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Santa Ynez Valley Mourns Loss of Equine Veterinarian Doug Herthel

Doug Herthel Click to view larger
Equine veterinarian Doug Herthel co-founded the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center with his wife, Sue, in 1972 and later co-founded Platinum Performance.  (Courtesy photo)

The Santa Ynez Valley and equine community was shocked to learn that Doug Herthel, veterinarian and co-founder of Platinum Performance, passed away Wednesday from Lewy body dementia.

“Doug succumbed to a 17-month long, hard fought battle with Lewy body disease, a progressive and aggressive form of dementia,” his sons Mark and Troy Herthel wrote on their Facebook pages.

Herthel is an alumni of U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and founded the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center with his wife Sue in 1972. 

Herthel has made numerous breakthroughs in abdominal surgery, fracture repair, regenerative medicine and nutrition therapy.

In 1996 Herthel developed and founded Platinum Performance, a supplement which helps heal equine patients after surgery. His line of products have expanded in the past three decades to include health supplements for other domestic animals and for people.

His son Mark now runs the company based in Buellton. Herthel’s youngest son Troy works at Alamo Pintado as an equine surgeon.

Herthel was notably the veterinarian for President Ronald Reagan during his tenure at Rancho del Cielo, commonly known as the Western White House at the top of Refugio canyon.

“The horses roamed 680 acres on the President’s ranch. There were a lot of opportunities for them to get hurt out in nature,” said John Barletta, one of Reagan’s riding partners and Secret Service members in an excerpt from the blog post on the Platinum Performance website.  

“I remember one time,” he continues, “I was looking at the horse that I rode, Gualianco, which was one of the President’s horses. He was a gray Arabian, and he looked just like the President’s horse. That was on purpose of course, so someone couldn’t tell us apart from a distance,” says Barletta.

family photo with President Ronald Reagan
Doug Herthel with wife Sue and son Mark and President Ronald Reagan at the Western White House in an undated photo. (Herthel family photo)

“I’m looking at him one day, and there’s a drop of blood at the back of his mouth. I open his jaw and his jaw was loose. I called Dr. Herthel, and he was pretty sure the horse had a broken jaw,” Barletta remembers.

“The road to the President’s ranch is very treacherous. So Dr. Herthel said, ‘instead of bringing him down, if you’ll assist me, I’ll come up, and we’ll treat him on the ranch.’ I thought, ‘dear Lord, me assist you? Well, OK.’ I called back to the White House to get the President’s permission, and he said, ‘do whatever you have to do. Whatever the vet says.’ The President had a tremendous respect for his veterinarians,” says Barletta.

“He always went to the experts for the care of the horses and let them do their jobs. He knew people like Dr. Herthel knew best.”

The Mayo clinic describes Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia.

Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory and motor control.

The Herthel family asks for privacy at this time and said that when services are arranged, they will announce the details.

[Click here for more stories from the Santa Ynez Valley Star.]

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