Working as a veterinary technician intern at one of the most prestigious equine medical facilities in the country was the perfect setting for University of Minnesota Crookston senior Katie Warner to gain valuable skills and witness the latest techniques in the care of horses and foals.

    Working as a veterinary technician intern at one of the most prestigious equine medical facilities in the country was the perfect setting for University of Minnesota Crookston senior Katie Warner to gain valuable skills and witness the latest techniques in the care of horses and foals.

     The Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky., was home to Warner from January to July where she worked with thoroughbred mares and their foals during breeding season.

    The experience was a profound one for the Warba, Minn., native who is double majoring in equine science and animal science.

    “I loved the fast-paced environment, and after a week of orientation, it took about a month for me to gain the experience and confidence I needed to work with these incredible horses,” she says.

     “I learned everything I know about equine reproduction from Associate Professor Abdorrahman “Abdo” Alghamdi, and I became passionate about it through taking his courses in animal breeding and reproduction,” she continues. “Talking with him about his research and discussing the research he was involved with in Kentucky encouraged me to find opportunities there. “

     Warner’s favorite spot to work was the Institute’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The horses under her care were some of the most complicated cases. “Each of the big farms had their own veterinarian on staff,” she explains. “The horses that came to the clinic were in need of hospitalization that’s why they came to us. All of the patients needed 24-hour care and treatments every two hours so I worked 6-week rotations of different shifts, mornings, evenings, and overnights.”

     In her first week as an intern she was involved in the birth of a foal whose limbs were contracted and needed treatment to gain strength.

    “In the NICU we cared for horses who were two weeks old or younger,” she says. “As one of 26 interns in the medicine department at the Institute, I gained a valuable and broad learning experience.”

     At Hagyard, Warner saw a number of famous horses and enjoyed working with the latest technologies. “One of the interesting aspects of the work is their constant search for the best treatments,” she says. “They were always looking for ways to improve and to uncover new ways to treat their patients.

     It was rewarding for Warner to watch foals return to normal after suffering from neonatal encephalopathy, known as dummy foal, a condition stemming from oxygen deprivation during birth.

    One case in particular stands out for Warner.

     “I was present for the caesarian section, did physical therapy and treatments with the foal, helped it stand and nurse for the first time, and then, watch it progress and helped to load it on the trailer three weeks later.

     “We got to be a part of so many amazing recoveries, it was a privilege to learn from some of the best in the equine field,” she says.

     Warner wanted to come to the University of Minnesota Crookston for the hands on learning available in animal science and the small campus offered her greater opportunity for hands-on experience she wanted. Competing on the Golden Eagle Equestrian Team was also a draw, and she currently serves as a team captain.

     “The fact that the Crookston campus was small made my transition from high school easy,” she says. And, I felt like the campus offered an experience I could not get anywhere else.”

     Her love of science may be the result of having her mother as her high school science teacher. “She fed my interest in science,” Warner reflects.

     While still in high school, Warner took advantage of an opportunity to job shadow at the Animal Care Clinic in Hibbing, Minn., and followed up by spending two summers working for the clinic.

     Her background set the stage for her college career that in turn led to her internship at Hagyard. As her fall semester fills with classes and competition, she is also focused on applications for vet school.

     “My internship confirmed my interest in becoming an equine veterinarian,” she says. “I am certain that is what I want to do.”
 

    And, Warner is more than prepared to do it.