Canadian WEG Officials: Donald Larry Hamilton

Equestrian Canada caught up with Donald Larry Hamilton, who has been appointed as a Vet Commission 3 Member for the 20178 World Equestrian Games.

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By: Equestrian Canada |

Four Canadians have been selected as officials for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Mill Spring, NC:

  • Donald Larry Hamilton of Saskatoon, SK – Vet Commission 3 (Endurance) Member
  • Elizabeth “Lib” McMullen of Tottenham, ON – Dressage Appeal Committee Member
  • John “JT” Taylor of Mono, ON – Jumping Ground Jury Member
  • Cara Whitham of Stoney Creek, ON – Dressage Technical Delegate (TD)

Equestrian Canada caught up with Donald Larry Hamilton of Saskatoon, SK. Hamilton has been appointed as a Vet Commission (VC) 3 Member, responsible for providing veterinary care and oversight for the endurance portion of the games.

Hamilton’s appointment to VC 3 recognizes the excellence of his lengthy veterinary career, spent almost entirely in his home province. He grew up on a small farm in central Saskatchewan before attending the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine. There, Hamilton earned three degrees, including Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

Hamilton has now taught at his alma mater for almost four decades, and currently holds the position of Professor Emeritus in the Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences. His research focus on equine renal and acid/base physiology and ion channels is directly applicable to the assessment of competition horses and their health.

It was at the University of Saskatchewan where Hamilton’s colleague, Dr. Patricia Dowling – an avid endurance rider herself – introduced him to the sport. Hamilton was immediately drawn to the biological challenges of endurance, which led to his eventual certifications as a 4* Official Veterinarian in Endurance, a 3* Endurance Veterinary Treatment Official, and an FEI Permitted Treating Veterinarian.

“A sport where horse and rider compete for up to 100 miles in less than 24 hours…” mused Hamilton. “As a veterinary physiologist, I became immediately interested because of the amazing physiological ability of these horses to run ultra-marathons. Also, as I have said many times, I stayed with the sport as an endurance control vet because of the owners and riders who are, in addition to being wonderful people, very responsible and knowledgeable riders.”
Veterinary responsibilities vary greatly between disciplines, so Hamilton’s specialized background has made him a sought-after veterinary resource in the endurance world.

“We are responsible, with the rider, for the welfare of the horse,” explained Hamilton of the role of VC 3. “Endurance is an aerobic sport and, in addition to lameness, we try to detect the horse that may be exceeding its ability to remain hydrated and not become excessively tired. As an endurance vet, we try to prevent problems by declaring the horse as not fit to continue when we suspect an impending issue which may compromise the welfare of the horse.”

Hamilton will work with the VC 3 President, Foreign Veterinary Delegate, and nine other members to determine if each horse competing at WEG is fit to continue. The collaborative nature of the commission helps to ensure not only that the horses receive the best care, but also that evaluation standards remain consistent across all competitors.
“Selection is an honour and I feel privileged,” concluded Hamilton. “It is a great way to cap a career in veterinary medicine.”

EC would like to congratulate all four Canadian WEG officials on their appointments. More information on the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games can be found here.