Dr. Rocky M. Mason, DVM, Founding Partner and Owner
Dr. Rocky Mason grew up on a small cattle and sheep farm in the far eastern panhandle of West Virginia in Summit Point, about 60 miles from Washington DC. During his childhood, Dr. Mason worked closely with his grandfather, both on the farm and at his professional employment with White Veterinary Supply. “My grandfather was a bastion of hard work, honesty and integrity,” Dr. Mason says. “He taught him the value of hard work and aggressive effort. ‘If a job was worth doing, it was worth doing it right’” was a mantra he lived by.
Becoming an equine veterinarian was a shared dream between Dr. Mason and his grandfather. Dr. Mason received a BS in Animal and Veterinary Sciences (Pre-vet) in 2002 from West Virginia University before attending the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, where he received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in 2006.
I have always been amazed at the bond between humans and animals, and cherished the thought of having an important role in bolstering that relationship,” he explains.
Dr. Mason is a founding partner of Lexington Equine Medical Group, where he has a special interest in perinatology, advanced reproduction (the management of breeding stallions and mares), internal medicine, preventative and herd health, and performance horse medicine and lameness. Dr. Mason provides care for everything from racehorses and polo ponies to eventers, gaited mountain horses – and everything in between.
When asked about his favorite thing about working in the Bluegrass, Dr. Mason said that the plethora of horses here afford him the opportunity to call on and use his knowledge, experience and training in a variety of ways. “Because of the vast case load, I get to treat the uncommon cases commonly!” he explains.
Dr. Mason grew up riding cow horses and competed in youth team penning. He has several family members who trained Thoroughbred racehorses, so he had exposure to the industry early on. He currently owns some Thoroughbred breeding stock (mare and foals) and he’s in the perpetual dream market for a polo horse, a foxhunter and a cow pony.
Outside of work, Dr. Mason enjoys being outdoors; he competes in ultra endurance events (running, biking, kayaking, Ride & Ties) and enjoys traveling, fly fishing, upland bird hunting and backpacking. He also has a classic 1970 Ford Bronco and enjoys motorsports.
Dr. Mason is married with two daughters, Addison(12) and Ainsley (11), and one four-legged daughter, Molly (6), a German Shorthaired Pointer who can be found sleeping in the back seat of his truck most days.
Dr. Mason sits on the Kentucky Horse Council Board of Directors and is the chair of the Equine Health and Welfare Committee. He’s co-authored a paper published in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry and has presented at the American Association of Equine Practitioners convention. He is also part of the Breeders’ Cup Treating Veterinary Team.
Dr. Chris R. Smith, Founding Partner and Owner
Originally from Corsicana, Texas, Dr. Chris Smith attended Texas A&M for both undergrad and vet school.
Dr. Smith enjoys “being able to see successes from conception to birth to the racetrack and hopefully to the winner’s circle, but most of all being able to make a difference in the lives’ of animals,” he explains. “The relationships created with the owners and managers along the way – it’s as if they are family.” Dr. Smith has been involved directly and indirectly with several of the winners of Triple Crown races.
He’s grateful for the professional horseman in the industry and the quality of stock he gets to see. “The centralized location for all farms that Lexington offers requires less time in the truck and more time to be a vet,” he explains. “The roads we travel and farms we are on daily are beautiful and not taken for granted.”
Dr. Smith team roped a bit through high school, and he’s been involved in the Thoroughbred business with mares, foals and yearlings. He currently doesn’t own any horses, but does have one pony named Rooster his daughters hop on from time to time.
Dr. Smith is married with two daughters; he enjoys spending time watching his kids in their various sports activities, along with hunting, fishing, hiking and the outdoors.
Dr. Patrick J. Ford, Founding Partner and Owner
Dr. Patrick Ford arrived in the Bluegrass via Western Pennsylvania, where he completed his undergraduate studies at Washington & Jefferson College and then attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Ford is a founding partner of LEMG who is particularly passionate about equine reproductive medicine, though he loves all aspects of practice in Central Kentucky. His favorite thing about working in the Commonwealth is the natural beauty of the land and the horses the land produces.
Dr. Ford is married with four children, and he owns and breeds Thoroughbreds of his own. When not working with horses, he is an avid upland hunter and enjoys fly fishing and other outdoor activities.
Dr. Ford sits on the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners board of directors.
Dr. Michael A. Betz, Founding Partner and Owner
“Betz” is a familiar name in the Bluegrass, having been a powerhouse on the Thoroughbred breeding scene for many years. Dr. Michael Betz was raised on the farm and enjoyed working there while growing up. It comes as no surprise that Dr. Betz especially enjoys reproductive medicine and sales work.
When not at work, Dr. Betz enjoys spending time with his family: wife Liza, daughter Elodie and son Conway, as well as dogs AJ and Harvey.
Dr. Natalie Heitz, Associate Veterinarian and Performance Horse Specialist
A Kentucky native, Dr. Natalie Heitz grew up going to the races at Churchill Downs with her grandmother. This early exposure to Thoroughbred racing piqued Dr. Heitz’s passion for horses; she attended the University of Kentucky for her undergraduate studies before becoming a Darley Flying Start trainee. Once she completed that program, Dr. Heitz was admitted to Auburn University, where she obtained her doctorate in veterinary medicine.
She returned to Kentucky to practice and holds licenses in Kentucky, Florida and New York. Dr. Heitz joined the LEMG team in August 2022.
Dr. Heitz enjoys working with equine athletes in all phases of their life, from the time they’re born, throughout their racing careers and into retirement. “Being a part of each milestone in their career is very rewarding to me,” she explains. Her areas of interest include lameness, racetrack and herd health.
Outside of work, Dr. Heitz enjoys playing golf, flag football and other sports, spending time with her family, and watching the UK athletics (go Cats!). She also sits on the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association (KVMA) Government Relations Committee and volunteers with the Boys and Girls Haven as the head of their Equine Programs Advisory Council.
She has three fur babies: a Golden Retriever named Rollo, and two cats, Gepetto and Lightning McQueen.
Dr. Kandace B. DeBolt, Associate Veterinarian and Import & Export Coordinator
Dr. Kandace Brooke DeBolt is an Alabama native who attended Auburn University for both undergrad and vet school. After graduation, Dr. DeBolt worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for five years, honing her skills and knowledge base on the necessary forms and tests needed for horses to leave and enter the country.
Dr. DeBolt joined the LEMG team in 2019 as an import/export specialist. With so many horses in the Commonwealth traveling overseas to race, compete and breed, Dr. DeBolt’s knowledge is key to ensuring each horse arrives with all its paperwork, testing and other protocols in place.
Dr. DeBolt’s love of animals was fostered by her parents; her father is a small-animal veterinarian whom she grew up working with on their 40-acre farm. “I developed a deep love for taking care of animals [on the farm],” she says. “I loved the animal-care aspect, but I also loved helping owners care for their pets. Watching my father as a valuable member of our community was inspiring, too.”
Dr. Debolt rode on her family farm and moved into hunter/jumper competition as a teenager. In college she began eventing, competing mainly on Thoroughbreds. “I currently have a mustang that is showing a lot of promise as an eventer, if I can ever find time to ride him!” she says. “My kids enjoy our pony sporadically when time away from other sports permits.” Dr. DeBolt also owns two miniature donkeys.
When not working or riding, Dr. DeBolt enjoys hiking, running, reading, kayaking and canoeing, time with her family and her animals, and anything outdoors. Her family includes four boys, ages 11, 8, 6 and 4, and a husband “who is my partner in running this circus” she says.
One of Dr. DeBolt’s favorite things about Lexington is its beauty, as well as the ability to have land, yet still be close to the city – a far cry from San Francisco, where she lived before. Also important to her is the sense of camaraderie, both equine and otherwise: “We have found a community here full of great friends” she comments.
Dr. Madonna M Morrison, Associate Veterinarian
A Canadian transplant, Dr. Madonna Morrison attended the University of Prince Edward Island and the Atlantic Veterinary College before working in Canada, Texas, New Zealand and Oregon before landing in Kentucky.
Dr. Morrison didn’t grow up with horses or in a horse family, but she fell deeply in love with horses the fist time she saw them over a decade ago. “I’ve never looked back” she explains of her decision to pursue equine vet med. She’s passionate about the horses and the veterinarian lifestyle suits her. “They [the horses] never allow me to be bored!” she says. “I enjoy medicine cases, specifically neonatology cases. I enjoy lacerations. I enjoy anything that makes you think a little extra.”
Dr. Morrison owns a Standardbred broodmare named KitKat, who she also raced. She co-owns the mare’s 2019 and 2020 foals, and keeps them with a friend in Canada who is training them. “I am anxiously awaiting the newest addition out of her this spring,” she says. When she’s not working, Dr. Morrison enjoys hiking or relaxing with a good movie and some ice cream.
Dr. Page Mauk, Associate Veterinarian
Originally from Franklin, TN, Dr. Page Mauk was the only horse-crazy person in her family. Not one to be deterred, she evented before grooming and training polo ponies. Deeply passionate about horses, she knew from a young age that veterinary medicine was the perfect job for her: “I’ve always worked with horses and wanted a career that would keep me in the barn,” she explains.
Dr. Mauk completed both her undergraduate and graduate degree at the University of Tennessee. Her favorite cases are those that are a challenge, but that are resolvable. “I love when a nasty laceration comes together well; I love the dystocia that I can get fixed; I love the dummy foals that turn around; I love the abscess that pops and gives instant relief,” she explains.
Dr. Mauk loves living in the Bluegrass. “I have so much respect for the athletes that we create here and I have enjoyed working with them at different stages throughout both their careers and mine,” she says. “With that said, I think my favorite part about working in Central Kentucky is the hope. There is so much potential in each new foal, with each sale, with each new stallion. It’s so exciting to follow these horses and hope for their success.”
When she’s not working, Dr. Mauk enjoys riding her OTTB and spending time outdoors with her family: husband Fletcher, daughter Aurie and son Miller, along with Airedale Terrier Waylon.
Dr. Erika Growette, Associate Veterinarian
Growing up on a small hobby farm with a father who loved animals, it’s easy to understand why Dr. Erika Growette made the foray into equine vet med. “My favorite place to be was out in the barn with our menagerie of pets,” Dr. Growette says. Becoming a veterinarian seemed like the best way to combine a profession with a passion.”
Dr. Growette grew up in Cannon Falls, MN, where she enjoyed trail riding on Paint Horses. She completed her undergrad work at the University of North Dakota, where she majored in Biology with a Pre-Health emphasis. From there she went to Kansas State for vet school, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude before embarking on an internship at Peterson Smith Equine Hospital and Complete Care.
Dr. Growette really enjoys reproduction and foal medicine; she has recently become interested in sales work, as well. She’s particularly fond of working in the Bluegrass for a plethora of reasons, among them “the landscape, the prestige of the industry as a whole and the unique opportunities available to me simply by practicing veterinary medicine in this area,” she explains. “I love driving through the rolling countryside and seeing beautiful and historic horse farms everywhere, and getting to participate in events [either as a veterinarian or a spectator] like the horse sales and race meets. I love that so much of the way of life in the Bluegrass surrounds the horse. The bourbon isn't too shabby either!”
When not working or riding her own horse, Banana, Dr. Growette enjoys reading, knitting, listening to true crime podcasts and spending time with her animals, dogs Apollo and Aurora and cats Linus and Lucy.
Sarah Cockran, Sales Coordinator
Though Sarah Cockran is the first generation of equine enthusiast in her family, she jumped into the industry with both feet over two decades ago, making a move from Maryland to Kentucky.
Though she currently doesn’t own a horse, Sarah gets her horse fix by spending time on all the beautiful farms in the Bluegrass and getting to know those who love and care for their equine residents.
Sarah has two children, an 11-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son; she enjoys watching them play sports, as well as hiking and other outdoor sports.
Lisa Jones, Accounts Receivable & Billing Manager
Accounts Receivable and Billing Manager Lisa Jones has been with LEMG since its inception on December 1, 2018; she had worked with three of the partners for more than 15 years. Lisa majored in accounting and business, and currently holds certificates in Collection Law, Accounts Receivable Management, Communication, & Business Ethics.
“I’ve always worked in some type of customer service position that is accounting- or billing-related,” Lisa says. “I have many long-term relationships with our clients and have come to know some of the personally. I enjoy talking to and working with all of our clients. My goal is to always provide the best customer service possible. I enjoy working with all of our doctors, watching them grow and being a part of their success.
Lisa has lived in Kentucky her entire life. She and her husband live on a farm with their two dogs, Max and Benson. When she’s not working, Lisa enjoys hanging out with my dogs and husband, gardening, singing in the choir and church activities. “I do enjoy running and have participated in numerous 5Ks, but haven’t be able to for several years. My goal is to start training again next year,” she says.
Kate Wurst, Billing Support Specialist
Kate Wurst left Suwanee, GA, for the University of Kentucky, where she received a BS in Equine Science and Management before attending Midway University for a Master of Business Administration with a focus in Equine Studies. She is now the Billing Support Specialist for Lexington Equine Medical Group.
Kate has ridden since she was 5 years old; her mom began riding 10 years ago and now the duo share a Quarter Horse named Holloway. When she’s not working or riding, Kate enjoys working out and hanging out with her dogs, Bowman and Baxter.