The Betsy & Hagyard Challenge Series

    September 28, 2012

    by Ashley Craig

    Betsy Fishback, late wife of Dr. Dave Fishback, has left a legacy that includes not only memories of her love and passion for horses, but also the final Grand Prix event in the Hagyard Challenge Series and Gala named in her honor, The Betsy. Betsy Fishback battled breast cancer for many years. While I never had the privilege of meeting Betsy while she was alive, I did have the honor of attending the event and fundraiser for the Markey Cancer Foundation commemorating her grand life. In addition, the Markey Cancer Foundation has provided treatment and support for a number of Hagyard employees and other family members. In its first three years, The Betsy raised over $320,000 for the Markey Cancer Foundation. This year an additional $100,000 was raised. This is another, wonderful example of Hagyard making a positive impact in the community.

    For the evening, I was not only excited to attend The Betsy Gala but it also gave me an opportunity to dress up and socialize with friends, clients and co-workers. For someone who is in khakis and polos day in and day out, getting to dress up is always a nice change of pace! Upon arrival at the Alltech Indoor Arena, my favorite dispatch person, Kitty, greeted me and quickly pointed me in the right direction just as she always does. She was volunteering for the Markey Cancer Foundation that evening and helping collect donations for the cause. She has become my second mother during my time at Hagyard especially since she is in charge of keeping me in the right place at the right time!

    After locating my fellow intern mates, co-workers, clients and friends, I started socializing, enjoying the appetizers and viewing the silent auction items. The silent auction held a variety of items ranging from a painting, a hand carved wooden ball, all the way to a large plasma TV with accessories. Dinner soon followed and the live auction was held just as attendees were finishing their meal and beginning to enjoy the dessert spread.

    Once the meal was completed, the Grand Prix began. Most fundraisers cannot boast that they have a steep competition filled with great horse and rider combinations, large prize money, and are also a qualifier for the World Cup, but The Betsy can! The challenging Grand Prix course was met by 36 riders including four recent US Olympic Team riders. After all of the rounds were completed, the jump-off took place. Finally, recent Olympic rider and Lexington resident, Reed Kessler took the top prize with her horse, Mika. Both of her rides on dual entries were spectacular to watch and all of the riders in the jump off were amazing to view! The speed, agility and talent that these teams possess is phenomenal to witness.

    All in all, the evening was very enjoyable, filled with great food, amazing entertainment, and wonderful company all in the name of a great cause! After having lost several friends to cancer, it was nice to see a veterinary hospital organize an event that gives such large donations to help fund cancer research and treatment.

    Keeneland – From a Different Perspective

    September 14, 2012
    Filed under: Uncategorized — @ 1:33 pm

    Sales Pavillion

    Growing up in Central Kentucky, I would have to be unobservant to not notice when the Keeneland Sales were going on. As a kid, I always looked forward to driving down Versailles Road and seeing the large plane stationed at the end of the runway during the sales. As a teenager and adult, I often planned my driving and dining around Keeneland as roadways and restaurants become congested with people in for the sales. Now as an intern, I have a new perspective on Keeneland.

    The weeks leading up to Keeneland were filled with taking pre-sales radiographing surveys. For people not familiar with this, it is 36 radiographic views (x-rays) that Keeneland requires for each horse entered in the sale. These radiographs help buyers determine if there are any problems in the joints of these horses that could hinder their racing career. So the almost 4000 yearlings entered in the sales need 36 shots of their joints which equals a lot of radiographing! Every day for almost two weeks, I was out on the road with a different veterinarian taking radiographs. It was a long two weeks but I learned a lot about the appropriate angles to take certain shots at, how to maximize the diagnostic function of radiographs and what to look for in each view. Again, I can’t stress how good of teachers I had during those times. They were great about taking the time out of their busy schedules to teach me all they could.

    The opening evening of the Keeneland sales was the first time I was on the grounds as a veterinarian. Dr. Sam Schalnus, one of the greatest teachers at Hagyards, was scheduled to be at the sales with me during the first day. Before the hustle and bustle of the first sales session started, Dr. Schalnus showed me around the veterinary world of the Keeneland Sales. I got to see the repository where all of the radiographs that were taken are stored. I got a special code that allowed me access to a veterinary only room; no worries it isn’t that exciting- it is just where a couple of computers are located. Then we went to meet Kathy from Hagyard who helps field all the phone calls and requests from people who need a veterinarian at the sale. After the brief tour, I hung out in the back walking ring with my fellow interns who are pros at the Thoroughbred sales and they helped educate me as well. As a Saddlebred rider, what we like in conformation is vastly different than what Thoroughbred trainers want due to the difference in function of the horses, so my intern mates helped me see what racehorse people like.

    Not long after the start of the sale, Kathy called me to let me know she had some people at different barns that needed a veterinarian. As soon as the first call finished, I was sent to the next barn. This continued the whole night as Dr. Schalnus and myself went around fulfilling the requests of each client. Not all calls were complicated. Some just required bloodwork and paperwork so the horse could start the export process to another country. Others were a little more involved such as one yearling who needed some mineral oil and water to relieve a slight impaction.

    As the night progressed, it was great to see exactly how the behind the scenes worked. The Keeneland staff pays attention to every detail to make sure that the sales run easily, the staff at the barns are on full alert to their horses, the owners and potential buyers, and the veterinary staff are always close at hand to handle most requests. The first session ended on a very high note as the high seller of the day was the next to last horse and he sold for $1.65 million. Dr. Schalnus and I just happen to have hit a slow moment and got to watch the colt sell while standing in the barn he was located. This beautiful colt waltzed passed me on the way to his stall after commanding the attention of all in the sale ring. Hopefully in a couple years I will get the pleasure of watching him waltz to the winner’s circle!

    My first sales session was a memorable one and I look forward to many more days of calls, taking and reading radiographs, and learning from the great veterinarians at Hagyard at the Keeneland sales and meets.

    Opportunities in Equine Practice

    September 7, 2012
    Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — @ 5:09 pm


    Two years ago I was a third year veterinary student attending Opportunities in Equine Practice Seminar (OEPS) held in Lexington, Kentucky. Being a Kentucky girl, this was a great excuse to come home for the weekend, show my classmates the beauty of Central Kentucky and learn more about a future in the equine veterinary world. Now as an Intern, I am getting to experience OEPS from a different perspective. The two years since I attended OEPS as a student has flown by, things in my life have definitely changed, and I am ecstatic to be living my dream- the constant smile on my face is testament to how much I love what I do.

    As a student at OEPS, I enjoyed listening to the practitioners speak about life as an equine vet; so many of my questions about internships were answered during that amazing weekend and my decision to pursue a career in equine veterinary medicine was confirmed yet again. As a veterinarian at OEPS, I have enjoyed seeing friends from across the country, meeting students interested in equine medicine, but most of all, I have gotten to share my personal experience and passion for equine medicine to future equine veterinarians. In preparation for OEPS, my internmates and I got together and made a humorous video for the students. It just goes to show you that an equine internship isn’t all work and no play; we make time to enjoy ourselves and find ways to laugh even during the busiest of times.

    Life as a Hagyard Intern – click for video.

    It doesn’t seem possible that only two months have past since I started as a field care intern at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Every day is filled with opportunities to learn and grow as a veterinarian. Being an intern at a prestigious clinic like Hagyard, is not only an honor but also a great opportunity. On July 2nd, I walked through the front doors of Hagyard as a newcomer and full of anxiety about living up to the standards of such an amazing clinic. This anxiousness was quickly laid to rest, as every single veterinarian and staff member was full of kind words and open arms. As a young veterinarian, there is a steep learning curve in your first year; as a Hagyard Intern, the steep learning curve is filled with seasoned vets constantly encouraging you and helping you along this journey. Everyone wants to see you succeed and is willing to go out of their way to help you achieve great success. My intern class is also extremely lucky as all of the field care interns knew each other before we started our internship and consider each other great friends; at the end of the day it is helpful to have close friends who know exactly what you are going through and can be there to grill out and laugh with you through it all.

    Riding along with different field veterinarians and meeting all of their clients dominated the first month of my internship. While July in Central Kentucky is considered a slow time of year, the caseload is still far greater than most academic institutes. I would be lying if I said I didn’t go home at night mentally and physically tired. Every day I learned an incredible amount of information and gave myself plenty of homework assignments to review before the next day. For those who think learning stops when you graduate from veterinary school, you are wrong. Veterinary school is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to knowledge acquisition. Studying, post-graduation, is more in-depth than just studying for a test; it is studying for life. Every vet at Hagyard is great about teaching, talking through cases, and helping weave the knowledge I acquired from veterinary school in with the practical field knowledge. One day that stands out in my mind is a day I spent with Dr. Stuart Brown, President of Hagyard and fellow Tuskegee Alumni. In the process of discussing a weanling we had seen, we got into the discussion about pneumonia which lead to an in depth learning session where we tied together the pathophysiology, anatomy, clinical presentation, diagnostics, and treatment. To summarize- that was information gleaned from 1st year, 2nd year, 3rd year and 4th year of veterinary school, some of which I never thought could be clinically applicable- but I was wrong! I am lucky to say that Hagyard has some of the best equine vets in the world but they are also the best teachers.

    One of the great things about being a field care intern at Hagyard is the flexibility. This internship allows you to work with a vast amount of veterinarians and learn different approaches or styles to equine medicine. This allows you to learn from the best minds in the practice, and pick and choose how you want to practice veterinary medicine. The large number of practitioners in the clinic is a definite plus; it is like being on “Who Wants to be A Millionaire” and having 38 lifelines. There is always someone a phone call away whether it is in the middle of the night and you need to discuss a case, or you are studying and need some clarification.

    Another great aspect of the field care internship at Hagyards is the opportunity to spend time in the surgery and medicine departments. The time spent in the other departments not only provides you a chance to view how things are done in those areas, but also a different perspective and additional learning opportunities. My second month as an intern had me at the McGee Medicine Center learning from practitioners who not only are on the forefront of equine medicine but also in many cases, wrote the book about it! The second night I was on call gave me plenty of chances to learn. Starting at 5pm, only 15 minutes after being home, I received a phone call that a patient was colicing and I was needed back at the clinic. As soon as that patient was stable, another emergency was on its way in- this time it was a neurologic patient who could not stand. After working with the second emergency for several hours, the third emergency came through the door just after midnight. By 3 am, the third emergency was semi-stable and I headed home for a couple hours sleep. At 4 am, the technician monitoring emergency number 3 notified me that it was uncomfortable again; so back to the clinic I went! At 5 am, horse number 3 was sent to surgery, which I got to watch for a short period of time before I headed back to medicine to take care of my other patients and come up with the treatment plans for the day. This steady flow of emergencies was just the experience that I needed to help build my confidence and teach me how to handle these situations. The entire night I was supported by an amazing primary doctor who was there every step of the way, allowing me to take a large role in the cases while also knowing my limitations, and wonderful technicians who are blessed with years of experience and expert training also helped me. This night was just one of many where the learning opportunities were abundant. My time at the McGee Medicine center was well spent and took my medical knowledge to the next level.

    As I enter the third month of my internship, I am excited to be back in the field. It is sales time in Central Kentucky and that means radiographs, radiographs, and more radiographs before the sale. This past week, I took over 700 radiographs (or x-rays) in one day! Shortly, I will be working at the Keeneland sale and watching the next generation of Thoroughbred racehorses sell. As an owner and exhibitor of Saddlebred show horses, this is a different side of the horse business than I am use to, but I am excited to be a part of it!

    Stay tuned for more stories from myself and other interns at Hagyard as we document our internship and give you a glimpse into our lives as new equine veterinarians! I have left a great deal of stories out of my summary of my first two months, but don’t worry- they will make it into the blog at some point. I hope you enjoy my experiences as much as I have and continue to do. The life of an intern is full of hard work, lots of learning, and as much fun as you can imagine!

    Life as an Intern – Dr. Ashley Craig

    September 4, 2012
    Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — @ 1:45 pm

    Dr. Ashley Craig

    Welcome to the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute Intern Blog. Whether you are a student, owner, or seasoned veterinarian, we hope that you find this blog an entertaining and insightful look into the life of an equine intern. As the first of many interns posting, I feel it is my duty to give you a good southern welcome! So who am I? My name is Ashley E. Craig. I am a Central Kentucky native who just recently graduated from veterinary school at Tuskegee University, in Alabama. I joined the Hagyard’s Team this summer as a Field Care Intern.

    So how did I get here and how did I decide to become an Equine Veterinarian? Like most little girls, I grew up loving animals. I told my parents when I was just 4 years old that I wanted to become a veterinarian. Throughout my childhood my parents were kind enough to allow me to have a multitude of dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, fish and even a horse! My mother never had to worry about finding a babysitter for me; all she had to do was drop me off at the barn. As I grew older, I enjoyed not only working with the horses but also working with the veterinarians that came to the barn. To say the least, I was, and still am, inquisitive and full of questions! The equine vets who answered a young girl’s questions are the ones who helped me realize that the veterinary world was my calling in life. I truly found my passion after working at a large American Saddlebred breeding farm during my undergraduate college years. It was there that I got my first experience working with stallions, broodmares and foals. This passion for the breeding side of veterinary medicine is what drives me to this day. There is nothing quite like it! After graduating from Georgetown College with a Biology degree, I took two years off of school before going to veterinary school. During this time I worked at another Saddlebred breeding farm as the stallion manager (starting to see a trend here?). Once in veterinary school at Tuskegee, I was heavily involved in our student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA). I am honored to say I was the 2011 National VBMA President and also the student representative on AAEP’s Student Relations Committee.

    After years of my life being spent in the classroom, I am excited to start my life in the field. The life of an intern is filled with tons of learning, fun at every corner, and a year of personal and professional growth. I hope throughout this year you follow along and read as myself and the other interns share their day-to-day life and uncloak some of the mystery behind the life of an Intern.