April 2015 - Sporthorse Veterinary Services
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 23:05
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New facility makes Dr. Mark Silverman’s full-spectrum San Diego practice accessible to more horses.

It’s unlikely that Mark Silverman, DVM, MS, pictured himself working with high-speed video cameras and drones when he earned his veterinary degree in 1994. But those are among the tools used today at the leading edge of sporthorse care and, as such, Dr. Silverman is all over them.

Dr. Silverman’s practice, Sporthorse Veterinary Services, relocated from San Marcos to Rancho Santa Fe late last year and continues its progressive approach to whole horse care. Services range from a full array of preventative care to the use of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technology for evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation. Pre-purchase exams, soundness evaluations, lameness diagnoses and treatments, dentistry and podiatry consultations make up a typical practice day for Dr. Silverman. SVS offers both ambulatory and on-site clinic care, and all aspects of the practice combine a solid foundation in traditional medicine with select augmentative therapies and advanced technologies. The newly renovated facility for SVS is also home to two affiliates, the Southern California Equine Podiatry Center and Regenerative Veterinary Technologies.

In Dr. Silverman’s view, caring for sport horses begins with keeping them healthy and sound and goes well beyond that to helping them attain and sustain peak performance over a long lifespan. Working with farrier Ernest Woodward, Mark’s partner in Southern California Equine Podiatry Center, the high-speed camera and drone were used toward that end recently in the case of a barrel racer. Recording the horse’s run from a barrel-mounted camera, capturing motion at rates as high as 120 frames per second, and from an overhead perspective with the drone, enabled analysis of the horse’s motion in new ways.

Focused on the lower limbs, the technology helps reveal details of landing and loading patterns. This qualitative analysis allows for a better understanding of the loads and stresses experienced by the working athlete and how the horse copes with the challenges of sport. This kind of technology, Dr. Silverman explains, is not so much for diagnosing acute lameness as it is for enhancing and sustaining performance.

“We are looking at minimizing trauma and stress and extending careers,” he explains. “In most cases, sporthorses see most of their value when they’re older,” he notes of the high performance horses that comprise the majority of SVS’ clientele. From eight to 14 years of age is a span of peak performance for many elite equine athletes and sometimes this period is much longer.

Small and subtle details are often the difference makers in both longevity and performance. Dr. Silverman’s wife Tiffany Silverman is an accomplished dressage rider so he’s particularly well versed in how tiny improvements can affect scores. “The difference between winning and second can come down to a fraction of a percentage point, so we are thinking what can we do to make that Grand Prix horse’s half-pass a little smoother. The more accurate our tools are, the better the chance we can provide what he needs.”

Central Location

Dr. Silverman is excited about the new location and clinic facility for Sporthorse Veterinary Services. Its location in the heart of the San Diego County show scene is convenient for clients, from throughout San Diego County as well as parts of southern Orange and Riverside counties. The thoroughly revamped facility is well equipped. Areas for lunging, flexion tests and riding are situated for optimum evaluation, and turn-out space and an Equiciser are added amenities. The three-and-a-half-acre property will serve as the training base for Tiffany’s Unbridled Dressage, with room for three or four SVS clinic patients to stay as needed.

Along with new technologies, Dr. Silverman is pleased about advances in equine podiatry and increased understanding of the role the lower extremities play in horse health. In layman’s terms, equine podiatry focuses on “all the stuff that pertains to the lower limb,” Dr. Silverman explains. In veterinary terms, that’s the “distal digit,” an “incredibly complex structure that is not so well understood,” he says. It includes the soft tissues and bony structures and their ability to absorb shock and motion and to handle uneven terrain.  Ideally, equine podiatry is addressed as a team effort by veterinarians and farriers, along with the rest of the horse’s care team.

Dr. Silverman is among a group of podiatry experts that comprise the Veterinary Equine Podiatry Group. Working on a national and international level and focusing on podiatry from a performance standpoint, the group is in the early stages of forming a college of veterinary podiatry.

The veterinary version of a Renaissance man, Dr. Silverman brings a broad base of experience and knowledge to his work. In addition to earning his DVM from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, he has been a farrier, saddler, barn manager and a trainer. Graduate studies in biomechanics led to an internship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, working with elite human athletes. His personal studies led him to evolving expertise on the relationship between shoeing and the function of the hoof.

Now that most of the facility rehab is done, Dr. Silverman looks forward to resuming a lecture series that has long been popular among Southern California horseowners. No dates yet, but topics will likely include podiatry and nutrition and the educational sessions will be presented at the new clinic facility with help from various sponsors from the equine industry.


For more information on Sporthorse Veterinary Service, visit www.sporthorseservices.com or call 760-798-4850.