As one of the busiest veterinarians in the country, Mike Tomlinson is rarely in one place for long. When he’s not officiating at one of the 25 or so Fédération Equestre Internationale events he attends each year, he’s likely on a conference call or shuttling his children to soccer games.
Tomlinson earned his veterinary degree from the University of California at Davis and has been practicing since 1984. He also earned his masters degree in business in 1999. His specialty disciplines include Arabians, show jumping, dressage and endurance. He’s currently on the U.S. Equestrian Federation Board of Directors and serves on the Executive Committee, FEI Affiliates Working Group, Drugs And Medications Committee, Veterinary Committee, Endurance High Performance Committee, Endurance Technical Committee, Safety Committee and Safety Review Panel. Within the affiliate organizations, such as the American Endurance Ride Conference, U.S. Hunter Jumper Association and U.S. Dressage Federation, Tomlinson is involved in the high performance and international divisions.
Tomlinson got his first horse when he was in seventh grade and was immediately hooked. He competed in the Arabian divisions as a junior and currently has “plenty of horses” but little time to ride. His wife Debbie competes in dressage at the Prix St. Georges level, and his two sons, Matthew, 12, and Scott, 10, concentrate on other sports. “They both like horses, but riding is mommy’s and daddy’s sport,” he said.
Name: C. Mike Tomlinson
Home Base: Thousand Oaks, Calif.
What was the name and breed of your first horse?
Snookie was a purebred 3-year-old Arabian. That was all I could afford. She wasn’t broke—we broke each other! I rode around on her sometimes 12 hours a day. We went to school together quite often. I was in FFA [Future Farmers of America], so she could come to school. It’s hard to believe in Southern California there was agriculture back then.
How many countries have you visited?
Boy, really it would be virtually every country in Western Europe. It’s probably easier to think of
the places I’ve not visited, such as Africa and, unfortunately, I haven’t made it to Australia or New Zealand. I haven’t been to Russia, but I’ve been throughout the Middle East, Japan, Korea and Malaysia. I haven’t been to Pakistan or India. I’ve been in every country down through Central and South America except Chile and Argentina.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
What person, alive or dead, would you most like to meet, and why?
It would probably be Thomas Jefferson or Albert Einstein. I love to create and invent and think of new things, and I think those guys were pretty good at it.
What is your least favorite chore around the house?
Fixing plumbing. All of the houses I’ve lived in have been old, having fixed all of them up myself, and of all of the things I’ve done, I least like fixing the pipes.
How many miles are on your primary vehicle?
The new truck has 135. The old one about 350,000.
Jack Russells, yes or no?
I don’t have any. We have Rottweiler crosses, but for insurance reasons they’re called Collies.
What is your favorite trait in a horse?
Trust. Sometimes when they tell me no I accept it. And sometimes when I say yes they do the same.
Name one random fact people wouldn’t know about you.
I’m a part owner of a container recycling environmental company in South Carolina.
Describe yourself in three words.
Innovative, passionate and energetic.
Besides the USEF Rule Book, what was the last book you’ve read?
The FEI Rulebook! Other than rulebooks, I read medical journals.
What’s the most frequent item on your credit card statement?
How many text messages do you send/receive each day?
What is your drink of choice?
What do you never leave home without?
My cell phone.
What is the best feeling in the world?
The end of a successful event when all of the horses are healthy, nobody got hurt and everything was fair. One where it all worked.
What one item in your wardrobe best personifies you?
Mickey Mouse ties.
What is your greatest regret?
Not spending as much time with my family and friends as I would like to.
In retrospect, what has been the best decision you’ve made in your life?
The decision to make the most out of every day because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
What three things are most likely to be found in your refrigerator at all times?
Milk, leftovers and something molding in the bottom drawer. Some people call it the crisper, I call it the molder.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the world today?
A lack of understanding. If people understood each other better they wouldn’t fight as much. If people understood what they were doing to the environment they would change things. If people knew how they were impacting others they would probably change their ways.
What do you find to be the most ridiculous part of the horse world?
Where do you think you’ll be 10 years from now?
I don’t know where my life will take me in 10 months, let alone 10 years. If you told me 10 years ago I’d be here, I’d have said you were crazy. The kids will be out of school [in 10 years], so I could be anywhere. I could be in the same place just enjoying it more. I don’t have a goal to be anywhere. My goal is to help as many people and as many organizations and horses as possible. So wherever that road takes me, I’ll be there.