Horses with mobility or performance issues have a new arena for diagnosis and treatment at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). 

The Blacksburg, Va., arena’s open space was designed to accommodate clinicians to conduct medical and performance assessments. 

“A safe, reliable surface is incredibly important for a lameness or performance exam,” says Lauren Trager, an assistant professor of equine sports medicine. “This new arena offers us the opportunity to evaluate the horse at all gaits.” Examining horses while they are moving tends to lead to a more precise diagnosis. 

The new outdoor arena is fitted with all-weather surfacing to allow year-round use. The arena was built to allow further collaboration between farriers, equine surgeons, and equine sports professionals. The arena is large enough to accommodate riding the horses, as the evaluation under the saddle can be an important part of the examination and diagnostic process, Trager says. “It’s helpful to have the ability to ask the rider to get on [the horse] and demonstrate what they’ve been feeling. … That’s only feasible if you have an arena that is a suitable size for riding.”

The arena was also deliberately placed next door to the podiatry barn, where Travis Burns, associate professor of practice in large animal clinical sciences and chief of Farrier Services at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, one of CVM’s campuses, unites the skills and experience of farriers with the college's veterinary specialists to provide therapeutic foot care for horses.

“The clients I have spoken with about the arena have all been very enthusiastic,” Burns says. “[The arena] will dramatically help provide diagnostic information on the horses brought to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for lameness or performance issues.”

The new arena is just one of the ways Virginia Tech has sought to expand its robust veterinarian schools. In recent years, the school’s four campuses have seen a new soundness clinic, as well as adding more faculty and staff to its large veterinarian and farrier studies programs.

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