Just days before the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games, accredited media were finally invited to take a tour of the veterinary facilities. (I take full credit for the opportunity; I think I finally wore down the officials with my eager pestering.)

As I suspected, other journalists were interested in seeing the clinic, as well. Olympic veterinary-services manager Dr. Jenny Hall was a gracious and accommodating host, and I thank her for the fascinating peek behind the scenes. (Read my interview with Dr. Hall here.)

So come along and I'll give you a photo tour of what, for a few weeks every four years, is the world's most important equine veterinary clinic. (And it's still very much in operation as I write this: The same facilities will be used for the horses competing at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, which get under way on August 29.) Hover your cursor over each photo and a full caption will be displayed.

FEI veterinary director Graeme Cooke outside the London Olympic veterinary clinic. Humans enter at left; horses enter at right. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.

 

Dr. Jenny Hall, 2012 Olympic veterinary-services manager. Photo by Jennifer Bryant. 

The four-stall interior of the veterinary clinic. The facility also included a padded recovery stall. Photo by Jennifer Bryant. 

Laboratory room at the veterinary clinic, used for testing horses' blood and urine samples. Photo by Jennifer Bryant. 

Dr. Jenny Hall in the FEI-passport storage area. Horses competing in International Equestrian Federation (FEI) -sanctioned events need passports, just as human travelers do. Photo by Jennifer Bryant. 

Close-up view of an Olympic horse's passport. Each line reflects the FEI competition this horse has attended. Note the special London Olympics stamp on the last line and the signature of Dr. Kent Allen, FEI foreign veterinary delegate for the 2012 Olympic Games. Photo by Jennifer Bryant. 

We got a chance to examine the world's most sophisticated equine ambulance. Through the open side doors you can see the green sling that can be used for a recumbent horse. The ambulance interior is air-conditioned, contains closed-circuit TV cameras, and is roomy enough that veterinary personnel and grooms can ride inside with the horse. Photo by Jennifer Bryant. 

Engineer Bill Fellowes, who designed the ambulance, demonstrates the hand-operated turntable that rotates the stall so a horse can walk off as well as on (no backing out required). Fellowes and LOCOG (the London Olympics organizing commitee) co-financed and co-own this vehicle, which cost 94,000 British pounds and was built especially for these Games. Only two other such ambulances exist, in Ireland and Dubai, used in the racing industry. Photo by Jennifer Bryant. 

I hope you've enjoyed this pictorial tour. And if you're suffering from Olympics withdrawal the way I am, not to worry: Two weeks from today is the start of the Paralympics! I'll be bringing you news and interesting horse-health-related information about the Paralympic horses, so stay tuned.