My First Rollercoaster Ride

    April 5, 2013

    Rollercoaster Ride

    Rollercoaster Ride


    Dr. Ashley Craig

    Imagine waiting in line to ride a rollercoaster. You sit there wondering if the waiting will end, then it is your turn. You climb into the seat and ride towards the first hill. As the chain slowly pulls you up the hill, your heart starts to pound; you are excited but yet apprehensive as the anticipation of the first hill looms. And then suddenly, you are there zooming down that first hill and you realize any apprehension or anxiety you had is gone and you enjoy the ride. As quickly as the ride started, it stops but you look forward to the next rollercoaster ride.

    So why is an equine intern describing a rollercoaster ride? Because it is the perfect metaphor for my first solo emergency call that I had back in September, and yes I know this is a little late, but better late than never! Hopefully no matter how far along I go in this field, I hope to always remember the feeling of my first solo emergency. For the first month of the internship I was busy riding along and attending emergencies with other Field Care veterinarians. It was a great chance for me to get my feet wet and learn more about how Hagyard handles cases. My second month was in Medicine, where I was on-call, but more as a secondary doctor since the board-certified Medicine experts attend every emergency and case. During my third month in the internship; I am put in an on-call rotation where other doctors are also on-call but I am sent out to emergencies on my own. Up until my first true emergency, my time on-call had included some fun cases and routine problems, but no “true” emergencies. I was just waiting in line for the rollercoaster.

    My morning had been unexpectedly slow as a couple of calls were cancelled and I had some time before joining another Field Care veterinarian to do a castration. I decided to hang out until it was time to head out to my next call in Dispatch, which put me in the right place at the right time. The phone call came in that a farm had a horse that needed help immediately. As Dispatch tried to reach the primary vet for the farm, I talked through how I would handle the situation with another Field vet. When the primary vet for the farm couldn’t be reached, it was my chance to ride the emergency rollercoaster – and I jumped at it! With a vote of confidence from Dispatch and a mentor, I was on my way armed with directions, experience from my internship and four years of veterinary school knowledge. The drive to the farm was like the climb up the first hill of the rollercoaster; my adrenaline was high but my anticipation was higher. I ran through what information the farm had shared, all the possible scenarios, how I would handle the situation, what I would do, and how to differentiate the potential problems that I would encounter. Turning into the farm, my heart was pounding as I made the mental checklist of what I needed to pull out of the back of my truck when I got to the horse. Reaching the horse, I got straight to work assessing the situation, examining the horse, and determining the course of action. I was riding down that first hill of the rollercoaster and just focusing on the task at hand. As I completed the treatment that the horse needed and informed the farm of the next steps that needed to be taken, I finally took my first deep breath. I had handled my first solo emergency call without having a panic attack. My rollercoaster had come to a momentary stop.

    Driving back to the clinic, I called the primary vet for the farm to inform her of the situation and what all went on during the call. As I walked into Dispatch at the clinic, I was greeted with high fives from all of the dispatchers and one of my mentors. My rollercoaster ride was over for the time being, but I couldn’t wait till the next time. The rest of the day I was overwhelmed with the compliments from other Field vets who had heard about my first solo emergency call. While the rush from the adrenaline high was gone a couple hours later, I will never forget my first emergency call, nor will I ever forget how much support and encouragement my colleagues give to me each and every day. I am truly lucky to be riding the rollercoasters at the Hagyard theme park! =)

    Since my first emergency, I have gotten the chance to ride lots of other rollercoasters. Each and every single emergency brings about a very similar feeling to my first time. There is a sense of anticipation as I get the call, the mental exercise of running through all of the possibilities as I drive to the horse, sometimes the discussing of ideas with mentors, the excitement of treatment and the greater excitement of a positive outcome. With each and every call, each and every case, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have great patients, amazing clients and supportive mentors and staff at Hagyard.

    A Day in the Life

    January 16, 2013

    Dr. Ashley Craig

    As a field care intern at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, no day is ever the same. A day recently was definitely not like any other! No matter how well you schedule your day, horses have a mind of their own and generally re-work your schedule.

    So at 8am, I was supposed to meet my mentor, Dr. Arnaldo Monge, and work with him the whole morning, but as I said previously, horses don’t often look at our schedules. When my phone rang at 7, I hustled through my morning routine to rush out the door to see a mare that had just aborted (gave birth early). After inspecting the fetus, placenta and then lavaging the mare’s uterus- I hurried off to meet up with Dr. Monge only 30 minutes behind my previously planned schedule. With Dr. Monge, I got to palpate late stage pregnant mares to make sure they were still pregnant. Dr. Monge is a leader in his field and his demeanor is inspiring to a young veterinarian. As I finished up with my mentor, I headed back to the clinic to assist Dr. Ernie Martinez, the up and coming dental guru. But first, I got to partake in a nice doctors appreciation lunch that was organized by the wonderful ladies in Dispatch and Billing. These ladies work day in and day out to help keep the practice running smoothly and yet they still find time to organize a fabulous potluck lunch to show the doctors how much they appreciate us. The food was great and getting all of the doctors in the same place at once provided much entertainment. As a young doctor, it also allowed me to quiz the more seasoned doctors about my upcoming charter flight for horses that I would be riding on and to pick their brain for tips and suggestions.

    With a full stomach, I headed back to assist Dr. Martinez with floating three sets of teeth. For those who are unfamiliar with the term “floating”, it refers to the process of filing down the sharp edges of the horse’s teeth. Horse teeth continually grow and can grow unevenly. This uneven growth can cause sharp points to form and pain to the horse. As the knowledge of dental issues in horses has grown, so has a veterinarian’s ability to help correct these dental issues. Dr. Martinez has made it his goal to be on the forefront of dental knowledge and it shows! His dental tool kit is exciting for any equine veterinarian to explore. Watching and learning from Dr. Martinez was a treat!

    As I finished up with Dr. Martinez, I rushed off to a more personal appointment- a meeting with Central Kentucky Riding for the Hope. This amazing program helps children and adults with mental and physical disabilities by allowing them to work around and on horses. The horses are special animals that require patience, understanding and a calmness that would shock most people. One of my own horses was a candidate for the program and that day was the day he was going to be evaluated. After putting my gelding through his paces and having a discussion with one of the riding instructors from the program, we determined my horse didn’t quite fit the need of the program. CKRH is looking for horses and with their strict requirements, it is difficult to find the right horse for the program. (Side note- if you know of any horse that might possess the temperament and personality for this amazing program- get in touch with CKRH! )
    Even though my horse wasn’t right for CKRH, my day didn’t slow. I then met up with Dr. Heather Woodruff to work up some lame horses. Seeing multiple horses and traveling across three counties kept me busy learning and driving! Evaluating lame horses takes a special eye and a talent both of which Dr. Woodruff possesses. Learning from a lameness expert was wonderful but not the end to my day! As I hustled from the last appointment, I headed to my parent’s house to grab a duffle bag for my upcoming charter flight to England. With a bag in hand, I headed back to the clinic to attend the Hagyard Lecture Series led by Dr. Jaye McCracken. This in-depth discussion of problems with foals was the finale to a day of learning from some of the experts at Hagyard and a fairly typical unscheduled day!