Pure, unabashed joy. That’s Dr. G. Marvin Beeman. His smile — familiar within the world of veterinary medicine for nearly seven decades — is infectious, deeply genuine and reflective of the childlike enthusiasm bubbling beneath his surface. He’s a coveted figure who has helped shape modern- day equine medicine while teaching and inspiring by example literally hundreds of veterinarians who have come through the Centennial State’s Littleton Equine Medical Center as interns and associates and others simply lucky enough to have benefited from his tutelage. He’s widely and profoundly beloved, respected and revered by peers, colleagues and clients for his contributions to the betterment of the horse.
With his 90s in front of him, retirement remains elusive. Dr. Beeman holds a deep love for the horse that simply won’t allow him to quit. Moreover, he cares greatly for the people within the walls and stalls of Littleton Equine Medical Center, a practice he built alongside his two close friends, colleagues and fellow industry pillars, Drs. Charles D. Vail and Terry D. Swanson after the three adopted the practice that then-retiring veterinarian, Dr. Harry Johnson, had founded in 1955. “The three of us stuck our necks out to get started in this practice, and it’s worked,” says Dr. Beeman. “But it would not have if it wasn’t the three of us together.” The men are more than partners; they’re a closely connected trio who set out with a common philosophy, each bringing his unique talent to establish one of the most respected equine referral practices in the country. Dr. Beeman is the great motivator of the group. A brilliant veterinarian, whose specialties include a variety of equine lameness and musculoskeletal issues, he melds his lifelong passion for horses with a kindness, approachability and encouraging nature that welcomes young veterinarians to learn from him. He benefits as well. Dr. Beeman credits the associates and intern veterinarians at Littleton Equine with continually restoking the fire in his belly for veterinary work. “Dr. Swanson and I are both at the age where we probably ought to be doing something else,” he says chuckling. “But we’re so fascinated by the things that the young people bring to us.” Even now, Drs. Swanson and Beeman remain sideby- side, just as they have been for most of the latter’s 65 years in practice. This brotherhood is built on deep mutual respect and a kindred way of approaching medicine, patient care and life. “Dr. Swanson is one of the best lameness diagnosticians I have ever seen in my career. He’s got the intrigue of being able to see the absolute subtle things, and he’s got tremendous ability. Being able to share that has been a real pleasure for me.” The third partner also holds a special place. Dr. Vail has moved into retirement but maintains his signature and wildly sharp wit. With it comes an incredible intellect and grasp of science, literature, music and art, rivaled only by his vast understanding of veterinary medicine. “He’s a scholar. He helps Dr. Swanson and myself by keeping us educated on what we should know outside of veterinary medicine. We’ve had a really good time together, and he’s taught us that there’s other things than lame horses in the world,” Dr. Beeman says with a laugh.
With his 90s in front of him, retirement remains elusive. Dr. Beeman holds a deep love for the horse that simply won’t allow him to quit. Moreover, he cares greatly for the people within the walls and stalls of Littleton Equine Medical Center, a practice he built alongside his two close friends, colleagues and fellow industry pillars, Drs. Charles D. Vail and Terry D. Swanson.
After nearly seven decades in practice, Dr. G. Marvin Beeman has helped shape modern-day equine medicine while teaching hundreds of veterinarians who have come through the Colorado’s Littleton Equine Medical Center.
Today’s Littleton Equine Medical Center has evolved from a three-room large animal clinic to a premier full-service referral hospital offering veterinary talent that sits amongst the very best the industry has to offer. When the trio took over the practice in the 1960s, it was before the advent of inhalation anesthesia. There were few surgical suites for horses at that time. One noted surgical facility was Dr. Robert Copelan’s in Paris, Kentucky. Dr Beeman visited Dr. Copelan’s hospital several times where he gathered ideas that contributed to the development of Littleton Equine’s own surgical facility. The evolution that the three have witnessed, experienced and had a hand in advancing is astounding. “It’s just extremely gratifying to me to see where we came from and how we got here,” says Dr. Beeman. “To see the evolution of the younger people doing what they’re doing here, and to know that I had a little bit to do with it has been extremely gratifying to me, and I’m appreciative because a lot of people work like the dickens to make it all happen.”
“It’s just extremely gratifying to me to see where we came from and how we got here.”
— G. Marvin Beeman, DVM, Littleton Equine Medical Center
Dr. G. Marvin Beeman was the professional huntsman for Colorado’s Arapahoe Hunt- Club (English Fox Hounds) from 1987 until 2019. Dr. Beeman was still riding the hunt until the age of 88, when his longtime mount “Missy” was nearing the end of her days.
Dr. Beeman is more than one of the great veterinarians, he’s a horseman at his core. The unadulterated love of horses helps keep him vibrant and inspired. “I think they’re the most athletic, biological machine God ever made,” says Dr. Beeman with obvious wonderment. “When you say that somebody’s going to say, ‘Well, they can’t run as fast as a cheetah or jump as high as an antelope.’ My answer is: ‘Nobody rides a cheetah or an antelope.’ Had there been a better machine before mechanization than the horse, they would have used it,” he says.
Raised in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on the then-rural outskirts of Denver, Dr. Beeman grew up beside his father, George, a legendary huntsman, and horseman, with an unparalleled ability to choose and breed horses with exceptional conformation, temperament and intellect. Educated at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, just 65 miles up the road from home, Dr. Beeman spent frequent weekends and summers with his father, helping with the operation, which included mostly thoroughbred field hunters and polo ponies. Their time together seemed to always be played at high speed — chukkers on the polo field or riding the fox hunt together. George Beeman was the professional huntsman for Colorado’s Arapahoe Hunt Club (English Fox Hounds) for 53 years until his retirement in 1987 when his son succeeded him, a position he held until 2019. Dr. Beeman was still riding the hunt until the age of 88, when his longtime mount “Missy” was nearing the end of her days. The Thoroughbred/Percheron mare came from a long line of draft horse cross breeds. These crossbreds were trained by Dr. Beeman and his father before him. Missy Long Legs was something special though. With an immense level of endurance, speed and agility for her size, the thoroughbred mare carried Dr. Beeman with a fiery spirit for over 15 years. “Missy was a little ornery,” he says with a laugh. “But when I started hunting hounds off her, she proved to be an outstanding huntsman’s horse. She could keep up and often outrun a lot of the thoroughbred horses that people were riding alongside her.” Together, Dr. Beeman and Missy left a permanent mark on the vast Colorado plains and in the hearts of all who came across the dynamic pair. Even today, Dr. Beeman spends a bit of each morning checking on his current mare, a half-sister to Missy who recently delivered a foal. The pair are stalled at Littleton Equine and eager to see the stall door slide open as Dr. Beeman pokes his head in to assess their progress.
“I never cease to be amazed when I walk up to a horse and wonder what’s on the other side of the page we have yet to read.”
— G. Marvin Beeman, DVM, Littleton Equine Medical Center
To Dr. Marvin Beeman, the horse is ingrained in every fiber of his soul — from childhood days spent on horseback, to the evolution in equine veterinary medicine to passing along that expansive knowledge to the next generation of veterinarians. Dr. Marvin Beeman is a man who has made the horse better, he’s improved the profession and he’s had a hand in shaping the careers of generations of veterinarians who have gone on to do incredible things. He’s a legend but a humble one. “I never cease to be amazed when I walk up to a horse and wonder what’s on the other side of the page we have yet to read,” Dr. Beeman says earnestly. It’s a profound sentiment after so many years spent face-to-face with a horse; he’s still just as enthralled as he was in the beginning.
These days when you pull through the gates and approach the columned exterior of Littleton Equine Medical Center, you’re met with a bustling hub of innovation, talented professionals and unwavering devotion to horse and rider. There’s a jovial air here. The veterinarians and their vital support staff are dedicated and engaged. And they mean it when they call themselves a “family.” The team works as a unit, and it’s easy to feel the pride they exude. That environment didn’t just come to be, it was thoughtfully built by Drs. Beeman, Swanson and Vail and passed down to Littleton Equine’s next generation of leaders, Drs. Kelly Tisher and Scott Toppin.
As Dr. Beeman reflects on a lifetime of incomparable memories spent atop and beside horses, his trademark smile says it all: contentment. He’s made an impact. He knows it, although he’ll seldom say the words out loud. He has not only watched as equine veterinary medicine evolved from a relatively primitive practice to the industry of discovery and advancement that it is today, he played a direct role in that evolution. He didn’t do it for the glory, however. To Dr. Marvin Beeman, his family, his colleagues and the horses themselves are what he holds most dear. He sums it all up simply, “It’s just been an absolute pleasure.”