The University of Louisville Equine Industry Program announced today that veterinarians Dr. Bill Rood and Dr. Tom Riddle have been chosen as the 25th recipients of the John W. Galbreath Award, given annually since 1990 to persons who have created and led successful equine business enterprises.
“We recognize people, and their organizations, who have impacted the horse industry in a positive way through the development of a meaningful business enterprise that serves the equine world,” said Tim Capps, the director of the Equine Industry Program. “We look for the difference makers, the innovators who saw opportunities and turned those situations into reality, and Bill Rood and Tom Riddle exemplify the entrepreneurial mindset.”
Today, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital is one of the most renowned equine health care facilities in the world, known for its world-class clinicians, superior facilities, and outstanding service, but at its founding in 1986, success was far from certain.
The two veterinarians whose names are attached to the practice group had first started working together in 1982, when the Thoroughbred industry, and the horse industry in general, was experiencing an unprecedented boom. Foal crops were growing steadily every year, and commercial activity was at record levels, with auction average prices and stud fees climbing at sometimes double-digit levels. In fact, Lexington, Kentucky, home to their practice, seemed more like a mining town during gold rush days than a sedate southern city with a long heritage in the breeding of fine horses.
By the time Rood & Riddle was launched in 1986, however, the picture had clouded up a bit. The commercial “bubble” was showing signs of stress and the 1986 Tax Reform Act would become the catalyst for a significant downturn throughout the industry. Lexington went from boom town to nervous town by the late 1980s, on the front end of a decline in the Thoroughbred foal crop that would eventually reach about 15,000.
“In the early ‘80s, the horse industry in central Kentucky was growing at a rapid rate, with more and more people getting involved in the horse business as a business,” said Bill Rood. “There were a lot of investors in breeding stock who wanted to keep their horses in Kentucky, so all the service providers--farms, vets, farriers--benefited from this growth. We knew that Hagyard, Davidson, and McGee was a long-established practice group in the area, but felt there was certainly room for another such practice, so we decided to go forward in 1986, despite the signs of a downturn in the industry. It was a risk, but one we thought would pay off.”
Today, it is apparent that the risk taking paid off, since Rood & Riddle’s reputation for excellence and innovation is worldwide, a model for veterinary operations on any scale. The hospital is located on 24 acres on Georgetown Road just north of Lexington, only short trip from the Kentucky Horse Park and the many farms that dot the bluegrass landscape.
There are nine barns on the property, including surgical centers, a podiatry unit, a reproductive center, a colic intensive care unit, and a similar neonatal facility, plus areas for the latest diagnostic equipment (MRI, treadmill endoscopy, nuclear scintigraphy, plus a laboratory and even holding areas for “outpatient” horses.
In 2007, Rood & Riddle opened its own pharmacy, which carries standard medications and is also capable of compounding drugs as needed. The pharmacy carries pharmaceuticals for both horses and companion animals.
In 2013, Rood & Riddle opened its first “out of market” facility, a hospital in Saratoga Springs, New York, a traditional “hotspot” for racing, training and breeding horses in upstate New York.
The practice employs 50 veterinarians and has a staff of over 200, who provide health care services to thousands of horses annually, including a burgeoning sport horse population. Rood & Riddle has an active “externship” program for students in accredited veterinary schools, and provides a total of 15 internships, which are one-year paid positions offered to veterinary school graduates who aspire to either residency status or private practice. The Rood & Riddle program has “graduated” 283 practitioners from veterinary schools around the globe.
We’re certainly proud of what Rood & Riddle has become,” said Tom Riddle. “But, we’ve even prouder of the good work our vets and staff continue to do in taking care of the animals who have been entrusted to us. Every day is a labor of love.”
The Galbreath Award presentation will take place on Thursday, Nov. 20, at the University Club on the University of Louisville campus.