the west side typically aren’t willing to pay as much, or they avoid routine care, and just want to call a vet for emergencies, “and that’s not fair to the vet who’s trying to make a living.”

She said the best thing owners can do over there is to have a horse trailer, or have access to one, so they can drive to the vet, and to do that for regular care, too, to establish a relationship prior to an emergency.

For more information view her web site or phone 360-808-0222.

Tragic news

On April 29 I received the shocking news Terri Winters, 65, passed away, suddenly and without warning. According to her sister, Lisa Hopper, Terri was getting ready for work when she had an aneurysm that burst. I got to know what a sweet, caring soul Terri was during her 11 years coaching the Sequim High School equestrian team. She was also front and center of a very close-knit and loving family.

My heartfelt condolences go out to them all.

When a loved one passes away at 87 it’s not as shocking, yet still very grievous. On March 30, Ted Crosby, the wonderful Father and Grandfather of All Agnew Speedhorse riders passed away from prostate cancer. A tribute was held for him during last weekend’s Patterned Speed Horse Show at the Crosby Arena in Agnew. I’ll forever remember seeing Ted’s smile of delight at watching his granddaughter Ady Crosby, and friends Clara Duncan, Mishel Arthur (now Galloway) and Brooke Stromberg hang out —laughing and giggling — in and around his motorhome during Patterned Speed Horse and WAHSET shows, with his beloved wife Shirley, and daughter Pam, nearby and always willing to lend a helping hand.

Trail event

On Saturday May 20, 10 – 4 p.m. Bring the family to this Free Share the Trail Event hosted by Back Country Horsemen’s Mt. Olympus chapter. Family favorites include the Kid-friendly crafts, along with free pony rides for the kids! Information stations include Leave No Trace principles; why it’s important and how to do it (and let’s face it, everyone visiting the Olympic National Park and Forest want to see it in its pristine and glorious natural state!), Trail etiquette (including what to do when encountering horses, mules and lamas on the trail) and the many volunteer opportunities available.

Meet Public Land Managers from Olympic National Park,

Department of Natural Resources and the Olympic Discovery

Trail. Watch stock packing demonstrations, talk to bicycle experts about the best equipment and trails available for what type of riding and skills you have —or want to have.

You won’t want to miss how to apply pack saddles and gear on your livestock through the Packing Demonstrations. Lunch will be available by donation.

Littleton Horse Camp is located at the Mt. Muller trailhead. From Port Angeles drive about 5 miles past Lake Crescent and turn right on Forest Service Road 3071 where a sign reads Mount Muller–Littleton Loop.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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