From Sperry’s to Boots: Third Year Skills
Those of you who have read my biography know that I am intensely
focused on small animal medicine. I prefer Sperry Top-Siders over
cowboy boots and like to wear Ray-Bans with my bow ties on game
day. I grew up in the suburbs of Houston and have always been a
city boy. Thanks to some family friends I was able to ride horses
growing up, but I have never been keen on large animal
Well, in veterinary school, regardless of your focus, you work
with everything: cats, dogs, horses, cows, birds, goats, pigs, etc.
During our third year we have a skills lab where we learn the more
technical aspects of veterinary medicine with actual animals. This
past month I was in large animal skills. This city boy had to trade
in his Sperry's for some cowboy boots. I was sure to scuff them up
a little before we started skills labs so the good ol' boys
wouldn't judge me too much.
Fortunately for me, they start large animal skills lab from a
basic level, where we learn methods of restraint and how to put a
halter on a horse and a cow. Each subsequent week we acquire new
skills. A farrier in the large animal hospital taught us how to
trim hooves and apply and remove shoes on an excellent hoof model.
We also trimmed goat hooves and learned how to cast cows (which is
basically a fancy way of saying "get them to lie down"). Blood
collection is another crucial skill in veterinary medicine, and
skills lab allowed us to practice blood draws from large animals of
every variety. My favorite memory of large animal skills was
passing a nasogastric tube in a horse, where you have one end of
the tube in your mouth and the other end in the horses' stomach-a
frightening thought for non-horse people.
A farrier in the
large animal hospital taught us how to trim hooves and apply and
remove shoes on an excellent hoof model.
I loved every minute of large animal skills and looked forward
to those special four hours of my Wednesday morning that kept me
out of the classroom and doing hands-on activities. It is easy to
get bogged down sitting through countless hours of lecture, and at
times it's easy to forget why you wanted to go to vet school in the
first place. Skills lab brought things back in perspective for me
and I even was able to utilize these skills I had just gained
outside of the vet school. A classmate of mine has a blind horse,
Fancy, and a "seeing eye goat", Rigby. Rumor has it the goat is
supposed to help the horse get around…in reality, Rigby just eats a
lot; he's 250 pounds and is not my biggest fan. My friend needed
help trimming his hooves, so we went out to the barn and used the
skills that we had just learned to take care of the job. Rigby
tried to put me on the ground a few times; fortunately, I had
learned appropriate restraint techniques. It also happened that the
farrier was coming to trim Fancy's hooves and had caught wind of
our recent skill set. Of course, he insisted on us trimming her
feet that day. I was amazed at how well the model replicated
trimming an actual horses' hoof and that I was able to put into
practice the skills that I had just acquired.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed myself during large animal skills, I
haven't changed my mind about being a large animal vet. I still
belong with small animals, but I'm hopeful I won't look too foolish
in the large animal hospital... then again, there is still quite a
bit of time before graduation. Until next time, Gig'em!