I was given a pretty awesome opportunity today. One of the equine field service clinicians emailed me a few days ago to ask if I would like to go to a horse show this weekend and help with some drug testing. I was incredibly excited that he thought of me, and immediately accepted, at least for Friday. I have our friend’s wedding tomorrow evening, so I wasn’t sure if I could go on Saturday. He sent me the info and said to meet them at a local arena at 6am Friday morning to carpool out to the horse show.
I wasn’t sure who all was going to the show, but it wound up being just the equine field service clinician, one of the equine internal medicine clinicians and a medicine resident.
We met at the arena at 6am and made the 2 hour drive to the horse show. Along the way we talked about how things were going to run. Our head clinician was going to randomly choose the horses to test, and the other three of us were the “technicians,” meaning we were supposed to follow the horse around until it went back to its stall. Once the horse was put back in its stall, we were to collect a urine sample, call the head clinician, and have him come draw the blood sample with the owner or trainer present as a witness.
When we arrived at the showgrounds we piled out of the car and stocked our bags of sample-collecting goodies. We also got official ID tags, so I looked pretty legit ;)
The first horse we did together as a team, and then I was assigned a horse to do on my own. He was a good kid and urinated almost immediately after coming back to his stall. My second mare was not as cooperative. First, the rider told me that she was naughty and would try to bite and kick me (neither of which happened). Then I had to follow her around while she was cooled out, had a bath, and then stood in the grooming stall to dry. I literally stood and watched a horse air dry for an hour. Horses usually don’t urinate until they’re back in their stall on shavings, so needless to say standing in the grooming stall on rubber mats for an hour didn’t exactly incite her to pee. When she was finally put back in her stall, she was totally on to my game. Every time she would squat to pee, I would try to sneak into the stall, and she would stop and look at me like, “What are you doing?” At one point I caught a tiny bit of pee before she could stop the stream and we decided to call that good.
My third horse was thankfully a cooperative guy, and he urinated almost immediately upon entering his stall. I almost missed it, he was so quick!
We definitely had some interesting interactions with owners and trainers today. At big hunter/jumper shows like this one, it’s almost impossible to keep from drug testing horses from the same trainer or stable. Some of the trainers who had multiple horses tested, or had other horses tested earlier in the week by different veterinarians were irritated about having their horses tested again. Honestly, if you’re competing drug-free, you should be happy that we’re out drug testing because we’re eliminating the competition who is competing at an unfair advantage. Also, the veterinarians who do the sample collection for the drug testing don’t have access to the results or even know what drugs are being tested for. We do have the clients’ best interests in mind.
Most of the competitors and trainers were actually really nice and helpful, so we really did have a good time. I’ll never turn down the opportunity to hang out at a horse show for a day :)
And the big surprise on the way home was that I was getting paid! I got paid a ridiculous amount of money, in my opinion, to catch pee from horses all day. It was such a surprise to be paid to do something fun, I think I could get used to this ;)
That’s all for now! I’m going to celebrate my first paying gig since vet school started, and I’ll be back with updates on the wedding tomorrow night and the surprise 10K we’re running Sunday morning!