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Healing Horses and other Critters

The Tip of the Needle, How it all Started

USA | Monday, 23 March 2015 | Views [292]

My passion in veterinary medicine is helping working equids, who are an essential part of life in developing countries. They are transportation for food, water, and goods and can also be a source of income for a family. Last October I spent a week working in various areas of Nicaragua with Equitarian Initiative and The Donkey Sanctuary focusing on veterinary care for the working equine. I realized very quickly that there are many limitations to western medical treatment in these remote areas. We only had access to a few medications in this country and to often the choice had to be made about which horses was in more need of the treatment.

 One late evening, after working in the field for over eight hours, a horse presented to us with massive lacerations along his back and rump. The owner revealed that the horse was beaten with a Machete about 1 week ago. Not only was the laceration deep, but it was also evidently infected. The horse was evidently in pain and his current state was not only inhumane but also heartbreaking. I kept thinking there had to be some way to relieve this patient’s pain and that as veterinary professionals we couldn’t just leave him to suffer. We ended up cleaning the wound and did the best job we could with the supplies we had, but we did not have access to any other medications. After an hour of cleaning we had to discharge the patient. This lack of pain medications and antibiotics is a very common occurrence for practicing veterinarians in developing countries, as attaining these drugs can be extremely expensive and sometimes are not available in a certain country.

Once I returned to my veterinary school, North Carolina State University CVM, the first lecture back was our anesthesiology lecture at 8am. Fate seemed to be waiting for me as the lecture was given by Dr. Campbell on an introduction to Acupuncture. One of the largest things he emphasized was the success of acupuncture for treating pain in horses. I felt very inspired and on the verge of tears to learn that there are other options for treating pain and another avenue of medicine. I want to continue working with outreach projects in developing countries and holistic medicine techniques could be very crucial treatments when limited supplies are available. I hope that in the future I never have to turn away a patient in desperate need, due to lack of western medications.

Being a 2nd year Veterinary Student at North Carolina State University they integrate holistic medicine into our curriculum and encourage us to pursue further training in it as an adjunct to western medicine.  I had considered pursing training in Holistic Medicine on numerous occasions. However, the fact that my university not only recognized it but taught it as part of our anesthesiology course was what really made me realize how critical holistic medicine is going to be in the future of veterinary medicine.  They also incorporated holistic medicine into other course, for example our course on animal behavior. One of the main take home points in that class was the use of aroma therapy and using many organic and natural scents to help sooth our patients with anxiety issues. At NCSU we also have a very active SAHVMA club that has many wet labs and lectures to encourage and improve the amount of holistic medicine exposure and training that we receive at the university.

My career path as a veterinarian is towards treating equids. My passion in veterinary medicine is focused on working equids of all shapes and sizes and performance horses. Horses that are used daily for very strenuous and difficult jobs. Some of these horses have jobs to provide the sole income for a family or individual by pulling brick or other goods, like many horses in developing countries. Some of these horses have just as important jobs, to take care of the precious cargo that is on their back, the children and loved ones of a family. I want to be able to improve the performance and health of theses horses to improve the lives of the families they belong to. My main focus in equine medicine is on orthopedic and performance medicine addressing the musculoskeletal issues that arise from these very strenuous activities. I hope to continue on and complete an internship in equine medicine at a hospital that can further my education in the clinical aspects in sport and working horses. I see myself becoming a general practitioner and continuing to do outreach projects abroad in adjunct to my career.

In November I applied for the Chi Institute Equine Acupuncture course in Guangzhou, China and was accepted to attend the course in May 2015.  I was then accepted in the RAVS vets outreach project in Guatemala for June 26th-July 5th. I will finish up the summer in Nicaragau working for World Vets at their sterilization center in Granada. This summer will be full of adventure, travel, and most importantly healing. 



Tags: acupuncture, chi institute, healing, horses, ravs vets, soul searching, veterinary medicine, world vets

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