Not every day at the hospital is filled with emergency colic surgeries, traumatic injury, or infectious diseases. There are many days when the doctors are making routine well-horse care calls on the farm. We decided to do a ride along with Dr. Hoover to see what a typical day can be like for an equine veterinarian.
7:30 am: Rounds
Each day at the clinic starts with rounds. The doctors, and vet techs converge at the clinic to confer on cases both in the clinic and on the farm. Afterwards the doctors hit the ground running.
8:30 Am: Off To CMB Training in Winfield, MO
Dr. Hoover and vet tech Amanda loaded up the iconic maroon Mid-River’s truck and made their way to Abby Bromwich’s, the owner and trainer at CMB Training. On the docket were 13 coggins and dental checks, including one new client, Joey, a Foxtrotter and owner Billie.
But just because a doctor is in transit doesn’t mean she isn’t still practicing and caring for patients. Before Dr. Hoover can make it out of the truck she is on the phone consulting with the office about a mare’s ultrasound. While Dr. Hoover consults over the phone, Amanda is busy pulling the dental equipment and head-stand out of the truck and setting up “shop” for Dr. Hoover.
As soon as her phone call has concluded, Dr. Hoover bounds out of the truck with a smile on her face and a sense of enthusiasm. She spends a few minutes greeting Abby and they do a quick run down of patients.
As Dr. Hoover moved from one horse to the next, it was easy to see that she hasn’t lost her youthful wonder and awe for horses. She gently and quietly greeted each horse by patting them on the head, speaking to him or her softly, and in some cases giving them a gentle face nuzzle.
Her compassion doesn’t stop with the horses. Joey’s mom Billie was a first time client and had never met Dr. Hoover. As most horse owners will admit, we tend to be more concerned about our horse’s health then our own. This is exactly why Billie took the day off work. She wanted to be with Joey during his dental check with Dr. Hoover to make sure everything was okay.
Joey did need his teeth floated and poor Billie had never seen this procedure performed; it was almost too much for her to bear. Just like any nervous mom, she was concerned that the floating would be painful (as you can imagine the power tools can be a little intimidating). Dr. Hoover took the time to explain to her that it was relatively painless and likened it to “a bunch of bees buzzing in your head.”
Once the procedure was over, Dr. Hoover took the time to get to know Billie, and to learn more about Joey. This was also a great opportunity to answer any questions Billie had.
Dr. Hoover and Amanda made their way through the herd without too many surprises. Of the 13 horses, 6 did need their teeth floated and one extraction was performed. The two-year-old paint filly needed to have her wolf teeth pulled. If you have a young horse, don’t wait until it’s 4 or 5 years old for its first dental check. Remember you can include the dental check at no extra cost with any other regular well-care visit.
With several horses needing to have dental work done, Dr. Hoover and barn owner Abby had plenty of time to tell stories and share many laughs. But the highlight of the morning was when vet tech Amanda got to meet her first leopard appaloosa. If she could have, she probably would have taken it home; it was quite the stunning horse. Unfortunately for Amanda, the 4-year-old Appy was heading to Wisconsin in a just few days to become a costume horse.
12:00 PM: Back at the Clinic
Arriving back at the clinic, Dr. Hoover spends a few minutes conferring with Dr. Ellis about her patient, a horse with chronic uveitis. Together they agree on a treatment protocol to hopefully save the eye and spare the owner an expensive eye removal surgery.
After a bite to eat the duo was off again, this time heading to Washington, Missouri.
12:30: Heading to Barefoot Stables
Dr. Hoover headed to Barefoot Boarding Stables facility to do a follow-up on a 5-day-old Gypsy filly. The filly was originally seen shortly after birth because it was struggling to stand and the mare was kicking at her because she thought something was wrong. When Dr. Hoover arrived, she described the filly as looking “shriveled like a raisin.” Clearly the baby was dehydrated and lacking nutrition. After an examination of the mare, Dr. Hoover concluded that the mother was not producing enough milk to sustain the young filly.
The mare was put on Equidone. This drug encourages milk production. However, the milk would not come in fast enough to adequately feed the foal. So in the interim, Dr. Hoover had inserted a feeding tube. The baby would have to be tube fed every two hours. Hopes were that the tube would be coming out today.
Upon arrival, Dr. Hoover noted how much more filled out the foal had become and was pleased to see it bouncing around. There is just nothing better than seeing a once sick little baby prancing about. This was a good sign and the baby’s feeding tube would be coming out today. Piper (the barn manager) was thrilled saying “Yay, we can finally get some sleep!”
The mare was starting to produce more milk but the utter still wasn’t producing to Dr. Hoover’s satisfaction. This would mean Piper would still need to bucket feed milk replacer to the filly for the time being.
The next stop was to check on another pregnant mare at the stable. The mare was due any time and had been acting uncomfortable: lying down, getting up, moaning, knocking into her stall and the mare’s family was concerned that she was overdue and may be having trouble.
This was the mare’s and families first time foaling and no one knew quite what to expect, especially her 10-year-old owner Kennedy. And like any family, everyone is excited about the impending birth. Nearly the entire family was on hand for the pre-natal exam: Kennedy, her twin sister, her two brothers, their mom, the barn manager and a trainer. Dr. Hoover’s exam turned into a mini-clinic as she performed the ultrasound. The whole group gathered around to see pictures of the baby on the screen while Dr. Hoover explained what they were seeing.
Dr. Hoover’s exam revealed the baby was moving into the birthing canal but was still pretty far down and had a way to go. Dr. Hoover also noted the mares utter didn’t appear to be developing normally. She was afraid this mare was not going to produce enough milk to feed her baby. She put her on Equidone to encourage milk production.
Equidone does not work overnight so Dr. Hoover instructed the owner to acquire some frozen colostrum in case the mare was not producing milk when the baby arrived. Colostrum is the first product secreted from the utter and contains all of the antibodies a foal needs to stay healthy and fight off infection. A foal is born without anti-bodies and the only way for it to get them is from the mare’s colostrum. By having a backup source of colostrum on hand, they are ensuring the baby gets off to a good start.
Dr. Hoover and Amanda said their final good-byes to the very large crowd and headed back to clinic.
In all, Dr. Hoover managed 16 patients that day, including two first-time patients. There was nothing life threatening or immediately critical, but nonetheless, one fulfilling and full day of veterinary work. Sometimes these are the best of days. Everyone goes home happy and healthy.