Horsing Around in Vet School

Horsing Around in Vet School

As I sit down to write this article, I am thinking about the week that lies ahead. I have an exam on Friday, next Friday, and the following Friday. Classes take up a significant amount of my week. Then add in several hours of studying for every hour of class, sleeping, eating, and Netflix of course. On top of all of that, add in two hours at least five days a week to go to the barn to ride and care for my horse, Jimmy. Bringing a horse to veterinary school certainly isn’t easy, but for me it has been worth it, and here’s why:

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Lexi gets a hug from her horse, Jimmy.

  1. Stress Relief

Riding is one of the only times I am not thinking about school at all. It is so easy to let the stresses of vet school become permanent in your thoughts. While riding and caring for my horse, all of that goes away. Instead, my mind is occupied by other things: whether it be getting over the next jump or simply pondering how my horse manages to bring so much mud back from his pen.

Pro tip: Teach your horse to wrap his head and neck around you in a “hug”. More oxytocin is always a good thing (plus Jimmy is all about the carrots he gets after hugs).

  1.  Help From Friends
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Lexi with some of her equestrian friends.

There are of course times I am feeling overwhelmed and simply do not have the time to make it to the barn. This is when it is crucial to have someone available to exercise your horse for you. Who, you might ask? Well, in a class of 100 animal lovers, it is not hard to find a classmate who is looking for a horse to spend time with. So, find equestrian friends early, you can occasionally take a break and they can get back in the saddle!

Pro tip: Find a student in the class above or below you who wants a horse to ride. They might not have the same exam schedule and can often ride the day before your big exams!

  1. Convenient Veterinary Care

Although you will not be able to use Tufts as your on-farm primary care veterinarian, keeping your horse close to the Hospital for Large Animals has huge benefits. Jimmy is 20-years-old and has osteoarthritis and resulting soundness issues. When he needed hock and stifle joint injections this year, we took a 10 minute trailer ride down the road and the wonderful clinicians who teach our classes were there waiting to help! Besides the student discount, there is also the added bonus of getting to know the clinicians better!

Pro tip: Make sure the clinician knows you are a vet student, as you will likely be able to help with the procedure and get some hands-on experience.

  1. Studying Anatomy

I spent as much of my childhood as possible around horses, and thought I knew a decent amount about equine anatomy. Wrong! If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, try spending an hour in the anatomy lab with Dr. Kumar and the equine skeleton. There are so many carpals and tarsals and endless tiny, important prominences to remember. Having a horse nearby to review palpation points and anatomy is incredibly useful, and makes all the little details feel more important when there is a live horse in front of you.

Pro tip: Make sure your horse is set up with a nice big flake of hay to munch on while you poke and move him/her around to study anatomy. Even though you may have signed yourself up for hours of vet school studying, your horse may not feel the same!

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Jimmy dressed up as a reindeer for the holidays.

Despite all this, there are occasionally days where I am exhausted and pretty much have to drag myself to the barn. But then I get there, see this handsome face, and just like that the stress is gone!

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