The Calm Before the Storm

    February 1, 2013
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    Calm before the storm

    Calm before the storm

    Dr. Ashley Craig
    January in Kentucky is an unpredictable time. We all are waiting patiently for the hustle and bustle of breeding season to start but often times the start can be unpredictable. Thoroughbred, and other breeds that are registered, all share a birthday of January 1st, but not all foals are born exactly on or even near that date. Equine vets in Central Kentucky are sitting on go at the start of January, just waiting for the storm of foaling season to start.

    One quiet week in medicine in the middle of January left me wandering if breeding season would ever get here. My thoughts must have reached mare’s ears because it wasn’t moments later that it seemed as if there weren’t enough people to handle the influx of newborn foals entering the hospital. I am not sure if it was a change in weather, the moon, or just time, but a steady stream of mares and foals signaled the start of the breeding season. As quickly as the flow started, it stopped again, leaving me slightly perplexed. A mentor suggested to me that it was just like a storm; you knew it was coming, you could feel the change in the atmosphere and a short burst of activity was just a sign that it would all start soon. Her description reminded me of the movie Twister- where Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton watched a small tornado quickly pull back into the clouds as fast as it had descended. Bill Paxton analyzed the sky and realized that the tornado wasn’t done but was just “back building”. To me, this is the perfect example of the atmosphere in Central Kentucky in January. It is the calm before the storm and the rush of foaling season is just “back building” until the right moment arrives for it to touch down and start. Until that time, I am sitting on Go- just waiting on the call.

    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!