Elizabeth has retired and the clinic is no longer operating.
Yes, I am retiring.
I am one of the luckiest veterinarians in the world. Many of my colleagues are jealous of my life and practice.
How many people get to work in a job where they get the rewards of intellectual stimulation, an incredible working environment and get to work on the nicest horses on the earth? The reason is you. Not your horses, it is YOU.
I arrived here in 1991 and was experiencing major burnout from my practice in California. I had a wonderful veterinary clinic over there, but the demands of horse owners was taking its toll on me.
The first case I saw here was from a chance meeting with an inspection officer at the airport who realized I was bringing in some veterinary equipment. After establishing that I was a horse vet, he asked me to go examine a horse with a potential broken leg. I could not do anything official as I was not licensed, but he said they were waiting for a week or more to have their vet out and would I look at the horse as a favour. This would have been a “five alarm bell-get out here now or you’re fired” call from my American clients. I did attend and it was obvious it was fractured. Yikes, these people were casual.
And that is how it has been over the next 25+ years; reasonable clients with reasonable expectations. I had worked on high-powered horses with high-powered owners over the years and I was over it. I didn’t need to be vet to the stars… I received more pleasure from attending colicky ponies owned by families with small children.
I was also given free rein to solve problems such as Soursob toxicity, and how to treat burn cases economically and how to economically treat colics in ponies via standing flank laparotomy, all of which have been published in respected journals. You didn’t demand the high-end referral. You were happy to leave it in my hands and I did the best that I could. So, in the end, I never experienced major burnout. (Don’t ask my staff if that is true, they might say otherwise.)
The next thing that I need to thank you for is your horses. 99% of the horses are well-behaved and reasonable to deal with. I think there are two factors. One is thank goodness for pony clubs and the educational system for teaching horse lovers and riders to properly handle horses. In short, you are good horsewomen and horsemen which made my job easy. The other is the stabling of horses. Most horses in our area are turned out and are happy adjusted horses, free of the anxiety that stalled horses often experience. There are always exceptions, but they are rare.
There have been memorable horses that captured my heart. I remember one horse who came to the clinic with a terminal condition. The horse was a known dangerous horse which had contributed to her terminal illness. She was dying and somehow she and I connected. At this stage, I was treating horses and was probably a good vet, but my passion for horses in general had waned. Something about this horse reignited my passion and there has not been a single horse that I have dealt with since that I have not found at least one redeeming quality. In short I was once again a horse crazy vet.
Finally, my staff and the people I rely on to get the job done have made my life and the work I do so pleasurable over the years. From the young kids who came to clean or watch what we do, to my expert nurses and office staff and the vets who joined me for months to years, I have a pretty cushy job. The other people who have made my life easy are also important. The funeral directors, IT personnel, drug suppliers and even our beloved mail delivery guy.
So now it is time to hang up my stethoscope. I plan to reacquaint myself with my family and the hard end of a fishing rod. As many of you know, my new passion is writing. My initial plan is to write fiction about horse vets. I am incorporating veterinary stories that come from my 36 + years of experience in the profession. Stand by on that announcement.
I will be a regular old lady. As tempted as you are to ask my opinion, I won’t be available. You are not being weaned. It is cold turkey. I wish you and your family well. Hughsey and I will bow out on the 18th of December, 2020. Garage sales will ensue. Even Hughesy will be up for auction. He comes with a full prepurchase exam and costumes.
So thanks for the ride. I am the luckiest vet I know.