Horse Doctor: An American Vet’s Life Down Under

How I got here is a book unto itself. It would make a good read. But that is another story and will have to wait for another time. I am an American transplant living in South Australia, and I am also a horse vet. As a not-so-minor aside, I am also a single mother of an eleven-(going on twenty-one) year-old girl. I have lived in Australia since 1991.

I love my work and my life here. I thought this was a temporary move and a bit of an adventure. Thirteen years later, it is looking less temporary, but—no kidding—it is an adventure! I never planned to stay, but 2 Horse Doctor now I will probably finish out my professional career right here in Gawler, South Australia.

One can never tell the future path one may go down. The lure of flyfishing (my third love) in the streams of California or the thought of tormenting my American-based sisters might sway me back to the United States when I retire, but for now this is home …

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Elizabet Woolsey Author - Horse Doctor: An American Vet's Life Down Under

Horse Doctor: An American Vet's Life Down Under

Author Elizabeth Woolsey-Herbert offers a unique and touching story ofher life as an equine veterinarian in semirural Australia. As an Americanliving in a foreign country for fourteen years, she observes thedifferences in Australia compared to her native California.

The singlemother of an eleven-year-old daughter, she also combines work andfamily commitments.With wit and wisdom, Dr. Woolsey-Herbert faces an assortment ofdaily dilemmas:? Charlie needs to place well in an upcoming race, but he can't put hisfoot to the ground.

Will he be able to race in three days in order toqualify for the most important race of his life?? Herbie has a severe toxicity. He can't see, and he can't walk straight.His owner has big plans for him, but will he survive the night?? Cooper needs costly, life-saving surgery.

His owner, Amanda, can't afford it. What will become of Cooper? Dr. Woolsey-Herbert deftly intermingles descriptions of Australian life and the people she meets in her daily travels with her touching true stories. With humor and in-depth descriptions, Horse Doctor will captivate the horse lover in you.

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Horse Doctor: An American Vet's Life Down Under

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How I got here is a book unto itself. It would make a good read. But that is another story and will have to wait for another time. I am an American transplant living in South Australia, and I am also a horse vet. As a not-so-minor aside, I am also a single mother of an eleven-(going on twenty-one) year-old girl. I have lived in Australia since 1991.

I love my work and my life here. I thought this was a temporary move and a bit of an adventure. Thirteen years later, it is looking less temporary, but—no kidding—it is an adventure! I never planned to stay, but 2 Horse Doctor now I will probably finish out my professional career right here in Gawler, South Australia.

One can never tell the future path one may go down. The lure of flyfishing (my third love) in the streams of California or the thought of tormenting my American-based sisters might sway me back to the United States when I retire, but for now this is home.

Every day as I head out on my horse calls, I think, Pinch me; they are paying me to do this? One afternoon, instead of torturing my staff with “old people’s” music, I was complaining bitterly about the emergency I was driving to late in the afternoon. I was probably tired from a prior late night.

My nurse, who had to accompany me, said something like, “Well, it might be something to write in the book one day.” I wondered aloud if many people would be interested in what we did. My nurse assured me that people would be interested and that someday I should write a book. That someday came, and it was time to start writing down some of the things that were happening in my daily life here in Australia.

I’ll start with a day that occurred in our Australian springtime of October 2004. As an equine veterinarian (let’s just shorten that to “horse vet”), I am required to attend emergencies, because there are no emergency clinics for horses like there are for people or small animals.

It is often overwhelming in the foaling season. In Australia, the foaling season is between August and December. In recent years, with the proliferation of some of the breeds that aren’t under pressure for early foals (warm bloods and minis), the season has been extended to March.

During the birth process, if a mare doesn’t deliver a foal in about twenty minutes from the time she starts in active labor, there may be problems. The technical term is dystocia, which means difficult birth. I have been a veterinarian both in the United States and here in Australia.

Over my twenty-year veterinary career, I’ve averaged two dystocias per year, which require me to attempt to extract a live foal before it dies, or a dead foal before the mother dies. In mid-November 2004, I was up to my twelfth or thirteenth (I’ve lost count). With dystocias, it is important to get to the mare as quickly as possible and try to correct the position of the foal’s head or legs so the foal can be delivered.

Often, positional correction requires the use of stainless-steel chains that are passed in behind a bent leg or over the head of the foal. The chain is then looped through itself, and the leg or head is pulled into the pelvic canal. The normal foaling position is with the two front legs preceding the head in a nose-dive position through the pelvic canal.

If the leg is flexed or the elbow is hung up at the bottom of the pelvic brim, then the foal becomes stuck. The A Day in the Life 3 forces generated by the mare to expel the foal are incredible. Mares can push their intestines out the rectum or vagina in the attempt to push out a foal. This is a death sentence. So, when a foal becomes lodged, it is usually a very tight area that I work in.

Often, even with the chain around the leg, it is still hard to get the leg unbent and out. I have handles that attach to the chains, and I and whoever is helping me usually get down on the ground, with our legs planted in the mare’s thighs, and brace ourselves to pull out the body.

During one foaling this year, it took two hours to get the chain around the foal’s leg, and it still took me and two big men to straighten out the leg. Surprisingly, that foal lived. Oh, did I mention that I am approaching fifty-four years of age and that I am five feet, two inches and weigh 112 pounds? It’s just a minor detail. I may be getting on, but I am definitely not giving in to nature.

When I started my veterinary career, my first few dystocias were scary. I thought I was too little and not strong enough. However, I found that my size was usually an advantage and that my skinny arms were rarely too short. I can get in where big guys can’t. I have also developed my small brain (a matter of density) and have found ways to get around my longitudinal and strength challenges.

After a foaling, I am fairly disgusting. There are usually fetal fluids and dirt from my neck to my socks. Often there is no part of my body that isn’t either bruised or sore. My hands and arms are particularly sore and bruised from having the mare push the foal against the razor-sharp brim of her pelvis, with me in the middle.

After a dystocia, I usually take all my clothes off just inside the laundry door and head for the shower, where my hair feels like Brillo from having my hands wet and soaked in fluids for so long and having been in contact with fetal membranes for so long.

Yet I love doing dystocias, and so far this year I have been fairly successful with them. I even did a cesarean section on a miniature horse when I couldn’t get the foal out. If the foal can’t be put into position to come out, then another option is to cut it out (limb by limb) using obstetrical wire through the vagina and cervix. This is an ugly job, and not for the fainthearted.

Okay, let’s get started on the day at hand. Cue the morning music (“Morning” from the first movement of the Peer Gynt Suite), even though it is a bit early. For those of you, like me, who would not know what that tune is, it’s the music they play in Looney Toons cartoons when they depict a morning scene.

Cue the rooster crowing—no, magpie warbling—even if it is a bit early. Cue the phone ringing, even if it is a bit early. No, it’s way too early. Don’t cue the phone. Turn off the phone. Darn, it’s too late. 4 Horse Doctor The phone is ringing, and it is a friend of a client asking if I can attend her mare that is foaling.

I had examined the mare at my regular client’s stud farm for pregnancy but was not the regular veterinarian for this lady, as she lived too far away. Things sounded grim. They had found the mare an hour ago with a foot and some fetal membranes hanging out of her vulva. It was then five thirty in the morning.

They couldn’t contact their regular veterinarian, and they were forty-five minutes away. It was still dark but starting to get lighter. It had rained all night, but the sky looked like it was clearing. It was nippy out, and my eleven year-old was asleep and needed to get to school in a few hours. I really wanted to tell the woman to keep trying to contact the other vet, but seconds count.

This is the agony of my life. My daughter, Shelley, could use the sleep, so I decided for the first time ever to let her stay home alone in the early morning. (Although she had stayed there alone many times during the day.) I knew one of my staff would be there in time to drive her to school, so I told her, “Sandy will be here in a few minutes.” Yeah right, more like about an hour or two, I thought to myself and left the room.

Shelley never heard her door close, as she had fallen back to sleep. As I dressed, I realized I needed no more than a heavy jumper (Australian for “sweater”). Despite the early spring, frosts are rare, and a cold winter morning requires “rugging up” as they would say. As I walked outside, the family of magpies sitting in the trees next to the house were talking away.

The sound was very melodic and might be compared to a group of kindergartners playing recorders. They are my normal alarm clock. I am an early riser. I have no problems getting up any time of the night for emergencies, other than in my first hour of sleep. Get me up in that first hour after falling asleep, and I am liable to be very rude and to charge more.

I loaded the car with my cold packs and warm water. I checked to make sure the chains were in the car, and I was off. I couldn’t understand the directions the horse owner had given to me. The mare was agisted (Australian for “boarded”) in the hills. Most rural South Australian roads are unmarked. The woman didn’t know the road names, but she knew the landmarks. However, I hadn’t ever been there, so the landmarks were foreign to me.

My favorite expression for these types of places is, “You can’t get there from here.” That truly applied to this place. So I agreed to meet the owner at the servo (Australian for “service station,” which is not really a service station, but a petrol station. Over here, gas means “a gas”).

I live on the plains thirty miles north of the capital city, Adelaide, which has a population of around one million. I am on the fringe of civilization, and all A Day in the Life 5 around me are dirt roads. At least one-third of the roads I travel over are dirt. So, after about twenty minutes of driving, I was on a dirt road in the hills seeing kangaroos.

Kangaroos are not as common in Australia as you might think. Where I am, down in the plains, I might see a roo once every two years. The last one down here had a broken leg and was hiding in the wheat field of the airfield next door. The roo jumped out when my neighbor Bill Millowick, who is approaching eighty, was passing in a sulky, driving his young pacer to the racetrack down the road.

The pacer bolted, and Bill got tipped out. Two people saw the roo, but no one ever caught it. Up in the hills, they are common in the early morning and evening. Seeing them is like seeing deer in the States. After meeting up at the petrol station, I now followed the lady in my car. She had already resigned herself to the idea that the foal was dead, but she wanted to save the mare, which can be just as tricky.

She was traveling along at a good pace, and I was wondering if my bonnet (Australian for “hood”) was going to be sporting a new hood ornament with fur. (Kangaroos are the cause of many road accidents in the hills.) As I drove into the hills, the sun was coming up, and the foliage went from the California-summer dry look to the green of Alabama (minus the kudzu).

It was densely forested with pine plantations and native eucalyptus. The Australians call them gum trees. There are over seven hundred species of eucalyptus, and the different varieties make the forest look diversified. The reflection of light off the foliage, caused by rain from the night before, was dazzling.

The verdant hills sharply contrast with the arid plains where I live, and I love going up into the hills just to see the green vegetation. After several road changes, we arrived at a little country cottage. There were small grassy fenced-in quarter-acre paddocks that were surrounded by dense trees and foliage. I worked my way through a maze of fences and gates so I could park as close as possible to the mare.

The caretaker was unprepared for me, so I had to explain my need to be close with my equipment. The mare was an average-size, pretty chestnut Thoroughbred, probably weighing a little over one thousand pounds, or just under five hundred kilograms. She was lying down until we approached her, and then she stood, never to voluntarily go down again.

As she grazed, she would occasionally push, and out would come one hoof. The ground was wet and slippery, but there was good cover, so it wasn’t as dusty as the conditions with which I usually had to contend. The owner was a very sophisticated woman who could pass as an executive businesswoman. She probably was.

She was medium in height and thin, with neat, straight blonde hair. Neither she nor the caretaker had a halter or any means of restraint, and it was then that I looked at the lady attending the foaling mare. 6 Horse Doctor The caretaker was heavily pregnant herself and had a three-year-old who was glued to her hand. She was in her pregnancy dress and sandals. She had long, curly red hair braided behind her back.

She was the perfect Madonna, or earth mother, of the sixties. The owner was probably not going to be much help either. I was concerned for the safety of the pregnant lady (i.e., lawsuit material). It never fails to amaze me that even though they know I am coming, there is no head collar (halter) or rope in sight. So, after more time was lost, the head collar was finally produced.

I had the pregnant lady stand back. I wondered what the owner thought she was doing leaving the horse with this lady in both of their present conditions. I couldn’t imagine what help she would be, even with a minor problem. The resident caretaker and her daughter had slept out with the pregnant horse two nights ago, but they had opted for the warmth and dryness of the house the next night, as it was cold and raining.

Horses can be fitted with foaling alarms that alert the attendants that the mare is lying down and possibly foaling. But nope—this horse had gotten only wishful thinking and had not been observed. That would be fine for my horses, as I don’t love mine that much, but this owner really loved her horse. These people would never know what I thought, and it was a waste of time to cry over spilled milk.

I had the owner hold the head, and I proceeded to wrap the tail and clean the vulva for my initial evaluation. I reached in with long obstetrical gloves and felt two hooves, but as I went further, I didn’t feel a head (this was majorly bad news). Then, as I went up the legs, I realized they were actually hind legs. A breech! I have had three or four breeches over the years. I was relieved, because the foal would most likely be extractable without too much problem.

I put chains around the foal’s legs, and I was thinking I hardly had to even enter her vagina, because the foal’s legs were so close to the outside. This helped keep future uterine infections at a minimum. Mares that are real kickers will tolerate these procedures in times of distress, such as foaling, and I have never been kicked doing it.

Most mares will lie down as I pull on the chains or the foal’s legs. This mare started to swing her back from side to side, and as I reached back to get handles on the chains, she started kicking. Not a good sign. Hoping there was a sleeping husband, I asked whether there was someone around to help. The pregnant woman left to call a neighbor.

By then I was convinced the mare was not going to tolerate me pulling, and she was not lying down. I was starting to wonder why I chose this profession. As I waited for someone to either get help or actually help, I looked around and thought, This is about as A Day in the Life 7 bad as it gets, though at least the view is good. I was looking at a grassy green meadow.

It wasn’t freezing, and the trees around the property were stunning and newly green, like spring trees can be. The forest was alive with the sounds of birds waking up—continuous warbling and chattering. Help didn’t appear to be on the way. The owner and I would have to pull the foal ourselves. There is a very safe way to anesthetize horses, and I have done it many times to facilitate getting a foal out of a mare.

There was no question the foal was dead, but on my own, with the only other able-bodied person holding the mare’s head, it was hopeless. So I decided to do my usual trick of knocking the mare out using a short-acting anesthetic, and about then a neighbor showed up. The mare went down perfectly in a slow swaying motion. She was lying on her side, and the chains were still intact. The owner was freed of trying to control the mare and she was then able to help as well.

So, the neighbor, the owner, and I braced ourselves down against the mare and pulled. It took about fifteen minutes to get the foal out. It was hard work, and I felt like a washrag and was getting stiff as a board, but these people didn’t know me, and I was pleased as punch about getting the foal out and glad the mare was not too damaged (at least not by me). I could see the neighbor now was studying me. Because of my shrimp size, I know that when I show up, people who don’t know me misjudge my ability. I rarely fail.

So I was thinking how impressed they all must have been. I waited until the mare woke up and explained that she needed to pass the placenta in a few hours, and that if she didn’t, they needed to contact their regular veterinarian. I also reminded the owner of what I had explained earlier on the phone: that I couldn’t follow up on the mare, as my schedule wouldn’t allow me to go that far away from my planned routine.

I dispensed oxytocin to be given to the mare later to help her pass the placenta. I was also thinking that the veterinarian who hadn’t answered the phone earlier that morning owed me a favor since I had covered for him or her. I called Shelley on my way home and said I would be back in a few minutes. She had slept through it all and was quite happy waking up on her own. “Did you save the horse and foal, Mum?” I hate “Mum,” but it is ingrained.

If she really wants something, she affects her American accent and calls me “Mom.” “Just the mare,” I said. “The foal was already dead.” Shelley was happy because she equates my absences for work with the source of money that finance trips to Disneyland. I have had problems with her resenting the time I spend working and away from home, but as she has matured, she has seemed to accept this trade-off of my quantity time for quality time.

Besides, 8 Horse Doctor if she starts to really complain, I suggest that she and I spend some motherdaughter time together, which usually corresponds to a time she would rather be with a friend. That usually cures any feelings of neglect. I was home by eight to see Shelley off to school (thanks to Sandy, my earlymorning veterinary nurse). I showered, washed my fetal-fluid-filled boots, and sterilized the chains. I also had a client waiting for me with her Appy (Appaloosa) mare who arrived early for an ultrasonic examination.

A mare is tested using a rectal probe that shows an image of a fetus or follicle that will, by size and shape, predict gestational age or optimal time for breeding. In this case, it was a pregnancy scan, and the mare wasn’t in foal, so that was the second bad news of the day. A good morning, and it was just starting.

I was writing up the accounts and getting ready for the normal day’s events when the phone rang again at about nine thirty with another mare foaling! This time it was close by and a miniature mare, so I took no help with me. That was dumb—really dumb. I drove ten minutes away to Lewiston, a small development on the plain, which is flat and dry. The contrast from my previous destination was dramatic.

This development contained two-acre plots where the lots were created for owners of one or two horses and a dog. I lived there when I first arrived in Australia. My husband and I bought property there, as it appeared to be in good horse country, and it was inexpensive.

There are mostly houses there now, but when we arrived, there was a mix of brick houses, mobile homes, and sheds that people secretly lived in until they could afford to build. We called the latter “shed people.” The properties had young trees, and they were sparsely spaced. The water to keep lawns was expensive, so many didn’t, and the landscaping was of the arid variety. While a few people could make that kind of landscaping beautiful, most didn’t.

I drove around the house through a tangle of wire and corrugated iron fencing. I parked next to the pen with my car, and a swarm of little horses and one donkey surrounded me. The donkey was braying nonstop, and again there was no head collar for the foaling mare, and the only person there was the owner’s partner, with his sandals, shorts, and asthma puffer in tow, who didn’t “know nothin’ ’bout no birthin’.”

He retrieved a head collar but didn’t have a clue how to put it on. I put it on with great difficulty, as the gorgeous chestnut mare was afraid of (i.e., hated) humans. The partner stood as far away as he could and explained that the mare had been in labor for an hour or two.

The real owner (the horse person) was busy at work and had told his partner not to call the vet and just to see if the mare had the foal. He thought that since the mare hated people, it was better to let her try to have it on her own (a deci- A Day in the Life 9 sion that he said he highly regretted when I saw him at the servo a few days later).

A stunning head and leg were out, but the other front leg was way back inside the pelvic brim. This was a bone cruncher. Every time I tried to reach in to get the leg that was folded back at the knee, the mare pushed my arm up against the pelvis, and I couldn’t move.

I tried for several minutes, with the attendee holding the rope and mare at arm’s and rope’s length, offering little support to steady her. She was rolling in pain, as I lay on the ground dodging her hind legs. So, again, I anesthetized the mare and started trying to get into that very small area with a chain while attempting to keep it all clean. It was very dusty, and I was getting no help.

I was again lying flat out on the ground, trying to loop a chain around the foal’s cocked leg. The braying donkey was still at it forty minutes later, and my cool, calm, humorous side was quickly being replaced by a seething, furious, ranting vet. Of course, other than to occasionally yell at the donkey, I said nothing. I knew it was going to make a funny story, but at the moment it was anything but.

A neighbor came over who had a mini horse himself. The man was clearly someone I could use to help, if I could get the chain around the leg. He was a client of mine as well, and he was cluey (savvy). I do have a few normal clients. I turned the mare every way I could to position her so I could get my hand in the right place, and I finally got the chain around the bent leg.

The neighbor had come over to get an ownership-transfer paper so he could show a stallion he had recently purchased from the owner of the foaling mare. He was ranting on about the paper he needed, and that alone. The guys were oblivious to the mare’s predicament. I got the chain on and tried to pull the leg out myself for several minutes.

During that time, all I was hearing was that the transfer needed to be done that day, and so on. It didn’t occur to either of them that I might need help. I just couldn’t pull the leg out myself. It was a three-hundred-pound mare, so you can imagine how hard it can be with a larger mare.

I finally asked them to help. The three of us were just pulling the whole mare backward, so I sat on the ground and braced myself, and they pulled behind me, using me as a fulcrum. It worked, and we released the leg from entrapment. In one more pull, a stunning, long-dead filly was pulled from the mare.

I left them the antibiotics, tetanus, painkillers, and so on, and as soon as the mare was up, I went back to the house to shower again. It was then noon, and I had to pick Shelley up from school to attend a doctor’s appointment on the far side of Adelaide, which was an hour from home.

We got back about four in the afternoon. I was thinking how good it would be to just sit, but I had to see the mini-mare again because she hadn’t passed her placenta. 10 Horse Doctor I had received reports that the other mare hadn’t passed her placenta either, but I had Odette, my day nurse and office manager, explain that I had so many other emergencies from my regular clients that I just couldn’t get back over there and that they would do best to go back to their own vet who was not far from them.

I now also had a case of colic (abdominal pain) in another mini owned by my all-time best client, Jenny Cocks, so I went there as well. I had one more call at six that evening. I was to meet a client at a stud where I was going to collect a stallion. This is a procedure in which semen is collected from a stallion to inseminate a mare when the au naturel method doesn’t work, or to ship semen, or for use in multiple mares from a single collection.

In this case, we had a willing stallion and a slightly willing mare with a to-die-for follicle but a closed cervix. After several attempted matings, she had not become pregnant, or “fallen” pregnant as they say in Australia, and we discovered the problem cervix. The only remedy was to get the sperm past the unwilling cervix and into the uterus, where it could do its thing, swimming up the fallopian tube and seeking nirvana.

The problem was that to collect the stallion, he has to jump on the mare, and I have to come in between them and grab the stallion’s penis and stick it into an artificial vagina (AV), which is a water-filled tubular rubber pipe that “feels most like mother herself.” The artificial vagina is very heavy and awkward. Usually the stallion is experienced, and it is no big deal, but this was this stallion’s first time for a collection.

This can take a while, as the AV is not the stallion’s preference. The stallion owners didn’t have hobbles for the mare, and she wasn’t as keen as she might have been. The artificial vagina was not filling properly, and the critical temperature just didn’t feel right. The critical temperature has a very small range. While the stallion might like it hotter, this could cause thermal injury to the sperm. In my youth, my father, now a retired horse vet, taught me how to set the temperature without a thermometer.

It is just as hot as I could stand to comfortably leave on the back of my hand as water flowed over it. I was pessimistic about getting it on the first go. The area we worked in was very small, and there was an audience (a recipe for disaster). The mare was restrained, and the stallion was brought up to her. She offered no resistance.

He climbed on board, and I quickly intervened with the AV, and after several hearty thrusts, to my amazement, he ejaculated! I collected the semen, and while it didn’t look crash hot (Australian for “great”), it was okay. I filled two syringes with the warm fluid, and the now-prepped mare was ready. I inserted a long pipette through the unwilling cervix and deposited the semen.

I left them some oxytocin to be given later to try and clear any excess fluid from the A Day in the Life 11 uterus, and the job was done. I didn’t get killed, and by seven it was dark and I was on my way home. I had Sandy with me for the afternoon calls, and I was so happy the day was over and I was going home. Again, Shelley was home alone, and I was thinking “fast food salvation”.

I got a call on my mobile phone from a long-forgotten client who had a horse with a “cut ball sack” (whatever that meant). I was sure it was an Australian slang term for something, but my true-blue Aussie assistant said she didn’t know what it meant either.

The client described her stallion with his testicle hanging out of the sack after failing to negotiate a fence between him and his paramours. It sounded interesting, but I was tired, the lady had a checkered past with me, and I had an eleven-year-old at home alone. I figured I needed to share the wealth and suggested she try someone else, as I could only see the horse if it came to the clinic.

I explained that I needed to be home with my daughter. After all, how much excitement can a girl stand in one day? Naturally, she agreed to bring the horse to me, so after we arrived home, I sent Sandy out for takeaway (takeout) while I cleaned up a bit. The stallion arrived at eight thirty with (no kidding) his testicle hanging six inches or so down out of his scrotum, which appeared torn.

It was very dark outside, and I was using the floodlights and a torch (flashlight) to view the devastation the fence post had caused. I thought about removing the testicle with the stallion standing with a local anesthetic, but I just couldn’t see very well and decided to knock him out and really look around. I thought his wound was near the abdomen, and I was worried there might be intestine in the mess as well.

His gums were pink, and I couldn’t see any suggestion of shock or significant blood loss. So we laid him down on the lawn under the floodlight by the house. It was a shocker even for me. He had lacerated his inner thigh and had shoved the testicle out the thigh laceration, which was about sixteen to seventeen inches long. No guts were visible, so I removed the single testicle and sutured up the laceration.

He was treated for pain and given antibiotics and was sent to a clinic stall for the night. I sent Sandy home at nine thirty and wrote up a few accounts. Shelley had gone to bed thirty minutes earlier. I found myself nodding in front of the computer. I then dragged myself to bed. If someone had asked me, “How was your day?” my reply would probably have been, “Good, no unauthorized deaths.”

Authorized deaths are a part of my daily life. I hate the “unauthorized” (unexpected) ones. Nobody died who shouldn’t have on my watch. That was not a typical day. I have days like that a couple times a month. The long and the short is that both mares survived. The colic got better. The “half-a- 12 Horse Doctor stallion” survived, and the mare we inseminated didn’t get in foal, but I have since begun waiting on another test in a natural mating during the next cycle, when the cervix opened up slightly.

I thought I could do no wrong that day, and I imagined how happy everyone was with me, but I later received a letter from the owner of the first mare complaining that I had failed to treat her horse properly and hadn’t followed up. Also, because she and the neighbor had provided two-thirds of the pulling, she was going to only pay one-third of the extraction portion of the bill.

I was stunned. In the end, she did pay the entire bill. I have to remember that in a time of crisis, clients often don’t hear all that is being said, and I am reminded that communication is the key to satisfaction. She was mad that I hadn’t provided follow-up.

I think her anger may have been fueled by the attendant, who probably felt hurt that she wasn’t included, and mad because she probably didn’t know I had explained my limitations to the owner when she had originally called. Go figure; you can’t please them all. The expectations of the two mare owners could never be met. I’m good, not God, and I haven’t brought one back from the dead yet. However, I remain vigilant.

I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. You can find the full book on Amazon.
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