March 5, 2013
Dr. Ashley Craig
Have you ever worked with an animal that just instantly touches your heart? Just reaches down into your soul and plants a hoof firmly there? For those of us who work with animals on a daily basis, we have a list of animals, in my case- horses, that I hold near and dear to my heart. Every patient that I meet is special in one way or another but it takes an extraordinary animal to leave an imprint on my heart. One such horse walked into my life while I was on a rotation at Medicine. He was a tall lanky handsome colt who just wasn’t responding to treatment in the field for his medical problem. I met him on a Monday morning and he quickly won me over. His medical problem required extensive treatments which took not only time on the doctor’s part, but also patience from the colt. With every treatment that was performed, the colt was calm and seemed to understand that we were trying to help. I caught myself wondering if maybe he just felt that bad that he wasn’t reacting in a way that would be expected of a young stud colt, but I was later proven that wasn’t the case.
One morning I stepped into the colt’s stall just to take a deep breath; I stood there rubbing his handsome face, he dropped his head into my chest, looked at me with his kind eyes and just let me love on him. I am not sure who needed this time more, me or the colt. As time progressed, the colt’s condition finally started improving but his patient attitude and kind ways never changed. By the end of my rotation at Medicine, he was able to go home to continue treatment under the watchful eye of his owners and the Hagyard’s Field vet. A few times I visited the farm where the colt was born, raised and was recovering and I always made a point to stop and spend a couple of quiet minutes checking on his progress and visiting with the colt.
One morning I met up with the primary Field vet who helped manage the colt’s recovery and got to help with a thorough re-check of the colt’s progress. As we did an extensive examination of the colt, I was reminded again exactly how kind he was. Looking up from my ultrasound screen towards the colt’s head, I saw him drop his head into his owner’s arms as she rubbed on his head. When the primary Field vet gave the word that his condition was 95% resolved and was continuing to improve on a daily basis, the smiles that came on the owner’s face lit up the room. At that moment, I realized just how remarkable this young stud colt was. He had touched not only my heart but the heart of his owners who run a large farm. His courageous and kind spirit in the face of hard times will serve him well as he heads to the racetrack. I am lucky to have had the chance to meet him and to be a small part of his life; he has firmly left a footprint on my heart.
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!