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Equine July/August 2009 (Vol 4, No 6)

The Final Diagnosis — Through the Eyes, and Ears, of a Child

by Bo Brock, DVM, DABVP (Equine)

    A few years ago, Dr. Marty Ivey of Ruidoso, New Mexico, called me at about 11:00 pm with some bad news. He had a horse with colic that was probably going to need surgery. Based on the driving time from Ruidoso, I estimated that the horse would arrive at my practice in Lamesa, Texas, at about 3:00 am.

    I met the horse carrier at the clinic at the expected time, evaluated the horse, and confirmed Dr. Ivey's suspicions. I told the carrier that surgery was our only option.

    "This is a really special horse," said the road-weary carrier. "I sure hope you can save him."

    Over the years, I've learned that every horse is a "really special horse" in the eyes of someone. Now, I just agree and go on.

    Then the carrier followed up with, "This horse belongs to Toby Keith."

    I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by mixed emotions: proud that Toby Keith's horse was brought to my clinic, worried that Toby Keith's horse was brought to my clinic, and, to be honest, a bit more pressed than usual to do my best during surgery. As I scrubbed in, I could see a picture of me on Country Music Television, with Toby Keith telling the interviewer, "Yeah, that's the stupid vet in Lamesa who killed my best horse." Worse yet, I might become the subject of a new country song about the "redneck vet from West Texas."

    My surgical crew performed the surgery just as we had on hundreds of other horses before. It went well, and the patient looked good when we headed to our homes at the crack of dawn.

    When I arrived home, I gathered the three Brock girls together to tell them the news. They love Toby Keith, have all of his CDs, and know every song by heart. I knew they'd have lots of WOWs and REALLYs for me.

    While the two oldest girls were clearly excited, my youngest, Kimmi, floored me by saying, "I knew this was going to happen," with an "I told you so" look in her eyes as if she had been expecting this for some time. What in the world, I wondered, would elicit this reaction from an 8-year-old child?

    My wife, Kerri, and I sat there stunned, until Kimmi said, "Yeah, I knew it was going to happen. You're not supposed to give beer to horses!"

    For those of you who haven't heard the Toby Keith song she was referring to, the line is, "Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses." While I've never understood what this line meant, Kimmi figured it was just a matter of time before Toby's horse ended up in Lamesa with gut problems. A diagnostic clinician in the making.

    Fortunately, the horse did well and went home. We never heard a word from Toby, but as far as Kimmi was concerned, I should have let him know that whiskey might be okay for men, but he better keep the beer away from his horses.

    NEXT: Therapeutics in Practice — Treating Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infection

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