Dr “Teg”, pioneering equine and space monkey vet dies at 95

Dr Melbourne B. Teigland
Dr Melbourne B. Teigland

American Association of Equine Practitioners past president Dr Melbourne B. Teigland has died peacefully in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the age of 95.

Teigland, who died at the Southminster retirement home on April 3, was a founder of South Florida-based racetrack veterinary practice Teigland, Franklin & Brokken DVMs (now TFB Equine).

Born to Norwegian parents in Randall, Iowa, Teigland attended Iowa State University as a ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) student during World War II and graduated with his veterinary degree in 1945. Teigland embarked on his equine veterinary career in Miami, Florida. Before the introduction of antibiotics and most technology, and equipped with little more than sulfa drugs and medical folklore, Teigland built a successful, predominately pleasure horse solo practice by using his medical curiosity to figure things out.

Following a military commitment from 1950-1953 in which he oversaw the health of the first American primates to be launched successfully into space, Teigland returned to practice where he contributed to improvements in equine orthopedic surgery and educated others in recognizing, treating and prognosing many equine infectious diseases that emerged in South Florida. Teigland’s openness and willingness to impart his knowledge was unusual among the veterinary community at the time.

He eventually hired associates, two of whom — Dr Benjamin Franklin, Jr. and Dr Tom Brokken — became partners in the 1970s when the practice evolved into an equal mix of pleasure horse and Thoroughbred racehorse care. The practice transitioned exclusively to Thoroughbred care in the 1990s.

TFB Equine founders, from left Dr Melbourne Teigland, Dr Thomas Brokken, and Dr, Benjamin Franklin Jr.
TFB Equine founders, from left, Dr Melbourne Teigland, Dr Thomas Brokken, and Dr Benjamin Franklin Jr. © TFB Equine

Although highly accomplished and respected on his own, Teigland thrived on group practice. He relished conversations with his fellow veterinarians — even more than chocolate cake — and his partners and associates became better horse doctors because of Teigland’s case analysis, insights and mentorship. Teigland put colleagues and owners at ease with his knack for storytelling and weaving a joke into a tense situation to lighten the atmosphere.

Teigland was among the earliest members of the AAEP and served as the association’s seventh president in 1961. Sixty years later, the practice will be represented by its fourth AAEP president when TFB Equine President and Managing Shareholder Dr Scott Hay serves in the position, joining Dr Franklin in 2000 and Dr Brokken in 2008.

In recognition of his contributions to the association, profession and welfare of the horse, the AAEP bestowed on Teigland Distinguished Life Member status in 1984 and the Distinguished Educator Award in 2001. He also received the 1985 Stange Award for meritorious service in veterinary medicine from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. “Teg” Teigland (October 1, 1923 – April 3, 2019) was preceded in death by his wife of 63 years, Verna “Bunny” Brannon Teigland, in 2010. He is survived by his sons, Dr Chris Teigland of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Phil Teigland of Leesburg, Virginia, and daughter Annette Reilly of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A private family service was held at the Arlington National Cemetery, where Teg and Bunny were interred together.


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