Whenever I would ask someone for the referral of an equine dentist I was always referred to Melissa Ambrose. So, on this very warm day in June I am meeting Melissa and Ole Alcumbrac, DVM, with whom she works in tandem, for the first time at his White Mountain Animal Hospital in Lakeside, Arizona. Dr. Ole Alcumbrac (Dr. Ole for short) is one of the best veterinarians in the industry of veterinary medicine. It was a joy getting to know Melissa and Dr. Ole and a privilege to have Dr. Ole examine my horse and ask me questions concerning the care of my horse before Melissa performed the dental procedure.
When you look at Melissa next to a 1200-pound animal you quickly realize she is small but mighty. Melissa feels it’s important to educate her clients, so they understand the value and importance of regular dental care for the horse’s teeth to break down his food efficiently and carry his bit and perform at his full potential. Her introductory to horse dentistry is a lesson in itself as she opens her lap top computer and explains the anatomy of your horse’s mouth. She is passionate about her work and uses only the best state-of-the-art power tools for all procedures.
Melissa Ambrose, CEqD, is Certified by the International Association of Equine Dentistry; she is a Graduate of the Texas Institute of Equine Dentistry where she studied under renown equine dentist, Randy Reidinger.
Melissa and her mother came to Linden when she was only one years old and except for a few years in Texas she has spent her life here. Her mother always kept a horse while she was growing up in Linden and the horses became Melissa’s life. She rode a thoroughbred mare and considers that part of her life an ‘incredible gift’. Growing up she spent more time with horses than with friends. When Melissa says to you, “Horses are my passion,” you believe her because she lights up the room with those words.
As life marched on she found herself in Texas living and working in the corporate world. In reality she really wasn’t happy and knew there was something else she should be doing. One day an equine dentist worked on one of her horses and she could see it made a difference in her horse’s performance and wellbeing. So, in Melissa’s words she said, “Dadgum, I think I can do that.” She quickly withdrew her 401K and enrolled in school for equine dentistry. In her words, “I jumped through the hoops and paid my dues.” She has worked as an equine dentist for 12 years now and has never advertised. Her business has been built on referral only; it is apparent her reputation built her thriving business today. She cares about the horses and their health and always follows up with her clients after procedures. I don’t know about you, but I have never had that level of sincere care. She lives by the principle of her mentor, Randy Reidinger, who told her to “Never cheat a horse.” I believe this to be her Golden Rule in all facets of life. Charmayne James, World Champion Barrel Racer, posted this on a Facebook page about Reidinger. “Randy is currently an Examiner for the International Association of Equine Dentists, a Master Certified Equine Dentist and has floated the teeth of more than 40,000 horses. Some of his long-time customers include celebrities such as 11-time World Champion Barrel Racer Charmayne James, Phil Rapp, Bob Avila, Fred Tabor and John Ward Racing Stables as well as several top teams in the professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He was one of the original members of the committee that helped to establish and design the certification programs at the Academy of Equine Dentistry. In 2002, Randy established the Texas Institute of Equine Dentistry in Weatherford, where he taught both.”
It appears that Melissa is living her dream today. She is happily married and the mother of two precious children she clearly adores, ages three and five. She has horses and her little ones are just beginning to ride early as she did and they love horses also. Life has come around full circle for Melissa because she followed her dream.
Dr. Ole remembers Melissa as a young girl when she would bring in her dogs for care and how she interviewed with him to be a veterinarian long ago. He has nothing but praise for her and had this to say about her expertise, “Melissa has been formally trained and registered by the state and is a valuable asset to our community.” He further explained how difficult and intense the education of equine dentistry is and that Melissa sat the National Board and passed, and this is reflective of a formal education and worthy of the title she bears as an equine dentist.
He tells me that he and Melissa have a new concept here at the White Mountain Animal Hospital. They offer a higher level of expertise and intensity for equine dentistry providing not only regular dentistry, which includes floating of the teeth (a procedure where the teeth are filed to make the surfaces relatively flat), extractions and other corrective work, but also they can treat oral cancer and administer radiation treatments. Dr. Ole says he and Melissa together are providing these complete services. White Mountain Animal Hospital has a special facility to perform these services and can house horses who need special care for a while. White Mountain Animal Hospital is the only indoor facility on the mountain for accommodating long term care for large animals on site. Melissa’s patients get a real bonus working with this team. As a free service to Melissa’s equine patients, Dr. Ole gives an equal medical and dental evaluation at the time of your appointment. He says their business relationship is symbiotic and he accepts no part of her fees. He evaluates for free with her clients only.
Dr. Ole has a large practice; he says his work has taken him as far north as Colorado and as far south as Argentina. His unique practice involves the treatment of all animals including domestic as well as exotic, zoo and wildlife animals. He serves as a Consulting Veterinarian for Departments of the Arizona Game and Fish, the White Mount Apache Game and Fish, the New Mexico Game and Fish and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Dr. Alcumbrac is the lead veterinarian for the Mexican Wolf Project, the Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope Project and multiple game and non-game species studies. He’s also the veterinarian for Bearizona in Williams, Arizona and is currently working as the veterinarian for our Heber Wild Horse Herd. He received an Emmy Award for a TV series on the Outdoor channel called “Wild Ops.” These are only “some” of his accomplishments in his career of 20 years. Dr. Ole has had many other practices on the mountain over the years and many veterinarians on the mountain today have apprenticed under Dr. Ole. He often works many 7-day weeks and says, “When you like what you are doing, it is not a job”.
It looks like Melissa began with excellence in her training and education and continues to work and perform with the best. She can be contacted by calling her at (940) 372-3191 or call the White Mountain Animal Hospital at (928) 368-8425.