Equine Hospital founder honoured

By Alana Christensen

With more than 40 years’ experience in the industry, equine vet and Order of Australia recipient Angus McKinnon finds it humbling to be recognised for his work in the veterinary sciences.

While the Queen’s Birthday Honours recognition came as a ‘‘complete surprise’’ for the equine reproduction specialist, he said the award was a reminder that no-one achieved anything alone.

Since starting the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital in 1988 alongside business partner Jim Vasey, Dr McKinnon has found himself supported by a strong and passionate team.

‘‘It’s the team that you work with that creates the results,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s the vets and support staff, those at the hospital and with research, they’re the people that should be recognised.’’

After graduating from the University of Melbourne, Dr McKinnon undertook further education at Ontario Veterinary College in Canada before teaching at Colorado State University in the United States.

A passion for reproduction has driven his extensive research in the area and seen him become a part of several world firsts, including the first foal to be produced from intracytoplasmic sperm injection using eggs from a live mare, and the birth of a rare donkey via embryo transfer from the biological mother into a surrogate horse.

‘‘It’s pretty exciting times when those things happen,’’ he said.

Outside research, Dr McKinnon said the progress that had been made in technology had revolutionised the industry.

‘‘It has just been fantastic and I’ve been very lucky to be involved in veterinary medicine when there’s been such diversity and improvements with the things we use,’’ he said.

‘‘I couldn’t go backwards, the equipment we work with now is just awe-inspiring. People put a lot of work in to get them there and we’re just the end users.’’

Having been published more than 65 times and having mentored more than 90 interns and 14 residents, Dr McKinnon is relishing the next chapter of the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital following its sale to the University of Melbourne.

With both himself and Dr Vasey continuing to run the facility, Dr McKinnon said he was pleased to see the hospital used to inspire and train the next generation of equine vets.

‘‘When we started we had seven boxes for the horses and now we have 44 with multiple paddocks and for us it’s a fantastic result to sell the hospital to an institute that will continue to develop it, train new vets and help us conduct research,’’ he said.

Dr McKinnon will be presented with the Order of Australia Medal in September.