May 5, 2015

Amazing equine athletes inspire newly graduated veterinarians

UCVM graduates set sights on a future in advanced horse care
'Amazing' equine athletes inspire newly graduated veterinarians
Veterinary Medicine students Kayla Dykstra, left, and Naomi Crabtree Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

One grew up a city kid and the other riding horses on her family’s acreage.

Now, Naomi Crabtree and Kayla Dykstra — who graduate from the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) this week — aspire to two different but related specialties: equine surgery and equine sports medicine.  

Both young women received Equine Foundation of Canada’s Ruth Younie Scholarship in their fourth year, and are grateful for the award that helped them finish their studies.

“I wouldn’t say I always knew I was going to work with horses,” says Crabtree, who was born in Britain and moved with her family to an acreage near Calgary when she was nine. “My interest in horses only grew through school, learning their anatomy and physiology and what amazing athletes they are, that interested me that much more.”

Naomi Crabtree

Naomi Crabtree

After her one-year internship at the Idaho Equine Hospital in Nampa, Idaho, Crabtree plans to pursue a large animal surgical residency and become an equine surgeon.  “This lofty goal at long last feels like an achievable one, thanks to the support and education I've received while at UCVM.”

Crabtree credits UCVM’s equine faculty and the clinical skills program with providing her an invaluable grounding.

“Going out on the fourth-year rotations, you really realize how important these skills labs were. I’m proud of the confidence with which I can handle an initial emergency colic workup or my logical approach to a lameness case,” she says. “I have a lot more to learn, but the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired at U of C have certainly made me more comfortable dealing with the cases to come.”

Kayla Dykstra

Kayla Dykstra

Meanwhile, Crabtree’s classmate Kayla Dykstra will intern at Steinbeck Country Equine, a large practice near Salinas, California. Dykstra’s first experience with horses was attending horse camp at Griffin Valley Ranch northwest of Calgary, an experience that left a lasting impression. She went on to volunteer there and later work as a summer riding camp co-ordinator. Now, after four years of veterinary education, Dykstra is channelling her passion for horses into a specialized veterinary career.

“After my internship I am considering pursuing a residency in equine sports medicine or surgery,” she says. 

Dykstra says highlights of her equine education at UCVM include the equine dentistry and lameness practicum rotations she did in her fourth year.  “These rotations took many of the small skills and pieces of equine knowledge I had and gave me the opportunity to put them all together with plenty of hands-on experience. Our equine faculty are amazing and equine labs during clinical skills were always the best weeks.”

Crabtree echoes that sentiment.

“Our equine professors are dedicated, hard-working and experts in their respective fields. In addition to all of the knowledge and skills they have passed on, they have been true mentors to me and have really helped shape my future career aspirations and achieve my goals.”