Annie Eldridge puts her heart and soul into Settlers’ Run, her horse farm in Vass, N.C., and it means a lot to her when others care of her horses as much as she does.
So when she found kindred spirits at the NC State Veterinary Hospital, she did something special.
Last month, Eldridge presented Rich Redding, clinical professor of equine orthopedics and lameness, with a Coat of Excellence, a white lab coat honoring a faculty or staff member who profoundly touches the lives of an animal patient and owner. The coat, part of a $10,000 donation to the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Foundation, is embroidered with the name of the honoree and the animal or client.
For Redding’s, the coat was not the result of a single case, but a track record of exceptional care. “He has helped countless performance horses, both young and old,” Eldridge said. “He has often produced miracles for us. He’s tireless and never gives up.”
Because Setters’ Run Farm has both breeding and eventing horse training programs, Redding deals with both the younger horse developmental problems and adult horse competition injuries. He estimates that each year he performs surgery on about six of Eldridge’s horses.
“It’s a pleasure to work with an owner like Annie,” Redding said. “This means a lot coming from somebody like her.”
This is the second time Eldridge has recognized a clinician with a Coat of Excellence.
In 2015, she presented one to associate professor of theriogenology Scott Bailey, who has closely worked with Eldridge in the hospital’s equine reproduction service. Bailey and his team, Eldridge said, has helped her mares produce 15 foals over the past five years.
“No case is too difficult for him,” Eldridge said of Bailey.
Bailey called Eldridge an amazing horsewoman with a wonderful vision for her mares.
“At the beginning of breeding season we sit down and lay out the options,” he said. “She takes the time to do it and is very supportive of us. Along with her primary vet in Southern Pines we have great teamwork.”
Eldridge has worked hard to develop her program on Setters’ Run Farm, which is named after her four English setters. Once an event rider herself, Eldridge has had health issues that forced her to retire from competition in 2009. Since then, she has been devoted to her horse farm.
Eldridge is grateful to NC State’s equine team for helping her get to where she is today.
“We are lucky to have such a wonderful institution so close by,” she said. “I will always be a supporter — as all local horsemen should be.”
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine