A Horse of Course
07/24/2014 11:13AM ● Published by Claudia Mosby
Photos: Kara Stewart
Panorama Equine Medical & Surgical Center in Redding
If we have a foot disorder, we go to a podiatrist; an eye disease, an ophthalmologist; a skin condition, a dermatologist. If we have an animal with any of these ailments, we go to a veterinarian, trusting he or she will be able to diagnose and heal whatever medical condition presents itself.
“Unlike human medicine, where we have various specializations, in veterinary medicine our training and the way we practice is far more general,” says Wallace Liberman, DVM, owner of Panorama Equine Medical & Surgical Center in Redding. Affectionately dubbed “Dr. Wally,” he says,“We have to become knowledgeable and good at practicing on all organ systems, but we often have a deeper interest in something specific.” That something specific, for him, is equine orthopedics.
A horseman since his early 20s, Liberman concentrated on equine in veterinary school and later specialized in it as part of a mixed practice in Humboldt County. In mere moments, he can summarize the horse’s evolution from beast of burden to athlete.
“Back in the day, the blacksmith was probably one of the most important and revered people in town,” he says. Today, facilities like his—once limited to university settings—have sprung up around the country, providing the shoeing services of the traditional blacksmith and intervention and treatment for a host of equine maladies.
Panorama, which opened in 1985, specializes in the diagnosis, imaging, medical and surgical treatment of orthopedic conditions like joint, tendon, ligament and axial skeletal problems. “We work mostly on sport horses, animals that are being used in competition, so most of them are injured athletes,” says Liberman who also sees patients in need of dentistry, gastrointestinal, dermatological, ophthalmological and respiratory treatment.
The facility’s main buildings sit on 15 acres in rural Redding and include an 8,000-square-foot hospital and 10,000 square feet of covered barn space. While recovering in the ICU stalls, patients can look out and see Betty, a research and therapy horse Liberman keeps within view of patients.“Horses are social animals,” he explains. “They do not do well in isolation.”
The induction anesthesia/recovery room, surgical suite, laboratory, shoeing bay, pharmacy and orthopedic barn are located within a short walk of each other. The facility also offers digital nuclear scinitigraphy (bone scanning), digital radiography and x-ray.
With its central location, Redding was the ideal spot for Liberman to relocate and expand full time into equine sports medicine. Clients and patients travel from several hundred miles in all directions, from Sacramento to Southern Oregon and from the coast to Nevada and other western states.
English and Western Performance as well as pleasure, trail and backyard horses are his staple, although Liberman has seen thoroughbreds. “Their sheer size and athleticism make horses difficult to treat, and when you do this work, you will get hurt,” says Liberman, who has been thrown to the ground, kicked, stomped, bitten and had a rib separated from his spine, yet still considers himself lucky. “You learn where to be and not to be (in relation to the animal),” he adds.
Establishing a good veterinary-client-patient relationship is essential. “After diagnosis, you have to come up with several different treatment options so that people can choose the best option for themselves and the patient,” he says. In the course of 32 years, not all treatments have met with success.
“Euthanasia is something we hold in high regard in veterinary medicine,” says Liberman, who has a separate euthanasia and necropsy room on site. “An accurate diagnosis is how you get final resolution. People live with that a lot better and when you do this, you are putting something to rest properly.”
In earlier years, Panorama employed a staff of 15. While it was good at the time, today Liberman prefers to see two to three horses a day, spending hours with each one to obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment.
“I don’t want to be a high volume practice, looking at a horse every 15 minutes,” he says. “I’m much better in complex situations. It is how I like to practice.”
www.panoramaequine.com • (530) 221-7004