Renowned equine veterinarian learned to revere horses through foxhunting
The scarlet coat: It’s an icon of mounted foxhunting, signaling responsibility and leadership, and it is the one piece of clothing that best defines Dr. Marvin Beeman.
Beeman, 85, is an eminent equine veterinarian and has worn a scarlet coat for 75 years with the Arapahoe Hunt, based east of Denver. He first donned scarlet as a 10-year-old whipper-in, working alongside his huntsman father with a pack of English foxhounds; he was the youngest person ever recognized in the position by the Masters of Foxhounds of America. More recently, Beeman has worn scarlet as huntsman and Master of Foxhounds, top leadership roles with the club whose horseback-riding members pursue coyotes over more than 20,000 acres of grassland at the former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range.
Beyond his deep ties to the hunt, the scarlet coat signifies Beeman’s life with horses.
“Horses are the greatest mammalian athlete God ever created. They’re such a wonderful machine to study,” he said. “I’m just absolutely fascinated by horses. That’s what keeps me really active.”
Beeman is a fourth-generation Coloradan who grew up – on horseback – as the son of a legendary huntsman on the Diamond K Ranch, longtime home of the Arapahoe Hunt; the land later became Highlands Ranch. There, as a schoolboy, Beeman decided to become a horse doctor to care for the creatures whose bodies he knew better than his own.
“I became fascinated by their structure and how they did the jobs they were asked to do,” he said.
He attended Colorado State University as a first-generation student, earning a bachelor’s degree in physical science in 1955 and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1957.
Beeman helped found Littleton Equine Medical Center, one of the nation’s best horse hospitals, where he continues to practice. In 1984, he famously cured elite show jumper Calypso of lameness, leading to a U.S. gold medal in jumping team competition at the Los Angeles Olympics. He has held multiple leadership roles in equine veterinary medicine, has been inducted into several halls of fame, and in 2005 was lauded with the National Western Stock Show Citizen of the West Award.
Yet his love of horses sets him apart. “Marvin Beeman is known worldwide as the consummate horseman’s horseman,” according to Horse Connection magazine.
That was clear in July, when Beeman joined Roundup Riders of the Rockies on its weeklong mountain trail ride. It was his 53rd year on the annual “Big Ride” – a record for the Western fraternity – and Beeman did it astride a mare named Foxy. After a health scare, he had religiously trained on a stationary bike to prepare.
To encourage others in his profession, Beeman and his wife, Eunice, recently established a scholarship for CSU veterinary students pursuing equine medicine.
“I’ve been so grateful to CSU,” he said, “and I want equine veterinary medicine to continue to make horse health and welfare a priority.”