In the western performance horse industry Weatherford, Texas is known as the “Cutting Horse Capital Of The World.” In 2000, three veterinarians joined forces to establish Weatherford Equine Medical Center in order to cater to the ever growing population of western performance horses in north-central Texas. From their small beginning 14 years ago the facility has blossomed into a twelve doctor referral practice that services horses of all breeds and disciplines. The veterinarians are specialized in surgery, internal medicine, reproduction, performance horse care, podiatry, and dentistry as well as overall general practice.
It became apparent as the operation grew and became more diversified that the reproduction division was outgrowing its allotted space. Therefore, in 2011 the second of the now three properties of Weatherford Equine was purchased and thus Weatherford Equine Breeding Center (WEBC) was born. WEBC is conveniently located 4 miles from the main facility on Highway 180 west of Weatherford. Since its inception the breeding center has grown to 120 mare stalls, 3 distinctively constructed stallion showcase barns and paddocks for stalled horses to have access to pasture turnout. The addition of a large covered free flow equiciser to accommodate the population of breeding performance horses that need to stay in shape while at their facility for breeding and embryo flushing will be completed in January 2015. Along with the safe and clean housing for horses, there are living quarters for intern veterinarians and visiting veterinary students on site.
Weatherford Equine Breeding Center is proud to stand some of the world’s finest cutting and barrel horse stallions in the industry. They are honored to be able to breed some of the best mares in the quarter horse industry as well and are beginning to develop a following for horse enthusiasts from other breeds and disciplines.
Dr. Justin Ritthaler is a co-owner of Weatherford Equine and is the head of the reproductive services. Dr. Ritthaler grew up in Wyoming and graduated veterinary school at Colorado State University. He went to Texas in 1999 and quickly started to develop his expertise in reproduction and performance horse work.
Dr. Gabe Young grew up in Iowa and graduated veterinary school at Iowa State University. Dr. Young completed his internship year at Weatherford Equine before joining Equine Medical Associates in Lexington, Kentucky. Weatherford Equine was fortunate enough to entice Dr. Young to return to WEBC in 2012. He has since rapidly developed a loyal following of his own and has been instrumental in procuring their oocyte aspiration services.
Weatherford Equine has extensive experience in equine reproduction and strives to offer the most advanced procedures available. They work hard to maintain their large herd of recipient mares (currently over 1000 recipients) to keep up with the demand for embryo transfer in their area as well shipped embryos from around the country. With the addition of Dr. Young they are now able to offer Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). Dr. Young aspirates mature and immature oocytes at Weatherford Equine then ships the oocytes to ICSI laboratories for sperm injection. Once the embryo reaches a 5-6 day blastocyst stage it is shipped back to Weatherford Equine for transfer into a recipient mare. This service greatly increases the convenience of breeding mares via the ICSI procedure by decreasing the amount of travel for the donor mare and has become a large part of the practice at WEBC.
WEBC has been freezing semen for five years and is USDA approved to process equine semen for international shipment. Dr. Ritthaler said,