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Bozeman's Dr. Ray finalist for PRCA Veterinarian of the Year
Posted at 2:11 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 23:01:28-04

(Editor's note: PRCA media release)

COLORADO SPRINGS – The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is proud to announce and recognize the finalists for the 2019 PRCA | Zoetis Veterinarian of the Year Award.

Created in 2010 to spotlight and honor veterinarians who have dedicated time, talent and effort to the health and welfare of rodeo livestock, this award allows the opportunity to give back to these deserving individuals.

Members of the PRCA nominate a veterinarian whom they feel has shown extraordinary commitment to the health and welfare of rodeo livestock. Nominations are then considered by a review and selection committee comprised of industry experts and advocates who carefully reviews each nominee’s specific contributions to the health and welfare of rodeo livestock.

Additional criteria including the extent of involvement in the sport of rodeo and community involvement also are considered by the committee.

The recipient of the 2019 PRCA | Zoetis Veterinarian of the Year Award will be announced in mid-October and will be honored at the PRCA Awards Banquet at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Dec. 4.

The following six distinguished veterinarians have been selected as finalists.

Dr. Chris Ray, Bozeman, Mont.
Nominated by Brian and Lisa Anderson/Copper Spring Ranch

A recognized Equine Sports Medicine Surgeon, Ray has dedicated his life to the health, well-being, soundness and longevity of the rodeo-competitive horse. With the clinical focus of prevention, rehabilitation and soundness in the future, clientele of Ray’s include many past and present world champions of the PRCA and WPRA. Ray is known not only for his professionalism and compassion while working with livestock and their owners, but also as an individual who puts the needs of livestock before his own personal time and financial gain.

Dr. Benjamin Espy, San Antonio, Texas
Nominated by Kaycee Willbanks Colletti

Espy, a life member of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition, began volunteering at the San Antonio Livestock Show & Rodeo in 1997. While maintaining and continually improving the operating procedures regarding livestock movement, transportation and conveyance at the San Antonio Livestock Exposition, more than 60,000 animals move on and off the grounds during the 18-day run and under Espy’s watchful eye. With a passion for higher education, Espy works as an adviser to the students who receive the Veterinary School Scholarships through San Antonio Livestock Exposition. Espy also serves as a member of the PRCA Livestock Welfare Committee.

Dr. Heather Schneider, Hudson, Iowa
Nominated by Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days

Schneider’s passion for rodeo began long before becoming the exclusive arena veterinarian at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2010. Over the course of her tenure with Cheyenne Frontier Days, Schneider has filled numerous rolls including Contestant Committee Member, Veterinarian’s Assistant and Miss Frontier. Schneider was monumental in forging a partnership with Cheyenne Frontier Days and Colorado State University’s Equine Clinical Services Program, which has been designed to ensure the sport of rodeo and its livestock have qualified, dedicated and experienced veterinarians for years to come.

Dr. Edward Taylor, LaPorte, Colo.
Nominated by Tucson (Ariz.) Rodeo Committee

While never residing in the Tucson, Ariz., area, Taylor has served as the attending veterinarian for the past 32 years. The 1998 Arizona Equine Practitioner of the Year, he has served in the same capacity at Prescott Frontier Days, the Coors Showdown Rodeo, the RAM Turquoise Circuit Finals Rodeo, and many other rodeos and bull ridings. Taylor was instrumental in designing the animal care unit and animal care and emergency procedures for La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson and leads the annual review of animal welfare procedures. Taylor built a mobile equine practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., after serving as an equine surgeon in a hospital in Gilbert. He continued that service in Colorado after moving there in 2007. Taylor is also the Assistant Chief of Fire Operations for the Livermore, Colo., Fire Protection District.

Dr. Ed Gilsleider, Claremore, Okla.
Nominated by Linda Caffey, secretary of the Will Rogers Stampede

Gilsleider has been the on-call veterinarian for the past 15 years at the Will Rogers Stampede in Claremore, Okla. He and his family are at each performance, and he is available to contestants and the stock contractor 24-7 during the week of the rodeo. A pioneer in several orthopedic procedures to correct leg deformities in ratites (ostriches, emu and rhea), Gilsleider has transferred these techniques to other species, including equines and bovines. He is a published author and lectures in the United States and abroad. The 2016 Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association’s Food Animal Practitioner of the Year has a “never say never” attitude about working on anything that comes through his door. Gilsleider is a board member of the Tri-County C.A.S.A., Birthright, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He also serves on the board of the Claremore Chamber of Commerce.