#NationalEquineVetWeek: Horse Nation Staff Sends Its Thanks

We’re all horse owners and horse lovers here at Horse Nation — which means our lives and our horses’ lives have been changed for the better by our equine veterinarians. We’re thanking our veterinarians here!

In honor of National Equine Veterinarian Week, the weeklong celebration that was the brainchild of our friends at SmartPak with Henry Schein Animal Health and the Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners (NEAEP), we at Horse Nation are taking the opportunity to thank our equine veterinarians from every corner of the nation for their tireless good work keeping our horses happy and healthy. We hope you enjoy our stories and feel welcome to write your own thank-you message to your equine veterinarian in the comments!

Leslie Threlkeld: My mom and I like to joke that if an animal becomes a Threlkeld, it’s bound to contract/come with a weird and unusual illness that is totally out of anyone’s control to prevent. My horse’s picture is actually posted in the Auburn University vet school’s waiting room, and it’s been there for a decade. For our dogs, cats and horses, our vets have been patient, attentive and sympathetic for nearly 30 years. And for as many times as we’ve moved, we’ve always found someone to give our animals the quality care we could hope for. We are forever grateful.

Lindsey Kahn: I bought my first horse at age 13, and quickly learned that my gelding was, shall we say, a bit accident-prone. Two months after I bought him, he impaled himself on some mystery object and narrowly missed severing his carotid artery. Our vets came to know him very well. One morning in spring 2009, I received one of those fun phone calls that began with, “So the vet just left…” I broke speed limits driving to the barn, and was greeted with an aisle decorated with blood.

Not what I expected to see when I opened the stall door. Photo by Lindsey Kahn

Not what I wanted to see when I opened the stall door. Photo by Lindsey Kahn

Fortunately, my horse had the foresight to run shoulder-first into a gate while the vet was there for spring shots. Thanks, buddy. After a couple of weeks of tending his pus-oozing, dirt-collecting sutures with check-ins from his awesome doctor, my horse’s shoulder healed up nicely with the tiniest of scars.

From providing routine check-ups and emergency visits to offering compassionate care at the end of a beloved pet’s life, veterinarians are the biggest reason for my animals’ health and happiness. I’m eternally grateful for their expertise, integrity, and kindness.

Lorraine Jackson: There are about 3,167 reasons that I love the many equine vets who have come into my life over the years, but perhaps the most important one was two summers ago when we had to say goodbye to our 31-year-old Arabian mare, Jurnisa. For all the life-saving acts that vets do every day, physically, putting a horse down is perhaps one of the less difficult and technical jobs, but emotionally one of the toughest.

Dr. Summer Peterson came out late at night after Jurnisa colicked, and because of her age and physical limitations, we knew what was coming and our vet was there in a heartbeat. Dr. Peterson administered the drugs and stayed with us as she went down and faded away quickly. I’ve seen a few of these in my day, and I can say that our sweet lady went faster than I’ve ever seen. She went down softly and never shuddered, never took another breath. She was just gone like that. And I’ll never forget what Doctor P. said next: “She was ready to go.”

There’s a lot of moments of doubt in one’s equestrian life, making life or death decisions for you and your animal. But her words brought all of us a lot of peace to know to know Jurnisa had gone exactly when she was supposed to, and that we didn’t make her linger needlessly or cut her life short. It really was just her time. So, to every vet who has ever eased that burden, and particularly Dr. Peterson, thank you.

Photo by Russ Evans

Jurnisa in her prime, circa 1992. Photo by Russ Evans

Amanda Uechi Ronan: My vet, Dr. Rob Thoni of Kilgore Veterinary Associates, has been an absolute godsend. I first met him around 2003 when Aggie strained something in his his sacroiliac region after slipping a leg under a fence during a thunderstorm. I remember he gave me a significant college student discount back then … those were the days.

He’s seen plenty of my milestones, not just with my horses, but personally as well. Every time he sees my daughter he teases her about when I had to be escorted from the building during a set of Aggie’s x-rays…where I loomed impatiently stretching my neck to see until I heard his, “All clear.” You see, I was six months pregnant with her at the time.

He was one of the first vets in the state — if not the country — to have a digital x-ray machine. He was one of the first vets in the state — if not the country — to use stem cells to treat tendon and ligament injuries. He was one of the first vets in the state — if not the country — to perform reconstructive spinal surgery for kissing spine.

For all that, he’s a mild mannered “good ol’ boy.” You have to practically force him at gunpoint to tell you about his accomplishments and he only ever gets riled when you claim Texas A&M University is better than Oklahoma State. He prefers to call Aggie “Red,” because of that collegiate rivalry. He has lent me books from his private collection to study and always answers my calls. Thanks, Dr. Thoni, for all you’ve done for me and my horses.

Kristen Kovatch: My shout-out for National Equine Veterinarian Week goes to Dr. Sasha Hill of the Cleveland Equine Clinic. All of the vets at Cleveland are fabulous (shout-outs to Dr. Genovese and Dr. Miller as well) so it was hard to narrow it down to just one — but I’ve been lucky enough to work with Dr. Hill both in my previous job as a professional, managing a school herd, and again now as a private owner. She’s one of those rare vets with both the expertise and research experience to handle a huge variety of injuries, maladies and preventative care, as well as the personality that makes you feel like you’re talking to your really smart, fun barn friend. Dr. Hill can deliver a prognosis, explain what she’s doing, what she’s planning to do next and crack a joke all at the same time.

That’s all well and good for me, but I also have to only look at my horse Randy to see firsthand a living example of her expertise. Thanks to Dr. Hill, Randy’s squamous cell carcinoma was safely and successfully removed — in the nick of time — and he’ll be able to live a full and happy life with full sight.

Go thank your equine veterinarian — and go riding!

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