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Former CVM Patient on the
Track to Victory

Dr. Shannon Reed and Nate's Mineshaft

Nate’s Mineshaft was a 5-year-old thoroughbred racehorse running mid-level contests when a racing-related injury left him sore.

With a month of rehabilitation at the University of Missouri Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) — and the diligence of his new trainer, Austin Smith — Nate’s Mineshaft was back on the track.

Nate was not only racing again, but he was racing — and winning — higher stake races.

In fact, during his comeback to date, Nate’s Mineshaft has won five races — including two graded stakes races in Louisiana and one in Texas, one of which, as serendipity would have it, was a race named after his sire, the Mineshaft Handicap. Nate’s performance earned him kudos from the racing world and widespread media attention.

“It’s a Cinderella story,” said Shannon Reed, the MU veterinarian who led the MU veterinary team responsible for the rehabilitation of Nate’s Mineshaft. “Nate was purchased for less than $10,000 and has now won over a half-million (dollars).”

Nate was always fast and showed promise in the mid-level races. His success in the more competitive graded stakes is particularly impressive considering his injuries and his long road back to recovery.

Nate arrived at MU VMTH with serious inflammation in both front fetlocks. “They were the size of softballs,” Reed said. “He couldn’t even bend.”

Nate’s owners, Pete Reiman and Scott Reiman of Windy Hill Farm in Campbell Hill, Ill., chose to bring Nate to the University of Missouri Equine Clinic because of the advanced treatment options available. “They keep up with new treatments, and are on the cutting edge,” Scott Reiman said.

Reed said, “Racehorses experience the wear and tear of being an athlete. They need time to heal. We work with them to get them back to being the athletes that they are.” There is no masking the pain with medication, and, in Nate’s case, no steroids. The focus is on healing and injury prevention.

It is with this philosophy that veterinarians at the MU Equine Clinic approach the treatment of equine athletes.

The Reimans own a few dozen racehorses, and are firm believers in MU’s progressive approach to equine care. So much so that, since 2009, they have brought more than 35 of their horses to the University of Missouri for veterinary care, including Jake Wil Gallop, a 6-year-old who also returned to racing success after a similar therapeutic protocol.

“The three hours each way is time well spent,” Scott Reiman said. “I get an honest assessment of what’s going on. By the time I leave, I know what’s wrong.” Scott Reiman is impressed by MU faculty innovation and inventions, such as the Lameness Locator.

A crew of staff and students devoted around two hours each day for 30 days to Nate’s rehabilitation. During this time, Nate received a full range of therapeutic treatment, including a novel therapy known as Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP).

Interleukin-1 is a cytokine that stimulates the degeneration of cartilage damage and bone remodeling. IRAP treatments block Interleukin-1 in order to slow the progression of damage and decrease inflammation.

The horse’s blood is drawn and placed in a syringe to stimulate the production of a unique protein. After 24 hours, the protein is separated from the blood cells – and the concentrated plasma solution is injected into the horse’s joint. Because this treatment uses the horse’s own blood, there is no risk of disease transmission or immune rejection from foreign proteins.

Nate received IRAP injections into his fetlocks once a week for four weeks.

Nate also followed an exercise and rehabilitation regimen similar to those of human athletes: warm-up, range-of-motion exercises, cardio time on a treadmill, cool-down. Even Nate’s post-workout cooling device was an adaptation of one designed for human use. The Game Ready machine, donated by a VMTH client, uses a circulating system to keep cold water on the horse’s joints, thereby reducing inflammation.

For racehorses, such as Nate’s Mineshaft, stepping onto the equine treadmill is both a treat and a source of some frustration. The aim is to keep the horse at a steady walk or trot. The horse, of course, wants to run.

Nate’s Mineshaft is healthy enough to run now. And run, he has. He currently has a lifetime earnings of $638,214 of which $576,646 has been earned since his rehabilitation at Mizzou. He has won Horse of the Meet at both Fairgrounds Racetrack in New Orleans, LA and Lonestar Park in Dallas, TX.

“The entire staff at the University should be very proud of Nate's accomplishments,” said Pete Reiman. “Without Dr. Reed and her staff's excellent care and knowledge of what to do for Nate, he would never have accomplished what he has.”

The Reimans have supported student education by sponsoring student, intern and resident travel for on-site evaluation of racehorses and by donating two of their retired racehorses to the College of Veterinary Medicine teaching herd.

A 2012 graduate, Kim Doller, DVM, was one of the students who worked with Dr. Reed in treating Nate. One of the highlights of Doller’s education was traveling with Reed to Louisiana watch some of the Reimans’ horses race. Doller said that what she learned from this experience was that working in a clinic is generally pretty structured, but that working on site is different — sometimes requiring veterinarians to be more flexible and adaptable.

“It has been very exciting to work with racehorses. We are lucky to have horses of this caliber come through here,” said Doller. “Their victory is our victory.”

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Last Update: February 29, 2012