For the Love of the Mare

    March 21, 2013

    Mares and foals running in a field

    Mares and foals running in a field

    Dr. Ashley Craig

    Its breeding season in Central Kentucky; that magical time of year when new foals are hitting the ground and the farms are busy with the hustle of breeding horses. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement that hangs in the air. As I start my first breeding season as a veterinarian, I am anticipating many adorable foals with soft noses perfect for kissing, hours in a breeding shed, a strong palpating arm, some sleepless nights, adrenaline rushes and time spent doing what I love most- practicing veterinary medicine.

    When I was in undergrad at Georgetown College, I went to work for a breeding farm. As I interviewed for the job, the broodmare manager asked why I wanted to come work there. I gave the standard answer that any younger girl would- “I love the foals”. While this statement still rings true, it doesn’t fully begin to explain what all I love about breeding farms. Foals are wonderful. Watching a healthy, energetic foal bounce around a stall or field can always put a smile on your face. But for me, my admiration, respect and affection is given to the unsung heroes of the breeding industry, the mares. These mares put up with so much and yet, they are often the kindest and most patient beings. Every year, they have a vet palpate, ultrasound, culture, re-ultrasound, and check their reproductive organs on a fairly regular basis. They are sent to the breeding sheds, where in an unfamiliar environment, they meet the future father of their next offspring. They handle the hustle and bustle of the breeding shed with ease before being loaded back onto a trailer and head to their main farm, upon which the cycle of vet checks continues until the mare is declared pregnant. If the mare is “easy” to get in foal, she will produce a foal every year. Being pregnant so frequently is what the mares are made for and what nature intended. If she were out in a herd with a stallion, a similar cycle would happen just minus the human intervention. Through all of this, the mare finds joy in her foal, and patience with the humans (and the foal!).

    Recently, during my second rotation through the McGee Medicine Center, I ran across a maiden mare, or a mare that has not had a foal previously, which demonstrated all of the qualities that I love in mares. She had just recently given birth to her first foal but the foal wasn’t doing well. The foal came into the neonatal ICU not able to stand on it’s own and having seizures. The mare followed patiently behind the techs as they carried her foal into the stall. Since some maiden mares can be a little anxious, a technician stood with the mare as the doctors worked to help her foal. The mare stood quietly occasionally nickering softly to her foal. She watched the entire time as the foal was being given the medical attention it needed. As soon as the foal was stabilized, it was propped into sternal position on a tempur-pedic mattress (yes, a memory foam bed) in the stall and covered with blankets to help to keep it warm. The tech slowly loosened her grip on the mare and let her investigate what was going on. The mare walked over gently to the foal and nickered to her new baby. She then proceeded to pull the blanket back so she could touch her baby and make sure he was all right. After investigating the foal, she then went to the IV fluid lines and nosed at them a little. Once she decided she was ok with the process, she stood next to the bed where her foal was laying and kept a watchful eye on him. As it was time to reassess the foal, I walked into the stall apprehensively, not knowing if the mare would be ok with someone handling her foal again. Instead of heading straight to the foal, I paused at momma’s head. I am a firm believer that a horse’s eye can tell you their thoughts and what they are feeling. This young mare had a kind eye with a gentle spirit radiating through her expression. As I started to kneel down to the sick foal, the mare placed her head onto my shoulder. For most horse people, this isn’t always a welcomed feeling especially when you don’t know the horse; having a horse’s mouth near such a vulnerable spot in your body can quickly turn disastrous but luckily, this mare meant me no harm, she just wanted to watch her foal. Over the several days that the mare and foal were in the NICU, the foal grew stronger and my respect for the mare became greater. She was taking to her job like a pro. She understood that the doctors and technicians were only trying to help her foal and at every turn, she demonstrated kindness to the humans and love for her foal. When the pair was finally able to head back to their farm, I shed a small tear of joy. It always great to see a baby able to overcome such sickness and its always wonderful to come across such remarkable new mothers.

    With the breeding season ramping up, I look forward to so many wonderful memories that I will be apart of. But most importantly, I look forward to spending time with the unsung hero’s of the breeding industry, the kind mares.


    December 18, 2012

    Dr. Ashley Craig

    The American Association of Equine Practitioners holds an annual convention that practitioners and students alike can attend. The location rotates every year and the convention always seems to offer fun mixed in with great educational opportunities. As an intern, I got the privilege of attending the convention in Anaheim, California next door to Disneyland!

    “Amazing”- is the only word that I can use to sum up the whirlwind four days that I spent at the AAEP convention. I flew out to California on Friday afternoon. Luckily, a fellow Tuskegee graduate and friend was on the same flight as me, so she and I got to catch up as we flew cross-country. Upon landing, I met up and caught a taxi with fellow Twitter friend- Dr. Nathan Voris. It was nice to spend the cab ride to the hotel discussing his job, my internship and the ins and outs of veterinary medicine. Parting ways at the hotel, I luckily got to meet up with my brother who drove down through L.A. traffic to have dinner with me. After spending some quality time with my older sibling, I headed straight to bed because I had an early start the next morning!

    One of the main reasons I got to attend the AAEP Convention was due to my position on the Student Relations Committee. The AAEP has an executive board, board of directors and several committees that help direct the organization. The Student Relations Committee is involved in directing the student AAEP chapters at veterinary schools, providing the short courses at the schools, choosing scholarship winners, and handling most student related programming. Last year, I was chosen as one of two students to join the committee. As a strong believer in organized veterinary medicine, I was honored to be a part of not only the AAEP but also a committee.

    Walking into the meeting, I took a look around and was excited to see three board of directors attending; students are important to the future of the profession! The agenda was detailed but the meeting went smoothly and ultimately the discussions were educational and important decisions made. Once the committee meeting was over, the discussions continued. I got to sit down with friend and mentor, Dr. Betsy Charles, for further talks relating to students, programming and also catching up on each other’s lives. What was supposed to just be a coffee turned into a three-hour conversation, which only ended because our other obligations started. It was a great time catching up with a great friend and someone who I respect greatly. That evening I headed off to spend the evening with two amazing ladies from the clinic, Nicole and Jamie. It was so enjoyable to spend time with these two friends away from the hustle and bustle of the clinic while also roaming around and socializing with other veterinarians and friends.

    As Sunday started, the opening ceremonies and the keynote speaker officially started the educational part of the convention. With my fellow Hagyard’s field care doctors, Dr. Ernie Martinez and Dr. Stuart Brown, we tweeted the important messages from every meeting that we attended (follow us on twitter! We are entertaining and educational!). With a calendar full of educational topics, hot button issues and round table discussions, I bounced from room to room to absorb as much information as possible. Sunday and Monday were filled with information and flew by. Sunday afternoon, I got to attend the student luncheon and meet several members of the AAEP executive board. The chance to discuss issues in depth with the leaders of the industry was a once in a lifetime chance. That evening, I got to attend the Avenues event where students roam around and network with practices from across the country. Speaking with students about my internship, Hagyard and passing along my personal advice to them, was a great time. Meeting future equine practitioners is always enjoyable and working at such a great practice where I get amazing experiences made speaking with students even more fun! As a special treat after Avenues, I got to spend some time at Disneyland, courtesy of Pfizer, with Dr. Wolfsdorf, theriogenologist at Hagyard. It was a night of fun, enjoyment and the kid in me coming out.

    After another day of exciting lectures and more networking, I finished the evening having dinner with several doctors from the practice. All too soon, it was time for me to board the plane and resume my duties in the field. So while I have described the convention as “Amazing”, one word doesn’t justify the time I had at the convention. While the education and committee meetings were very beneficial, I firmly believe that the greatest part of the convention, for me, was the networking opportunities. The chance to meet practitioners from all over the country, speak with the leaders of the equine veterinary world, and widen my network was the greatest part of the AAEP convention. Even though the jet lag hit hard once I hit Kentucky, I wouldn’t trade my time in California for anything. I came back even more determined to make my mark on the equine veterinary world. As I continue working, I hope to apply the lessons and knowledge that I acquired in my short time at the AAEP convention.

    Advice for Veterinary Students

    November 28, 2012

    Dr. Ashley Craig
    So this entry really is focused more towards the veterinary students who are thinking of doing an equine internship. If you are a practitioner, please feel free to leave comments on advice or suggestions you have for veterinary students. If you are an owner, trainer, horse lover or just an avid reader of the Hagyard Intern Blog- I hope this entry doesn’t bore you too much!!!

    As a first year veterinary student, a senior veterinary student gave me some great advice; it was this advice that led me down the path to an amazing internship at Hagyard. The student suggested that I do externships every summer of veterinary school. For some, this might seem like over kill, but for me it worked. The summer after my first year, I only completed one externship, but I started doing research and made my game plan for my future. Each summer, Christmas break, and spring break, I spent my time at different veterinary clinics completing externships. In the end, I was able to choose the internship that was the best fit for me when multiple internships were offered.

    So how did I decide where to go and which clinic was the best fit for me? Here is how I went about it.

    1. Look for clinics that focus on your area of interest. If you don’t know what area of equine medicine interests you, look at clinics with well-rounded internships.
    2. Environment- With this one, I am not talking about the weather or surroundings but more about the people. Do you like the practitioners? Do you like the staff? In 10 years, can you envision yourself being a practitioner at that clinic and being happy? Your work environment is important to consider when choosing an internship. Look at how the current interns are treated- this is a great view of how you will be treated in the internship.
    3. Mentorship- this has been a big buzzword in the past several years especially in the small animal world but it isn’t over-hyped. Mentorship is important to your career and future. Does the internship provide adequate mentorship or do they just turn you loose on day one? Are your mentors truly available to you at any time? How much supervision do you need or want in your internship?
    4. Location- Yes, you can do anything for a year but if you are unhappy with your location it makes for a difficult year. If you can’t stand the cold- don’t look in Colorado!
    5. Values- If your ethics do not align with the ethics of the practitioners, that clinic is probably not a good fit for you. In the same instance, if you are focused on good business practices, the clinic you do an internship at should also have good business practices.
    6. The right clinic for Suzie Shoes might not be the right clinic for Joe Smith, so don’t judge a clinic by someone else’s experience, rumors or preconceived ideas.

    Ultimately, I personally suggest visiting multiple clinics of different size and styles to find what works best for you. What you have in your head that you want as a first year student isn’t always what fits you best.

    So how about when you get there. The following are my tips on how to get the most out of an externship.

    During the externship:
    1. Be yourself. Even the world’s best actors or actresses can’t keep up the act for a year. If you present yourself in a normal fashion, the practice can see if you are a good fit for them as well.
    2. Learn as much as possible- Do this by listening, reading up on cases at night, following up with the practitioners, and asking questions at the appropriate time (aka not in front of the client, or while the practitioner is on the phone).
    3. Carry a small notebook to write down details about cases, tips the practitioner gives or the 50 things you will learn each day.
    4. If you are asked a question and truly don’t know the answer- be honest.
    5. Manners go a long way. Be nice to everyone- including technicians, barn staff, owners, etc. Ask the technicians if there is anything you can do to help such as carrying buckets or equipment, but don’t step on their toes.
    6. Don’t sit in the car texting, checking emails, or even talking on the phone. It demonstrates to most people a lack of respect.
    7. Take pictures of the cases (as long as you have the practitioner’s permission) so you can remember and share them with classmates later. BUT DON’T post them on Facebook!!! As a rule of thumb, keep everything off Facebook, even if you don’t think it could be traced back to a clinic or horse, it is best not to put it there.
    8. Pack a lunch. During the busy season, you never know when you are going to get a chance to eat or stop for lunch. If you have snacks or even a sandwich packed, it makes life easier and you can handle the long days like a pro =)
    9. Don’t expect to get to do much technically, but be prepared to if you get the opportunity!

    And in the end, have fun and learn as much as you can. Even if the clinic doesn’t end up being the right one for you- as long as you have learned a lot, it is a beneficial experience. Enjoy your time as an extern and make friends with your fellow externs- you never know who will be your intern-mate in the future!

    Pinterest Project

    November 7, 2012
    Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — @ 8:10 pm

    Wine Bottle Candle

    Wine Bottle Candles

    Dr. Ashley Craig
    Have you ever heard of Pinterest? Better yet, have you ever completed a craft off of Pinterest? The Field Care interns at Hagyard can say yes to both of these questions!

    If you are currently sitting there and wondering what Pinterest is, no need to search, I can explain! Pinterest is a social media site, similar to Facebook or Twitter, where people can make accounts and share things that they like such as recipes, projects, clothes, home decorations, or numerous other things. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, where words are the dominate form of communication, Pinterest is predominantly pictures. So when I want to share a recipe I like, I can pin a picture of the finished product to my Pinterest Board (envision a cork board on a virtual wall) and all of my friends can see it. I can also pin pictures of things I find online that I would like to try as well as browse my friends’ boards.

    While the internship at Hagyard is full of learning and work, the interns also get chances to relax and enjoy other things in life. One such evening happened after a long day working at the Keeneland Fall Sale. The Field Care interns decided to grill out at Bo’s (fellow internmate) house and enjoy a relaxing evening after an eventful day. A friend of Bo’s, who was also in attendance at the cookout, had recently seen a cool project on Pinterest where you can make candle holders out of wine bottles. Armed with the supplies to complete this project, we all joined in on the fun. Basically the finished product is the top ¾ of the wine bottle placed over a small teak candle. The prettier the bottle or label, the more interesting the candle holder will become. To accomplish this, you need an empty bottle of wine, cotton string, acetone, lighter, and a bucket of cold water.
    You first place the cotton string around the base of the bottle, soak the string in acetone, light the string on fire, and let it burn for almost a minute. Once the time is complete or the fire has burned out, you place the bottle in cold water. This causes the bottom of the bottle to crack off and then you have your candle holder! Bo and Jackie started off the project but both were extremely cautious and ended up wearing oven mitts and safety goggles. Better to be safe than sorry when playing with fire, gas and flammable substances! The first bottle worked perfectly, the second took several tries until it finally decided to crack.

    Ultimately the project was a success and gave us two candle holders to use for our next evening cookout. It also was a lot of fun and allowed all of the parties involved to laugh and try our hands at something different! A change of pace is always welcomed and allows us to refresh our minds for the next day filled with hard work and challenges.

    Life on the Road

    October 9, 2012
    Bourbon Chase Team

    Life on the Road by Dr. Jackie Snyder

    As an ambulatory intern at the biggest equine clinic in the world, I am quickly learning how to live life on the road.   I have already put several thousand miles on my SUV on the beautiful, windy roads of central Kentucky.  I have a spill proof coffee mug & water bottle, snacks stowed away for days when lunch doesn’t happen, and a great playlist on my iPod for a pick me up between farm calls.  Thus, I thought I would be prepared for a 30 hour road trip with some fellow coworkers, and their family and friends. We were embarking on an adventure called the “Bourbon Chase.” We had spent months training for this 200 mile relay run, but all of the preparation and training in the world  could not prepare us for the mental and physical challenge we were about to put ourselves through. I quickly found out that our road trip was going to test even the most experienced ambulatory practitioners.

    The race started off at the Maker’s Mark Distillery. Our team consisted of 12 runners; each running three legs of the race to cover 200 miles into downtown Lexington.  We would run through the night, decked out in our reflective gear and headlamps.  Each suburban (with six runners and one driver) would take turns making stops for a couple hours of sleep on the gym floor in Danville, grabbing food, and finding real bathrooms.  We would run through the Wild Turkey, Four Roses, and Woodford Reserve distilleries before running past many of the beautiful horse farms we work on, and into downtown Lexington.

    A big challenge for any ambulatory practitioner is keeping your truck stocked appropriately.  So what did we have to stock to make it through this journey?

    -         Over 24,000 mgs of NSAIDs

    -         About 1200 ounces of Gatorade/Powerade (That’s enough to fill a small swimming pool!)

    -         4 pairs of ear plugs so that we can sleep through the snoring (we should have brought more!)

    -         18 sticks of deodorant (yes- there were extras)

    -         48 pairs of socks

    -         7 sleeping bags (Yes, not quite enough)

    -         Numerous Shot Blocks, Gatorade Performance gels, & Gu gels

    -         1 Big Mac & fries (Any guesses on the consumer?)

    I was very proud of our team. A great deal of time, dedication, and training went into crossing that finish line 200 miles later. We suffered greatly (two toenails were lost during the run), but we suffered together and that’s what made it so much fun.  Each individual had a specific task to accomplish, and none of us could have made it without our team.  Honestly,
    it reminds me a lot of our practice. Everyone has their own clients and responsibilities, but at the end of the day it is a team effort to get the job done.

    I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone that supported us by either covering on-call duties for us, sending us words of encouragement, or showing up to watch us cross that finish line.  Finally, thank you to Runovia for sponsoring our team!  GO TEAM HAGYARD!!

    Team Hagyard was brought to you by…

    Lindsey “The Pharmacy” Roberts

    Luke “The Duke” Fallon

    Jenn “Take 3min off my time” Feiner

    Ernie “Big E” Martinez

    Rocky “Balboa” Mason

    Wendy “Smile for the Camera” Mason

    Gerrod “The Flash” Green

    Laura “EPF” Riley

    CJ “Where’s my MATE” Smith

    Jackie “Livin’ the Dream” Snyder

    Jill “Just Wingin’ It” Westerholm

    Amber “13.1” Gebhard

    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.