For this lab course, we are again working in teams of three or four. Different teams, though. This time we were teamed up based on our relative experience with horses. Each team has been assigned a miniature horse. Over the next 7 weeks, we will perform a variety of diagnostic procedures on the ponies (after labs in which we practice first on cadavers), and we will castrate the ponies in a couple of weeks.
The ponies are feral. Entirely feral, never been handled. Some are quite young (my team's pony is at most six months old), some are several years old. Feral mini ponies are little ninjas, and can strike you with front or rear hooves as they choose. They can also bite. However, we've been pretty lucky this year. Most of the ponies are so shocked at being yanked from a cold, muddy pasture somewhere in Oregon and placed in dry, warm pens with abundant food that they only put up token resistance to being haltered for the first time and being handled and dragged about for the first lab.
The ponies are owned by one individual who is making them available to the vet school for the use of the junior surgery lab. So far, they have been weighed, dewormed, vaccinated for tetanus, and had a physical exam and basic blood work done. Some arrived with conditions that required immediate treatment. About half of them are underweight and the students have to come in twice a day and give them additional rations. Because they are technically patients of the vet hospital, I can't post any pictures of them as that would violate client and patient privacy. But I can post this cool picture of a worm that we found on the floor of our pony's pen this afternoon (horses are social animals so the ponies are penned in groups of four; no telling which one passed it). Better living through deworming, right?
|Strongylus vulgaris, a common intestinal worm in horses.|
One of my classmates spotted the worm so I made her collect it in an exam glove that I had in my pocket. Everyone was excited and wanted to look at it. I eventually set it up on a paper towel in the female student's locker room so people could get pictures.
In case you hadn't noticed, by this point in our education, vet students are completely unacceptable to be let out into the general population.
Another example. We had an ophthomology lab today. We did some basic procedures on mares from the vet school's teaching herd but we practiced the more invasive procedures on heads from horse cadavers. Just the heads, sitting out on lab tables. The heads were used first by half of the class yesterday so by the time of our lab today, the eyeballs were not in great condition. So the first thing we did was pump a bunch of saline in to them to practice a particular type of injection, which had the beneficial effect of plumping them back up again.
We all openly acknowledge that we have crossed a sort of Rubicon. When non-vet people ask us what we are studying in class, we shrug and say, oh, you know, dogs and cats and horses and things. What we really want to say is, worms, eyeballs, and how to find barely descended testicles in young feral ponies.