Horses have always merited a special fondness in his heart.
Of course, riding Duke was better than walking to school in the depression 1930 years.
But, it was much more than transportation mode that horses sparked for the Kansas City youth.
“I liked all livestock, but especially riding horses and working with them. They’re probably the biggest reason I decided to be a veterinarian,” said Dr. Bill Stuart, now retired from his Kansas City veterinary medicine practice.
With his wife Jan, Dr. Stuart reminisced about the lifelong fulfilling career in large part caring for health of horses.
For that service to horses and horse people, Dr. Stuart was recently inducted into the Better Horses Network Hall of Fame during ceremonies at Ottawa.
“I specialized in large animal treatment, but always liked horses best. I was fortunate to care for some of the best horses in the country, and even more privileged to know and assist several very top horsemen,” Stuart appreciated.
The country was fighting World War II, when Stuart graduated from high school in 1945. He joined the Marine Corps and was in boot camp in San Diego when “the bomb dropped.”
Relieved, not being forced into fighting war, Stuart returned to Kansas State University, graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1952, and started his practice
A clinic was established from a house and barn Stuart acquired at 135th and Stateline, and worked out of that until 1981 when he built a clinic across the street from their home at 133rd and Switzer.
“I worked for Bob Sutherland of Sutherland Lumber, who owned Bar S Ranch, one of the top Quarter Horse breeding operations in the country. That was a big boost to me getting started,” Dr. Stuart appreciated.
“John Ballweg was trainer and manager of the Bar S Quarter Horses, and I was the veterinarian. |Nobody knew more about horses than John Ballweg, but he’d never let on like it,” Stuart said.
The Saddle & Sirloin Club is a horse boarding facility at Kansas City, and Dr. Stuart served as veterinarian there throughout his career, too.
“I was veterinarian at the Heartland Therapeutic Riding Center for 10 years, and was on the board of directors for 25 years after that,” Dr. Stuart related.
Married in 1979, the couple combined has seven grown children, Bill four, and Jan three. “We lived at our home on Switzer for seven years before moving out to the farm in 2005,” Jan said.
Dr. Stuart always had horses for his own use and especially enjoyment. “He liked to play polo. Bill and his sons played polo in the area for a number of years,” Jan noted.
“With 126 acres on the farm, Bill had a cow-calf operation. There were six dogs and five cats, along with the horses,” Jan smiled.
“I tell you John Ballweg was most capable with horses. There haven’t been many like him. I continued to learn about horses from John for 65 years,” Stuart again acknowledged.
“Those horses at Saddle & Sirloin were a different quality than at the Bar S Ranch, and care for them was somewhat different, too. The owners left their horses’ health care up to me and generally did what I recommended,” Stuart said.
Roy Williams, head of the Teamsters Union, was also a horse owner seeking veterinary services regularly from Dr. Stuart.
“Bill came home one day dragging a horse on plywood,” Jan remembered. “He had to put a sling on the horse and put it over a branch on the tree to keep the horse standing. The horse had encephalitis, and had to be kept up.
“After they all got the horse standing, Bill said to get his glove and take him to the hospital, because he had pinched part of his finger off. Getting the horse to the clinic had taken about an hour-and-a-half, but fortunately they were able to reattach that part of his finger,” Jan said.
“Doc taught me a lot about horses, lameness, hoof and foot care. He was a great mentor in my life. I’ve been blessed to know Dr. Stuart,” said retired farrier John Duckworth of Shawnee.
“Terry Holmes of Paola worked for Stuart at his clinic for about three years, before becoming a farrier in 1975, with horses being treated by Dr. Stuart also among his clientele.
“There’s nobody who knows more about horses than Doc Stuart. He’d tell me what the horse needed to correct lameness, improve action, and I’d try to do that,” Holmes said.
In official retirement, Dr. Stuart has remained close to the horse industry and especially their owners.
“I always have liked horses and was concerned for their wellbeing. Still the best part has been the people, my friends who owned and worked with horses,” Doc Stuart insisted.