The Doctor is in …

The Doctor is in …

Animal lovers 24/7, these Adequan® Select World competitors are veterinarians at their day jobs.  

Dr. Lorraine Luba

text size

By Abigail Boatwright for The American Quarter Horse Journal

Veterinarians have channeled their passion for animals into a career caring for them. Some veterinarians even spend their off time with animals. For these Adequan® Select World competitors, and several other competitors, horses are as much a part of the fabric of their lives as their veterinary vocation.

Dr. Lorraine Luba

A veterinarian for 36 years, Dr. Lorraine Luba has worked with small animals, horses, livestock, racehorses, and she’s been running a small-animal practice now for 30 years. Lorraine has spent her life around horses. Her husband, Norm, is the AQHA second vice president on the AQHA Executive Committee. When her children, Christopher and Colin, were younger, the Louisville, Kentucky, resident spent her often-limited time off supporting them at AQHA competitions. Now that her children are grown and she’s added more veterinarians to her practice, Lorraine feels that her time for involvement with AQHA competition has come, and she’s making the most of it.

“I have been afforded the luxury of being able to pull back at the practice some and go (compete) more than I ever have before,” she says. “I worked every Saturday of my 36 years, unless I specifically took it off. When Norm got on the Executive Committee, I realized there were opportunities I didn’t want to miss.”

Dr. Luba says her expertise has helped with caring for her own horses, but even more, has given her connections she can consult with specialists in equine medicine.

“I’ve got people on speed dial to ask about what’s the best antibiotic right now, for example,” she says. “Bacteria have changed. Diseases are always one step ahead of us. And there’s always new technology and new treatments. I have access to really good care and veterinarians that I can pick their brains on best care.”

After two hip replacements, riding is no longer in the cards for Lorraine, but she’s happy to be standing at the lead shank of 2014 red roan gelding Goodtogetaninvite, aka “Gus,” in halter and showmanship. The gelding is by Good To Know and out of Heartfelt Invitation by Invitation Only.

“Just getting the chance to come to show and finally do something with my horse, it’s what we’ve worked so hard for,” she says.

This is Dr. Luba’s third visit to the Adequan® Select World, and she’s enjoying this first trip to the Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth, Texas. While she’s working some – checking blood work and answering the occasional call from the practice, she’s counting this as a vacation and competition all in one.

“I love all of these guys,” she says of her fellow Select competitors. “They make it fun. And I’ve met so many new people at this show than even last year. This is a fun group, it’s a lot more laid back. Not quite so intense as some of the other shows.”

Dr. Gloria Leopard

Dr. Gloria Leopard loves cats. Although she’s worked in equine reproduction early on, she’s been a cats-only veterinarian for 23 years.

“No matter what the cat does to me, I can still work tomorrow,” Dr. Leopard says. “Not so much in the horse world or the dog world. And I love cats, and I’m really good with them.”

The Purcell, Oklahoma, resident barrel races and competes in stake race. She says she uses her veterinary expertise to care for the animals her family has on the farm – she does all her own breeding, for example. And she uses her equine connections to place rescue cats.

“Sometimes I help rescue groups with cats that can’t be placed in homes because they’re semi-feral, for example,” Gloria says. “I help find barn homes for them.”

Balancing veterinary work with her horses has been difficult, she says. So she’s had to get creative.

“It’s hard to keep my horses fit because by the time I get home I’m exhausted,” Dr. Leopard says. “I work six days a week, and then I have four open horses, trying to get them fit. So I did buy an exerciser. I rush, rush, rush to fit everything in. It’s very tiring, but I just do it. I don’t even have to think about it.”

She brought two horses with her to the Adequan® Select World: Docs Cocoa Revenge, a 2012 buckskin mare nicknamed “Coco,” and Skylers French Peach, a palomino mare called “Peaches.” Peaches, in particular, is special to the veterinarian. Dr. Leopard bred and raised her, naming her after one of her daughters. She’d been sold and Dr. Leopard lost contact. Years and several owners later, Peaches was found in poor condition, and Dr. Leopard moved heaven and earth to get her back. At 18, this was most likely the mare’s last AQHA show.

Dr. Leopard and Coco were fourth in stake race, and placed 12th in barrel racing. Peaches was sixth in stake race. She says she’s been surprised at how quick her fellow Select speed-event competitors have been. 

“I thought it would be a little bit easier to place, but they’re really good – it’s very competitive,” she says.

Dr. Lon Lemon

Dr. Lon Lemon was a small-animal veterinarian for 47 years. While he didn’t treat his own horses, that association with other veterinarians helped build long-term friendships with equine practitioners whom he consults for his own horses’ care.

Dr. Lemon is from Gretna, Nebraska, and he competes in roping with his horses. He’s been to AQHA world shows 38 years in a row – 41 in all. He’s amassed thousands of points to get there, along with seven world championships, several reserve world championships and numerous high-point titles.

“I’ve enjoyed the people, the competition, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have nice horses,” he says. “I enjoy working with a high-quality horse, and we’ve raised most of ours ourselves. I like that the smaller operation can be successful on their own, if they’re persistent.”

Having been retired for about two-and-a-half years, Dr. Lemon is taking full advantage of the extra time with his horses. He wonders how he fit everything in when he was working full time.

“I’m still doing the same things, I’m still spending the same amount, if not more time with the horses, but I get to enjoy it a little bit more. I’m breeding more. Retirement has made the daily operations a little bit easier,” Dr. Lemon says.

He enjoys going to the Adequan® Select World because of the close-knit community.

“I really enjoy the Select because particularly in roping, I know most of the competitors and it is a much friendlier atmosphere at the Select (World) than it was (at the World Show) in Oklahoma City,” Dr. Lemon says.

With Iscream For Icecream, a 2008 chestnut mare, Dr. Lemon placed 12th in heading and 14th in heeling. With HA Jackie The Gypsy, a 2006 sorrel mare, he placed seventh in heading and heeling.