"Lots of people talk to animals.... Not very many listen, though.... That's the problem."
– Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
From the first time I touched a horse, I was hooked. And now over twenty-something years later, horses are a part of my daily life, literally. As beautiful and wonderful as horses are, they are a lot of work. They need to eat multiple times each day, regardless of the weather. They have very sensitive digestive systems. They weigh (on average) 1200-1500lbs. They have an innate "flight" mechanism that is triggered by noises, shapes, movements or my favorite, "the imaginary monster by the arena." They can be "hard keepers" or "easy keepers," but regardless we "keep" them all. We all "get into horses" because they can teach us things; they challenge us athletically, they provide us partnership like no other, and they can help others heal from trauma in their lives. But man, they are a lot of work.
A big part of owning a horse, or being around horses (or dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, cows, birds, pigs, etc....) is healthcare. When to take them to a vet. When to treat it yourself. How to look for warning signs. And more importantly, how to prevent issues in the first place. It is peace of mind knowing that you have a vet you can trust; and also peace of mind knowing that you have educated yourself as an animal owner to do all that you can. And that education should start early; after all, most of us had/have pets as children who were a big part of our lives.
Each summer, our "in house" large animal vet, Robbie, hosts a Junior Vet Camp at Triple Play Farm in Davidson -- teaching and inspiring young minds and hearts who have all said at some point, "I want to be a vet when I grow up." And let me tell you, this camp is no joke. It's a serious, anatomy-quizzing, leg-wrapping, pulse-checking, teeth-floating, getting-your-hands-dirty three days. With some crazy games in between topics, a graduation at the end of it all, and loads of cool swag to take home. Campers leave smarter than they arrived, and its safe to say that the supervising adults (and photographer) tend to learn a bunch, too.
For those who might have been wondering, this is how you bandage a horse's leg with a cat on your lap.
Junior Vet Camp is one of my favorite events I have the opportunity to document. I get to spend three "working" days at a farm that I love, surrounded by people and horses that I love. And I am reminded why I am so grateful to have a vet like Robbie in our lives -- always willing to share knowledge, compassion and patience -- so that we all may take better care of our animals. And because these big creatures always seem to be getting hurt (!!), you want a vet like him at your side when things go wrong.
If even just ONE of his inspired campers makes the career move to attend vet school, the animal world will be a better place.
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
- ANATOLE FRANCE