By HARRIETTE BRAINARD
NEW HAVEN â€” No one who has spent any time with Andy Lott would disagree that he is good natured, likeable, caring and constantly on the move. A local veterinarian who works only with horses, Lott has been practicing in Vermont since 1998. His practice now covers an enormous area spanning much of central Vermont â€” from Chittenden County and the Stowe area to Manchester â€” and into New Hampshire. Consequently, Lott often is on the go seven days a week, day and night, partly because he finds it impossible to refuse care to any of his clienteleâ€™s stock.
For years, Lott, 36, has had his practice based in Warren, but he will soon be opening the first horse clinic of its kind in Addison County, and only the second such clinic in Vermont. Called the Valley Equine Clinic, it will be located on South Street in New Haven. The only other similar clinic in the state is in Milton.
Lott said he has been looking for a location for his clinic in Addison County since 2004, and finally found what he considers the ideal spot. Housed within the clinic will be a 12-stall heated barn, wash stalls, an area for surgery, isolation stalls in case of infection, and places to do outpatient procedures.
There will also be offices for both Lott and Keely Henderson, a local vet residing in Lincoln, who will be working with him.
â€œIn essence, it will resemble a very fancy barn,â€? said Lott. The barn is flanked by Lottâ€™s farmhouse and is surrounded by 100 acres of pasture and a polo field.
Lott, who is an avid polo player, grew up in Baltimore and graduated from the University of Maryland, where he majored in animal science. He attended veterinary school at the University of Georgia, and has spent the 10 years since graduation primarily in Vermont.
Following his first year in Vermont, in which he worked for the Middlebury Large Animal Hospital, he established his own equine practice in Warren. The emphasis of his practice has been on lameness and performance horses as well as preventative care.
Preventative care includes a great deal of chiropractic work and acupuncture, areas of care that have become increasingly popular in the horse world, Lott said. He noted that 50 percent of his practice is preventative care and lameness â€” essentially sports medicine for horses â€” while a quarter of his practice is routine care and the other 25 percent is surgery and other major illness treatment.
The clinic will have an ultrasound machine, as well as a digital radiology system â€” only the second clinic to have such equipment in the state.
Lott sold his farm in Warren and bought his current farm in New Haven this past August. Part of the farmâ€™s attraction for his equine hospital, he said, was the farmâ€™s location, size and price.
â€œWhen I saw the barn, I knew that it really lent itself to a conversion into a horse clinic,â€? he said, adding that moving back to Addison County was also an attraction. Lott said Addison County and the outlying area is an up-and-coming horse community, making the location of the clinic closer to a growing market.
â€œThere is beautiful open land in this area which allows for greater opportunity for growth, especially in the area of horse farms, which are becoming more and more popular,â€? Lott said. â€œThereâ€™s a great deal of business potential in this area.â€?
Lott said he liked the proximity to both the Burlington and Rutland areas, adding that his total practice area consists of 50 percent of clients in the Mad River Valley, and about 50 percent in the Middlebury, Burlington, Woodstock, and Rutland-Manchester areas, with a few folks in New Hampshire and other states.
BEACON FOR HORSE LOVERS
The greater South Street area of New Haven, where the clinic is located, and where Lott lives with his wife and two young boys, in particular has become a beacon for horse lovers. Boasting several hundred horses in the surrounding neighborhood, area farms now include three indoor arenas and apparently two more in the planning phase.
â€œThis area has a real horse community growing and thriving,â€? Lott said.
As part of his humanitarian mission, Lott also does veterinary work for the Thoroughbred Organization, particularly the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation headquartered in Kentucky, which is the largest thoroughbred rescue operation in the country â€” caring for about 1,200 horses at any given time.
Lottâ€™s new barn and clinic will be an area for these â€˜rescuedâ€™ horses to come to and be evaluated and treated before being adopted. There is a tremendous need in this area, Lott said, noting that â€œwithin a month of buying this place, we had 60 rescue horses, and had to get up a great deal of fencing immediately.â€?
He anticipates having a handful of these â€˜rescuedâ€™ horses at any given time at the clinic, with larger influxes each fall when the race tracks â€” Rockingham, Suffolk Downs, and Saratoga, to mention a few â€” close for the winter. â€œWhen the race season ends, many horses that have not been winning, are sent away,â€? Lott said. â€œI take a few of the horses, many of whom are injured, and give them a home, at least a temporary one, until a permanent one can be found.â€?
In addition to a refuge for thoroughbreds, the Valley Equine Clinic and farm is poised to play an increasingly central role in what is becoming a growing region of horse lovers.
â€œThere has been a huge increase in the horse population from the first time that I came here,â€? Lott said, noting that the influx of such farms will help keep Vermontâ€™s farmlands open. â€œThere are so many people moving up here from other areas in the Northeast, especially south of here, because there is so much open, affordable land.â€?
Such growth, Lott said, not only makes Addison County an ideal place to locate the clinic, but the economic boost should also be good for the area.