Long-serving British Olympic vet Peter Scott-Dunn dies

Peter Scott-Dunn
Peter Scott-Dunn

The British Equestrian Federation has announced that former Olympic eventing veterinarian Peter Scott-Dunn has died.

Scott-Dunn, who was 90, died in the early hours of Friday, April 4, at the Royal Berkshire hospital.

A much-loved personality in the eventing community, Scott-Dunn was the team veterinary surgeon to the British Eventing Senior team for numerous Olympic Games. His first involvement with the sport of eventing at Olympic level came as a newly qualified veterinary surgeon when he officiated at the London Olympics in 1948 as a duty vet for the eventing competition which was held at Tweseldown in Aldershot. He was then also asked to help with the British team in 1952 before going on to be officially appointed as the British Team vet from 1956-1988.

During the early years of his appointment, Scott-Dunn was not only the vet to the eventing team but also to all of the British equestrian teams, travelling thousands of miles to continuously check on both existing and potential team horses.

He was born into a veterinary family, with his father being a renowned veterinary surgeon who never missed a day’s work due to holiday or stress. He started life with profound veterinary connections, his godfather being Sir Frederick Hobday FRCVS.

In 1969 he became veterinary surgeon to the Royal Household, a position he held until 2005. In 1982 he was awarded the title of Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) for his services to the Royal Mews, and in 2002 he was promoted, by order of Her Majesty The Queen, to Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).

Colleagues at the Scott Dunn equine Clinic said Scott-Dunn was “very much a man before his time. A consummate politician, he guided riders and numerous chefs d’équipe through the maze of Olympic politics and was regarded as a wise old owl.”

They pointed out that he was the first Chairman of the British Horse Society Welfare Committee, and later in life, was the first Chairman of the newly formed Association of Racecourse Veterinary Surgeons. He was a long-term member of the Welfare Committee of the Hurlingham Polo Association, a position still occupied by the practice today, and remains the longest serving Team Veterinary Surgeon to the British Olympic Equestrian Team, being in place for 31 years and attending seven Olympic Games.

“Peter was one of the last remaining links between the veterinary past and the present. In his early days veterinary art and craft, something at which he excelled, was the prime requisite for success. As veterinary science developed, and not one to be left behind, Peter embraced the advances in technology, whether it was a mobile phone, the original being the size of a breeze block, or ultrasound scanning and digital radiography. He even delighted in his iPad and was in tune with social media!

“The passing of Peter hails the passing of an era and a talented, dedicated and remarkably enthusiastic veterinary surgeon who had a passion for both veterinary practice and his patients, whom he regarded as his ‘friends’. He will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues.”

Scott-Dunn was a friend to many in the sport of eventing including British Olympian, Richard Meade OBE: “I think the success the British team had back then in the halcyon days were largely due to Peter’s intuitive skill of diagnosing problems in our team horses.

“Despite the distance between our homes, up until very recently I have always called upon him if we had horses with problems that other vets could not diagnose. Not only was he an extremely hard working and skilful man, but he became a great friend to many riders. He would always have a great story to tell and remained incredibly sharp of mind and spirit until he passed away.”

A friend, Susie Pragnell, described Scott-Dunn as “hospitable, charming, passionate and a great lover of horses”.

“Despite not being able to get out to competitions very often recently, he always loved to hear how people were doing in the sport and loved to be kept up to date. He and his wife Anne were also huge racing fans who only last week were celebrating a win at Kempton Park by their home-bred Ishieamber, trained by George Baker.”

Scott-Dunn leaves behind him his wife, Anne Scott-Dunn, who is a former British Team Equine Physiotherapist who worked tirelessly alongside her husband in setting up Scott Dunn’s Equine Clinic in Wokingham.

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