Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists


Our Doctors & Staff

Full-time Clinicians

Elaine Claffey, Diplomate - ACVS - LADr. Elaine Claffey

  • Board Certified Surgery Specialist

Dr. Elaine Claffey is the newest member of the Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialist (CRES) team. Certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (Large Animal), the graduate of the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. 2014) will be involved in all aspects of care at the clinic, from elective and emergency surgery to sports and regenerative medicine and lameness work. Prior to CRES she spent a year interning at the Vermont Large Animal Clinic, completed a residency in large animal surgery and continued on as a clinical instructor at Cornell's Equine Hospital. Dr. Claffey is an accomplished equestrian who competed professionally in eventing prior to and throughout veterinary school, and currently has one riding horse, a five-year-old Thoroughbred that will be joining her on Long Island.

John Pigott, DVM, MS, DACVS

  • Board Certified Surgery Specialist
  • Radiation Safety Officer
  • Biosecurity Officer
  • Dr. John Pigott

Dr. John Pigott is a specialist veterinary surgeon and 2009 graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.  He completed his equine surgery residency training at The Ohio State University and has performed research in equine orthopedics, regenerative medicine and upper airway disorders.  Before moving to CRES, Dr. Pigott was employed by a private practice referral hospital in Wisconsin where he worked in both elective and emergency orthopedic and soft tissue surgery, advanced imaging and lameness. Dr. Pigott joined the team at CRES in 2015 and has notable expertise in orthopedic surgery, upper airway surgery, complicated lameness, advanced imaging and regenerative medicine.  He has an extensive history as a competitor in the hunter/jumper field, and utilizes this unique knowledge daily as he approaches cases across disciplines.  As a recognized specialist, Dr. Pigott is an invited speaker at both national and international conferences on the topics of orthopedics, regenerative medicine, and lameness.

Rotating Clinicians with Cornell Ithaca

Norm G. Ducharme, DMV, MSc, DACVS

  • Board Certified Surgery Specialist
  • Chief Medical OfficerDr. Norm G. Ducharme

Dr. Norm Ducharme, James Law Professor of Large Animal Surgery at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, is Chief Medical Officer  at Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists. A board-certified large animal surgeon at Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA) and CRES, he has dedicated much of his clinical and research effort to understanding the equine upper airway. His research has focused on methods of identifying and quantifying dynamic upper airway obstructions, defining the anatomical structures and their function, and developing surgical and other methods for treating equine upper airway diseases. He graduated from veterinary college at the University of Montreal in 1979 and completed his internship and residency at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1982. He received his Master of Science degree from the University of Guelph and became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) in 1985. Ducharme was medical director at CUHA from 1990 to 2014. Ducharme served as president and chair of the board of the ACVS from 2005 to 2007 and was inducted in the University of Kentucky Hall of Fame for Equine research in 2016.


Michelle L. Delco, DVM, PhD, DACVS

  • Board Certified Surgery SpecialistDr. Michelle L. Delco

Dr. Michelle Delco received her DVM from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. After completing a residency in Equine Surgery at University of California, Davis to become board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, Dr. Delco served as an Assistant Professor of Equine Surgery at Kansas State University. In 2008, she joined a private equine referral practice near Seattle, WA, where her primary focus was minimally invasive surgery and the diagnosis and treatment of complicated sports injuries in equine athletes. In 2012, Dr. Delco was awarded a research fellowship supported by the National Institutes of Health and returned to Cornell University to pursue her PhD degree in the Graduate Field of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, with minor fields of study in Biomedical Engineering and Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology. In 2016 she was awarded a 5-year National Institutes of Health Clinical Scientist Career Development Award (K08). After completing her PhD, Dr. Delco was appointed Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, and also serves as a Large Animal Staff Surgeon for the Cornell University Hospital for Animals in Ithaca, NY, and an Equine Surgeon at Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists.


Edward Earley DVM, AVDC/Eq

  • Board Certified Dentistry/Dental Surgery Specialist

Dr. Edward EarleyDr. Edward Earley of Large Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, provides dental services at Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists. As a board certified Equine Dentist and Oral Surgeon, he treats a wide range of clinical conditions utilizing orthodontic, periodontal, endodontic, restorative, oral medicine and oral surgery procedures. He promotes minimal, conservative and focal odontoplasty (floating) correlated to a specific oral diagnosis which helps to promote longevity of the equine dentition. Dr. Earley has a developing interest in research for the increasingly prevalent disease of EOTRH (Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis). As a graduate from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University in 1985, he moved to North Central Pennsylvania and established a veterinary practice in Williamsport. In 2004, he started advanced training in Equine Dentistry through the Alternate Pathway Program of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry (AVD). In 2008, he completed the program and became an AVD Equine Fellow. In 2010, Dr. Earley started a Non-Species Specific Alternate Pathway Residency Program at Cornell University. In 2014, he became a founding Equine Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC/Eq). Over the years he has participated in several committees through the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), AVD and the AVDC/Eq to promote and develop Equine Dentistry within the Veterinary Profession.


Lisa A. Fortier, DVM, PhD

  • Board Certified Surgery Specialist

Dr. Lisa A. Fortier

Dr. Lisa Fortier received her doctor of veterinary medicine (D.V.M.) from Colorado State University in 1991, and then completed an equine surgery internship at Illinois Equine Hospital. She then completed a surgical residency and Ph.D. at Cornell University. She is the Director of Equine Programs and the James Law Professor of Surgery at Cornell.

Dr. Fortier holds clinics and performs surgery in the Equine Hospital at Cornell in Ithaca, New York, and as a Staff Surgeon at the Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists hospital in Elmont, New York. Her primary clinical interests are in equine orthopedic surgery, tendonitis and arthritis with expertise in regenerative medicine including platelet rich plasms, stem cells and Interleukin Receptor Antagonist Protein Therapy. She has authored over 200 scientific papers and book chapters on topics related to regenerative medicine, arthritis and tendonitis.


Alan J. Nixon, BVSc, MS, DACVS

  • Board Certified Surgery SpecialistDr. Alan J. Nixon

Dr. Alan Nixon has been practicing veterinary orthopedic surgery since 1979 with a focus on cartilage, bone, tendon and ligament diseases. He received his veterinary degree from the University of Sydney in 1978 and completed a surgical residency and research degree at Colorado State University in 1983. After five years in the Department of Surgical Sciences at the University of Florida, he came to Cornell University in 1988. He is certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Meet our Staff

Jill Nordberg, BS LVT: Practice Manager, Licensed Veterinary Technician

Jill NordbergJill grew up in the thumb of Michigan where she owned and showed Arabians as well as worked on the family cash crop and hog farm. She attended Michigan State University and received her Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Technology. Upon graduation she moved to Lexington, Kentucky and worked at a high volume equine practice where she furthered her interest in anesthesia, surgery and MRI. After getting married she moved to Long Island, NY and started working for Dr. James Hunt at Belmont Park when the opportunity to work with Cornell presented itself after their acquisition of Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists. She soon joined Cornell's team and assisted with the opening and operating of the facility. She now is the Practice Manager of the facility and also performs technical duties such as anesthesia and patient care. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her growing family and riding her horse. 

Kaley Rave: Customer Service Representative

Kaley RaveKaley is our lead customer service representative here at CRES. She is a friendly face to everyone who comes into or calls the hospital. Kaley came to CRES in February 2018. She has always loved horses, and rode when she was younger. Both of Kaley’s daughters have inherited her love of horses, her oldest even has a horse of her own, a rescued thoroughbred named Falcon. When she’s not working, Kaley loves to be with her family and spend time outside gardening.

Samantha Nelson: Customer Service Representative 

SamanthaSamantha has been working professionally in the horse industry since 2004.She started her career as a beginner riding instructor and groom, which eventually led her to working for Olympic Eventer Michael Paige at the Kent School. Before coming to CRES, Samantha worked as a barn manager and head World Cup groom for James Arkins in Sydney, Australia where she attended horse shows up and down the east coast of Australia as well as Paris, France. Samantha has since decided to take a new approach to the horse industry and is now our Customer Service Representative as well as our Social Media Coordinator.

Lindsay Conologue: Licensed Veterinary Technician

Lindsay ConologueLindsay grew up riding and showing hunter/jumpers on Long Island.  She pursued horses as a career after graduating in 2009 with her bachelors in both English Equestrian Studies and Animal Science from The University of Findlay.  After graduation, Lindsay moved around filling different working student and training positions at hunter/jumper, breeding and dressage barns in Alabama and California.  In 2011, Lindsay returned to Long Island to obtain her veterinary technicians’ license.   She is currently the Lead LVT and has become proficient in many areas of the hospital, most notably surgery and MRI.  Lindsay is very passionate about her job and very excited to have been a part of CRES from the beginning. In her free time Lindsay enjoys spending time with her dogs and staying active through rock climbing and hiking.

Joann Rinaldini: Licensed Veterinary Technician

Joann RinaldiniJoann grew up in LI riding and working with horses throughout her teenage years. After managing several show horse and TB breeding farms in LI and upstate NY she then obtained her Veterinary Technician license in 2001. Her interest in mares and foals continued at the University of Pennsylvania working as a technician in the ICU and NICU. She recently moved back to LI joining CRES this summer. In her free time she enjoys skiing, biking and gardening.

Katelyn Trzcinski: Licensed Veterinary Technician

Katelyn TrzincinskiKate first developed her love for horses while taking lessons and competing as a young rider. Before coming to CRES in 2017, she spent 7 years taking care of and training horses in Suffolk County. During this time, she found herself drawn to sport horse medicine and rehabilitation. This lead her to pursue a career in equine veterinary medicine. While working in Suffolk County, Kate was able to adopt and retire an OTTB turned lesson horse, Baylee. She has also repurposed a second OTTB, Copee, who Kate competes with in local Hunter/Jumper shows. Kate spends her time away from work riding her horses, taking family motorcycle trips, and spending time with her boyfriend, Dan. 

Martyn Blackmore: Licensed Veterinary Technician

MartynMartyn Grew up around horses and had his first pony ride at 5 months old and never looked back. He competed for many years in the Westchester, Dutchess, and Long Island show circuits with his childhood barn, Pelham Bit Stables in the Bronx. When he was finished competing, Martyn worked as a trail guide and a riding instructor. His deep love of animals fueled his pursuit for a career in caring for them. After receiving his veterinary technicians license Martyn worked in small animal care until he found his way to Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists Hospital in 2019, which he described as his dream job.

Veronica Caravella: Veterinary Assistant

Veronica CaravellaVeronica was born and raised in New Jersey where she grew up riding and showing hunters. She spent most of her summers going with her family to Saratoga Racetrack, where her love for thoroughbred racehorses first began. During her undergraduate career at Finlay Veronica participated in a study abroad internship at Randwick Equine Center in Sydney, Australia which sparked her interest in equine veterinary medicine. After college she worked for 7 years as an equine therapist at multiple racetracks around the country before settling down and calling Belmont Racetrack home. The opening of Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialist across the street from Belmont reignited her interest in pursuing a career in equine veterinary medicine, so Veronica enrolled in a program to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician. In August 2019 While working towards her veterinary technician’s license, she became a member of the CRES team.

Jerome Jackson: Animal Attendant

Jerome JacksonJack started with CRES in early 2015 as the lead animal attendant. He is a Kentucky native and has worked with horses for decades and is very interested in maintaining the standard of daily care that they require. When not at work Jack enjoys following the racing industry and time with his family.

Joel Benitez: Animal Attendant

Joel grew up in Puerto Rico and joined the horse industry in 2015 when he moved to the USA after finishing high school. He worked for many Joelyears grooming and caring for horses at Belmont Racetrack before hearing about us from Jack, our lead animal attendant. Joel has been an animal attendant here at CRES since April 2019.