Off to the Races with Clayton McCook, DVM
On a normal Monday, Clayton McCook, DVM may see as many as 170 patients. The athletes he treats weigh around 1,200 pounds and can run up to 40 miles per hour. The Edmond veterinarian encourages Oklahomans to visit a quarter horse race at Remington Park to see his athletes in action. He says the doors are open, and there’s plenty to learn.
A lifelong horseman, veterinary work was always an aspiration. “I come from a long line of farmers and ranchers and my grandfather was a world-renowned breast cancer surgeon,” Clayton said. “It seemed like a natural fit to blend our love of animals with grandpa’s medicine. It sounds cliche, but this is what I wanted to do from a young age.”
Even with a clear goal in mind, Clayton calls completing veterinary school and launching his career “a tough hill to climb.” Clayton earned his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M in 2009. While completing an internship in equine sports medicine, he found his niche. “During my internship, I visited the track and saw the work equine veterinarians do, and I knew that was it for me,” Clayton said.
Clayton now works for Equine Sports Medicine as part of the Racehorse Division, where he says he enjoys the collaborative care and communication the practice provides. In this role, he works with quarter horses at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, and Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico.
Clayton’s care for large animals continues off the clock as a member of the Oklahoma Large Animal First Responders (OLAFR), the nonprofit formed to provide animal disaster response following the 2013 tornadoes.
His passion for equine care shows. As well as being a self-proclaimed “sucker for Seabiscuit,” Clayton calls his fourlegged patients athletes not animals.
“The horses are athletes and all athletes have the potential to get hurt,” he said. “My primary interest is lameness–how horses move, how to prevent injuries, and how to treat them when they happen. I am always working to limit injuries and keep the horses happy and healthy.”
And while he does his job, they do theirs. “Racing is in their nature,” Clayton explained. “They are born for racing. From a young age, yearlings are racing each other across the pasture. They know when they win and when they lose, and they enjoy their jobs.”
Clayton also notes positive progress in the field of horse racing, saying he is proud of the work he does and the horsemen and women he works alongside. But he says the best way to address the myriad of misconceptions surrounding horse racing is to see for yourself.
“We race four nights a week during the quarter horse season, and it’s free and family-friendly,” Clayton said. “You can also schedule a barn tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at the horses and how they are cared for.”
The quarter horse racing season is currently underway at Remington Park, now through June 3. Visit remingtonpark. com to see the schedule, or plan a barn tour at okqha.org.