Coffs Harbour veterinarian Dr David Johnson will be taking a short break from looking after local horses to head to the Beijing
Coffs Harbour veterinarian Dr David Johnson will be taking a short break from looking after local horses to head to the Beijing

Horse doctor in demand

By MEL MARTIN

HIS training may be a little less rigorous than most, but Coffs Harbour veterinarian David Johnson is nonetheless getting ready for 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Dr Johnson will head to Hong Kong for a month in 2008, where he will care for competing horses worth millions of dollars in the lead up to and during the games.

"We'll have a fully equipped hospital with all the latest equipment, and all horses flying in are kept there in quarantine," Dr Johnson said.

"Because they're in quarantine, the horses can't leave the area at all, so if they get sick they have to be treated on site.

"We'll be treating everything, from minor day-to-day ailments to sporting injuries.

"We will also be responsible for giving the horses appropriate medication, because horses, like the riders, are drug tested."

Dr Johnson will be part of a team of 10 veterinarians ? five Australians, two Americans, two English, and one German ? running the specially-designed veterinary hospital, and officiating some competitions.

For him, it will be a great opportunity to bring new skills back to Coffs Harbour.

"Some of the vets I'll be working with are leaders in their field, and to work with these people means I'll be able to learn a lot," Dr Johnson said.

But before the big day, Dr Johnson will spend some time in Hong Kong next August for the test event.

"The problem in Hong Kong is that it's very hot with 95 per cent humidity, so there is a concern about the horses overheating," he said.

"This will be a chance to iron out any issues."

Caring for some of the best horses in the world is not an opportunity afforded to anyone, and Dr Johnson's track record with the Adelaide Horse Trials ? one of the world's top equestrian competitions ? and no doubt his experience working as a volunteer at the Sydney Olympics vet hospital had plenty to do with it.

"It's through working at that level that I was invited to go to Hong Kong," Dr Johnson said.

"It's a great honour to be recognised and asked to be there."



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