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UF professor heads for Paris this summer as team veterinarian for Team Australia’s equine athletes

Dr. Robin Bell, an equine sports medicine specialist, is pictured with a horse at the UF Veterinary Hospital at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida, where he is based.

Dr. Robin Bell, an equine sports medicine specialist, is pictured with a horse at the UF Veterinary Hospital at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida, where he is based.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — From his native Australia to Florida and next to Paris, Robin Bell, B.V.Sc., lives and breathes elite performance horses.

As a clinical professor and equine sports medicine specialist at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Bell spends his days safeguarding the health and well-being of some of the world’s most exceptional equine competitors. He is one of a team of veterinary specialists based at the UF Veterinary Hospital at World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida.

But his passion extends far beyond the hospital’s walls. Bell has the distinct honor of serving as a longtime team veterinarian for Team Australia, a role that will soon take him to Paris.

For Bell, the competition marks his third tour on equestrian sport’s grandest stage, a journey that traces back to his youth, when he rode and participated in eventing, even during his veterinary training. Since joining the Australian team in 2013, including stints in Rio and Tokyo in 2016 and 2020, respectively, Bell has played a pivotal role in preparing the nation’s equine athletes to thrive under the intense international spotlight. In Paris, his responsibilities will focus on the Australian show jumping team, and will include meticulously monitoring each horse’s health to ensure peak performance.

“Being part of Team Australia is a dream come true,” Bell said. “I’ve been involved with elite equestrian sport since before veterinary school and have continued to compete in low-level show jumping ever since. So to be able to combine my expertise with my lifelong passion at the highest level is incredibly rewarding.”

As a team veterinarian, Bell’s role involves monitoring the horses’ health, performance and recovery before, during and after competitions. In this past year, leading up to Paris, he has traveled extensively to qualifying events across the U.S., Canada and Europe to evaluate horse-and-rider combinations vying for selection.

During the world-stage events, Bell’s days start before 6 a.m. and often don’t end until after 8 p.m., as late as 11 p.m. on competition nights. He watches every ride, administers treatments when needed and ensures optimal recovery after travel to and from competitions.

“These competitions bring immense pressure, and there are always curveballs clinically,” Bell said. “But we have a strong, skilled team that works well together to keep the horses at their peak.”

Balancing his role with the Australian equestrian team and his UF responsibilities is a juggling act, but one he welcomes.

“My work with Team Australia complements my daily job amazingly well,” he said. “I get to apply the same approaches I use with the elite horses I treat at UF, just at the highest international level.”

UF has supported Bell’s role by providing relief coverage during his extended absences. His colleagues have embraced the opportunity, watching livestreams of Australian competitors during gaps between cases.

“We are honored that one of our faculty members gets to be part of such an incredible experience,” said Diane McFarlane, D.V.M., Ph.D., a professor and chair of Bell’s college academic department, large animal clinical sciences. “We’ll of course be cheering for our American team, but also for Robin and the Australian equestrians every step of the way.”

About the author

Sarah Carey
Public Relations Director, College of Veterinary Medicine

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