Equine doctor makes a difference without leaving home


Dr. Richard Markell donates time to therapeutic riding program.

As a sport-horse and dressage veterinarian, Dr. Richard Markell says he sometimes feels like a Ferrari repairman. He loves his job, but he feels the need to do something more for those who aren't a member of the competitive horse world. And that is why he gives his time and talents to a therapeutic riding program for the disabled.

At 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6, at the AAEP Convention in Las Vegas, Dr. Markell is taking part in the Equitarian Initiative, an afternoon program showcasing equine humane efforts around the world. His session is called “Making a difference without leaving home.”

For nine years Dr. Markell has worked with the Shea Therapeutic Center, donating time on Wednesdays to care for 30 horses involved in the center's therapeutic riding program. “I just love it,” says Dr. Markell, owner of Ranch and Coast Equine Practice in Encinitas, Calif. “As Winston Churchill said, ‘We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.'”

Dr. Markell wants to encourage more veterinarians to donate their time or money, in big ways or small. “We are so fortunate to have our education and skills,” he says. “But we don't have to fly to Mongolia to make a difference. We can do it in our own communities in our own ways, whether it's doing two free dentistries a month or volunteering one shift a month at an emergency center.”

During his session, Dr. Markell will help his colleagues determine where and how they, too, can get involved in charitable giving. First, he says it's about doing what you love. “My joy comes from treating horses, not serving on boards of directors, so that's what I do,” he says. Next, he gives recommendations for finding a reputable program with which to work, including checking the group's nonprofit status, checking its annual financial report, and talking with other donors.

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