This summer I was given the wonderful opportunity to travel to Australia. The southern hemisphere was just entering their equine breeding and racing seasons, so I able to learn about each aspect of this fascinating industry. My trip began at Ballarat Veterinary Practice in Victoria, an hour outside Melbourne. This busy clinic is located next to the Dowling Forest Race Track and supports several training barns in the area. The majority of their patients are race horses, a mix of "gallopers" (Thoroughbreds) and "trotters" (Standardbreds). Ballarat has 3 board certified equine surgeons on staff and most procedures are focused on orthopedics. The practice also has access to a high-speed treadmill to help diagnose dynamic upper airway diseases. Ballarat is one of the only clinics offering nerve muscular pedicle graft surgeries for horses diagnosed as "roarers." By taking pedicles from cervical nerves, the doctors at Ballarat are able to facilitate re-innervation of the muscles, which open the larynx and allow maximal airflow during race work. It was an amazing experience watching these surgeries and learning about the induction, recovery and monitoring of anesthesia.
Besides surgery, Ballarat functions as a referral hospital with a wide range of services offered; everything from imaging (including nuclear scintigraphy), to internal medicine and reproduction. I also really enjoyed going out on field calls-learning veterinary medicine WHILE getting to see the Australian countryside. One of the veterinarians would go down to the racing stables every morning for lameness evaluations, while other associates would go on calls to local family farms. I stayed with one of the associates and an intern, which made it easy to tag along on emergencies, both at the clinic and in the field. In addition, Ballarat offers some non-equine services as well, so I got to witness my first calving and overcome an irrational fear of alpacas. J
After leaving Ballarat, I took a quick trip north to the Great Barrier Reef (because I too, wanted to find Nemo), and then journeyed to Scone, New South Wales. Scone is known as the "Horse Capital of Australia," and is second only to Kentucky as the largest horse breeding area in the world. In fact, many of the top thoroughbred stallions from American are sent to this area to stand at stud during our summer months. There, I visited the Satur Veterinary Clinic, where I was able to learn about the earlier phases of the thoroughbred industry. In Scone, the industry focuses on the breeding, foaling and early care of prospective racers. We shot MANY survey radiographs for yearling sales and performed surgeries on foals that showed abnormalities. Usually this included injecting lesions or conducting orthopedic surgeries to correct angular limb deformities. Being there at the very start of the foaling and breeding seasons allowed me to see many of the pathologies associated with equine reproduction, especially premature foalings and late term fetal losses. These cases were always interesting to learn from, as we cultured uteruses to determine causes of abortion and conducted necropsies on foals that were too dysmature to survive. The owners of the Satur Clinic were kind enough to welcome me into their home, acting both as hosts and full time veterinary tutors as well as answering any and all of my questions no matter the topic (or hour). I wish they could have fit in my suitcase to bring home for third year!
I had such an amazing experience in Australia and felt I gained exposure to many facets of the racing industry-from conception to track. Thank you, to the International Programs, for making this trip possible.