Equine Vet Dr. Brad Newman Loves His Job

By  //  March 15, 2013

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DR. BRAD NEWMAN and dental tech Sheryl Wagner working on Pete, American Quarter Horse owned by Jim and Kerry Palermo. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

CENTRAL FLORIDA, USA – To some horse owners in Central Florda, Dr. Brad Newman is a hero, but the equine veterinarian shrugs off that suggestion. 

“I just want every day to be able to touch and help a horse,” Newman says. “I still can’t imagine my life doing anything else.”

r. Newman with mom and baby, specializes in equine breeding, mare and foal management. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

As the owner of Newman Equine in Cocoa, Newman’s sole focus as a veterinarian is horses. And next year he will celebrate 20 years of practice on the Space Coast.

He specializes in all areas of equine health with an emphasis on horse reproductive services.

His clinic offers house calls for emergencies, a wide array of preventive health services, dentistry, radiography, reproductive and medical care for horses either at resident’s homes or at his facility at 2005 Pluckebaum Road at Cocoa.

The practice has an eight stall barn on site and eight paddocks with the ability to board horses, breed mares and stand stallions.

“When I was 13, my horse was very sick. The local veterinarian suggested referral to The Ohio State Veterinary School,” Newman said.

THE NEWMAN EQUINE STAFF includes, left to right, Dr. Kim Moherman, Dr. Brad Newman, office manager Sue Gilman, and farrier and stable manager Scott Woodbury. (Image For SpaceCoastDaily.com)

“My Dad and I took my horse to the vet hospital and I was first exposed to the environment. All these people were there to help horses.  I knew that day that I had to become a horse veterinarian.”

Dedicating his future to becoming an equine veterinarian, Newman completed undergraduate studies and his doctorate in veterinary medicine at Ohio State. Dr. Al Gabel, the head of the equine department at Ohio State, had a profound impact upon his life and his career.

“He treated my horse when I was 13 and sparked my interest,” Newman said.

DR. NEWMAN putting a patient in a trailer for his trip home. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

“He was still a professor at Ohio State when I was in veterinary school there. I told him how he had influenced me at such a young age. I had a full circle moment years later when I was a practicing veterinarian and he brought his horse for me to treat. It was really an overwhelming feeling.”

He also credits a local vet near where he grew up in Ohio for giving him guidance and direction that helped shape his career in veterinary medicine.

“When I was 13, I walked into the office of Dr. Ray Houck and told him that I wanted to be a vet,” Newman said.

“He took me in and let me be in the office all I wanted. He was never too busy to help me.”

Another veterinarian who Newman cites as a role model and influence is Dr. Walter Threlfal, his equine reproduction teacher at Ohio State.

“He sparked my continued interest in horse breeding,” Newman said.

Challenges of Equine Veterinary Medicine

Fresh out of college and having earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine, Newman met Charlie Hill, a businessman who owned Hill Farms, a standardbred broodmare farm in Hilliard, Ohio.

“He gave me my first veterinary job,” Newman said. “Everything I learned about business I learned from Charlie Hill.”

DR. BRAD NEWMAN aboard his 8-year old American Quarter Horse gelding, “Rusty” (Haidas Lil Shorty), at the National Cutting Horse Eastern National Championships in Jackson, Mississippi. (Image For SpaceCoastDaily.com)

He stayed with Hill Farms for eight years before moving to Cocoa in 1993 and establishing his practice here.

The challenges of practicing equine veterinary medicine are a little different in Florida than in Ohio, but Newman said over the years he has adapted to the new surroundings.

“There are many native plants that are harmful to horses,” he said. “Most commonly here it’s lantana.”

Lantana is a flowering plant commonly planted in Florida as an ornamental shrub. When consumed by horses, the animal can die within a week from severe liver damage.

Another potential danger for horses in Florida is the West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitoes, and causes an inflammation of the central nervous system called West Nile encephalitis.

It can result in a general loss of appetite and depression along with fever, impaired vision, convulsions and coma.

“Prevention begins with mosquito control,” Newman said. “Also all horses should receive a vaccine against the West Nile virus.”

Colic Leading Cause Of Premature Death

Although a devastating illness, West Nile encephalitis is relatively rare compared to the most common ailment that Newman sees in his Space Coast practice.

“The most prevalent problem that I get emergency calls for is colic and abdominal pain.”

DOCTORS Brad Newman, center, and Kim Moherman, right, with Pepsi, American Quarter Horse owned by Maverick Multimedia Editor-In Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, left, and his wife Kerry. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

The term colic encompasses all forms of gastrointestinal conditions, which manifest as pain, and is usually caused by spasm of the intestine, frequently resulting from a blockage of the colon.

Among domesticated horses, colic is the leading cause of premature death, and its incidence in the general horse population has been estimated between 10 and 11 percent on an annual basis.

To help prevent colic, Newman recommends that horse owners employ a regimen of proper management emphasizing high quality hay, regular exercise, regular deworming and dental care, limiting grain-based feeds and dividing daily concentrate rations, establishing a set routine, minimizing stress and careful transport of the animals.

DOCTORS Brad Newman, right, and Kim Moherman evaluating ultrasound of uterus to verify pregnancy. (SpaceCoastDaily.com image)

He also said he can’t stress enough the value of dental care for horses.

From ages 2 to 5, a horse needs a dental exam at least twice a year,” he said.

“During this period a horse loses 24 deciduous (baby) teeth and gains 36 permanent teeth. This also is a time when we are asking a lot from our horses such as breaking, training and starting their competitive careers. Most major dental problems are preventable with proper dental maintenance during this time period.”

His comprehensive equine practice includes treatment for many common ailments and acute injuries, routine exams, diagnostic testing, medications and vaccinations.

College Professor

He also performs surgery when necessary to repair broken bones, treat infections and correct gastrointestinal disorders.

Although he maintains regular business hours at his clinic, his schedule always includes a degree of uncertainty and it is common for him to be called out in the middle of the night to treat a sick or injured horse or assist in the birth of a colt.

Dr. Newman with a kangaroo during his five months in Australia at Cornerstone Stud. (Image For SpaceCoastDaily.com)

Like his mentor Dr. Gabel, Newman has stayed active on the academic front by serving since 1999 as an adjunct professor at Brevard Community College in the Veterinary Technology Program.

Because of his reputation in equine reproduction, last year Newman was invited to serve and spent several months as resident veterinarian at Cornerstone Stud, a global thoroughbred horse facility exclusively designed for breeding and located in Angaston, Australia.

Newman is a true horse lover, has always owned horses and presently has two.

“Right now I have an eight-year old American Quarter Horse (AQHA) gelding named Rusty (AQHA registered name: Haidas Lil Shorty), that I show in National Cutting Horse Association competitions,” said Newman.

“I also own a 27-year-old AQHA mare named Gray (KHF Missle Bell) that is retired and a family pet,” he said.

“Working with horses has truly provided me a life-long education that is ongoing. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t learn something new from the horses I work with. The best thing is that horses are very intuitive and very smart. I enjoy getting to know their individual personalities. The worst thing is when they outsmart me.”

He said the field of equine veterinary medicine is tough and yet rewarding for those just entering the profession.

“My best advice would be to study hard, but also take some business courses,” he said.

“But most all, learn how to have fun with people and their horses.”

For information call 321-639-4242or log on to NewmanEquine.com

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