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International Programs Student Trip Reports
In keeping with Texas A&M’s Vision 2020 objective of graduating students with a global perspective based on global experiences, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences provides a limited number of travel stipends to students to help them gain international work/study experiences. The following travel reports give an overview of what our students learned while living, working, and studying abroad.
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Hong Kong - Stephanie Yip

Hong Kong - Stephanie Yip As I was thinking about where to do my externships during my fourth year, the choices seemed endless. How could I choose just one (or two) practices to spend time in when there were so many to choose from? Then a presentation that a former fellow vet student, Hanlin Song, had given a couple of years ago came to mind. With the help of Hanlin, I contacted the vets in Hong Kong, and before I knew it, I was sitting on the plane on my way to Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has a total of 15 vets who oversee the welfare of all the horses living in Hong Kong as well as any horses that are imported or exported.  5-6 veterinarians work at the racetracks and take care of the approximately 1200 horses that live at the racetrack. In addition, there are three public riding schools and a handful of private riding schools, which another three veterinarians oversee.

Scoping horse at HKJCThe first two weeks I was there, I worked with the equestrian vets who went around to the different riding schools. A normal day consisted of arriving at 8:30AM and then riding with one of the vets to the numerous riding schools around the city. I saw a variety of cases including dermatologic cases and occasionally even colic cases, but most were lameness cases because the majority of horses were ex-racehorses that had been retrained for English disciplines (i.e. dressage, show jumping, and eventing). During my time with the equestrian vets, I had the opportunity to get some hands on experience, including drawing blood, bandaging, helping take radiographs, and doing joint injections. Driving around with the vets was also a great way to see the city. I had visited Hong Kong before, but I had the opportunity to see the outskirts of the city (and the nature around it) on this trip instead of just spending time in the middle of the city.

The last two weeks I was there, I spent time with the track vets in the main hospital at the racetrack. There are a total of 24 trainers in Hong Kong, and each vet is assigned to a handful of trainers. A normal day there started at 7:45AM. Usually, the vets went around to the different stables and performed any injections needed (i.e. Banamine, antibiotics, etc.) and scoped horses following morning exercise upon the trainers' requests in the morning. Then in the afternoon, the vets would work-up any cases they thought were necessary and perform treatments such as joint injections, shockwave therapy, etc. While I was there, I even had the opportunity to see several surgeries, including tie-backs and arthroscopic procedures.

On race days, I had the privilege of following the vets. There were two races a week, usually on Sundays during the day and on Wednesdays at night. Each vet was assigned to a particular duty, which included following the horses during a race, checking for any injuries sustained during the race/nasal bleeding, sampling, and bronchoscopy. I also received a behind-the-scenes tour of the racetrack. I was shown how the jockeys weighed in and out, watched horses being tacked up, and also visited the stewards room where they watched each race from several different angles to make sure each horse had the best chance to race as well as it could.  The experience I received on the racetracks far exceeded any expectations I had. I spent most of my time following the horses around the track in the "ambulance". It was exhilarating watching the speed and power of those great athletes.

Overall, my experience in Hong Kong was amazing, to say the least. Every vet had graduated from a different vet school (i.e. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and many others) and had vastly different experiences before coming to Hong Kong. It was a great opportunity to see several perspectives on approaching similar problems seen in the US while I was there. I also had the chance to brush up on my clinical knowledge and get some more hands-on experience. I got an inside look at a premiere racetrack and met some amazing people along the way. If given the chance, I would love to go back to the Hong Kong Jockey Club in the future.

Horses on Track

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