It was one of those eureka moments.
In early 1992 veterinarian Kathleen Anderson drove through the front gates and down the dirt and gravel road at the Fair Hill Training Center. The barns were in tatters. Top-flight horses non-existent.
The facility was on the brink of bankruptcy—for a second time.
“I remember looking around and saying, ‘This will be my home,’ ” said Anderson. “The rolling countryside was striking. There wasn’t much business and there were major problems, but I saw it as a huge opportunity.”
Anderson turned up at the Cecil County, Md., facility to fill in for Dr. Fritz Oppenlander for a few weeks while he was away. When he returned, Anderson offered to purchase his practice.
“When I invested in the practice, I needed to make the training center work,” she explained.
“There were barn owners and trainers in the same boat, so we formed a management team that ran Fair Hill as if we owned it.”
Within a year they were in the black. Anderson has been the president of the Fair Hill Condo Association for 11 years.
“Kathy is exceptionally organized and diligent,” said trainer Bruce Jackson. “She has a well-rounded approach to her practice and managing the training center. Today, we think it’s the most innovative training center in America.”
She’s had a lot of favorite patients over the years, however none can match the magic of Barbaro.
“Beautiful and kind with great composure, desire and competitiveness,” Anderson remembered. “We all feel a deep sense of loss that won’t go away. Still, for all those that Barbaro touched, he occupies a piece of everyone’s heart.”
Growing up in Merritt, British Columbia, Can., Anderson rode western and later competed at rodeos and three-day events. She galloped horses in the morning at Marquis Downs and then landed a spot as a groom with the Canadian Equestrian Team.
She got an inside peek at the equine veterinary world. While earning a degree in veterinary medicine from Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatchewan, she met Dr. A. Martin Simensen at the 1982 World Championships. A top U.S. Equestrian Team vet, Simensen offered Anderson an internship then launched her practice in 1986 under his watchful eye in South Hamilton, Mass. When Suffolk Downs hit hard times in 1990, Anderson migrated south with stints at New Jersey tracks and Philadelphia Park.
After the birth of her son John, Anderson settled in at Fair Hill.
Earlier this year Dr. Charles C.M. Arensberg bought into Anderson’s Equine Veterinary Care Clinic, located next to Michael Matz’s barn. The two vets, along with Jackson and Buddy Jones, are partners in the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Chamber that opened in mid-June.
The $500,000 machine provides hyper oxygenation that reduces swelling and enhances oxygen delivery to injured tissues where circulation is impaired. With increased oxygen, tissues heal faster, allowing re-growth to occur more quickly which reduces the amount of adhesions and swelling.
Anderson lives a few furlongs away in Lewisburg, Pa. in an 18th century stone farmhouse with John, 16 and daughter Quinn, 10. She regularly rides her horse through the gorgeous vistas of Fair Hill.
“I’m incredibly fortunate to be living and working here,” said Anderson smiling broadly. “We’ve got all these wonderful amenities and I’m able to work with top-notch horses that continually demonstrate their excellence.”