Meet Ryan Corrigan - Licensed Veterinary Technician!
So we have gotten to know a few other Grooms, but in this installment of "Meet the Groom" I broke the rules and talked to a Licensed Veterinary Technician. Not only because I make the rules and can therefore break them, but because she's my friend. Oh - and she has great information to share, too.
I first met Ryan Corrigan a few years ago when she was working for a Veterinarian in San Diego. We shared a love for horses, yoga, and both of us have loved ones on Active Duty. Loads of common ground. Now we are both on the other coast, and what better time to pick her brain and learn what horse care is like from the Veterinary side of things.
So off we go!
I knew that Ryan was a competent rider and very passionate about her job. I just didn't quite know how she ended up where she did... "I grew up with horses. My mum is a horse girl and introduced me to them as a very little girl. I was never totally horse crazy but I have always loved them. I competed in a couple local hunter shows as a kid and rode for the Purdue University IHSA Hunter/Jumper team my freshman year. I decided to commit my Veterinary career to the horse world because I really love the personalities of horses and the bonds they form with the people who love them."
She looks pretty horse crazy to me!
Ryan and I out gallavanting around one day. Girl can ride!
After college, Ryan started working towards some impressive credentials. She (thankfully) explains some of titles and certification that she has. “I am a licensed Veterinary technician in Virginia and am also licensed in Indiana as a Registered Veterinary Technician. We are akin to Registered Nurses (RN) in the kind of knowledge we have, schooling we go through, and roles we play in Veterinary hospitals. One day I would like to see us have one nationally recognized title like the RNs have - as it is now you can be an LVT, RVT, CVT (Credentialed), or AHT (Animal Health Technician). It can get confusing. Licensed technicians have a boarding committee that allows us to specialize in the areas we are most interested in, this committee is called the Veterinary Technician Specialty Board (VTS). In 2011 they created a VTS for Equine Nursing which is what I am pursuing right now. I submitted my application to the academy in May and was just accepted! I sit my board exam in December to become board certified in equine nursing.” (SHE PASSED!!!)
From here on out, I picked Ryan’s brain so that we could all get some valuable knowledge on how we can be better horse Grooms and owners.
-What do you see “in the field” that horse owners can pay more attention to that will help their horses? “Knowing what is normal behavior for your horse is really important in determining when something is not right and may need to be seen by your Veterinarian. It is important for horse owners to be comfortable with taking a temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate on their horses and knowing what is abnormal for their individual horse. Also, I would remind owners to remain diligent in checking the stall, barn, and fields their horses live in for any nails, broken boards, or other items the horses could injure themselves on. I've seen a number of horses that have been injured by equipment left in their turnout fields. “
I think it’s safe to say by now that you all know how adamant I am about TPR and also about owning a rolling roofing magnet for metal pick up at the barn. (It’s like Ryan is reading my mind, in a not creepy way!)
-What do you think is the most important part of horse grooming as it relates to disease prevention and health care? “Biosecurity! The biggest thing Grooms and owners can do to keep their horses healthy is maintain good biosecurity. What this means is keeping the Grooming area clean, keeping items like buckets, thermometers, and tack individual to one horse. Most infectious disease is spread by nose to nose contact or mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can not be totally erradicated, but keeping sick horses separate is possible. If you notice a horse has a cough or nasal discharge don't turn him out with all the rest of the horses. Being overly cautious with isolation protocols is much better (and less expensive!) than having an entire barn of sick horses needing treatment.”
-What are some critical items to have in your horse's first aid kit? Straight from the Veterinary Technician’s mouth: “A good first aid kit MUST include a thermometer, bandage scissors, gauze squares, saline, betadine scrub and the Veterinarian's phone number. I would also recommend having some basic bandage material like Telfa non-stick pads, conform bandage material, white and brown gauze and Vetrap. You could also put in there an inexpensive stethoscope, triple antibiotic, and oral Bute/Banamine.”
Ryan and one of her Patients!
- Why is it important for horse owners to include their Veterinary team with even the smallest of Vet issues? Ryan, who has answered a zillion of my “OH WHAT DO I DO” questions, sums this up nicely. “Well, small issues can become big issues if left ignored or mismanaged. A swollen leg could be indicative of a more serious tendon issue, a snotty nose could be a more serious contagious disease, and a slight fever could make your horse feel under the weather and stop eating/drinking which could lead to colic. While these issues may not require a Vet visit, giving your Veterinarians office a call and consulting with a LVT or Veterinarian could help you stay on top of things. It will also give your Veterinarian a better clinical picture if a bigger problem does arise.”
-What are some basic things that horse owners can incorporate into their grooming routine to help their athletes? Lots of options out there for Grooms and owners alike to support their horse’s athletic endeavors, but Ryan reminds us that sometimes simple is best. “I’m a really big fan of icing! I know we can not all afford a fancy icing machine, but applying an ice pack will help decrease inflammation in those lower limb tendons and ligaments. It's cheap, easy, readily available and there are many great equine ice packs available. I also think finding a Veterinarian that is trained in chiropractic work is another great addition to any equine athletes routine. I've personally seen horses that have been sore on a musculoskeletal exam prior to chiropractic work and afterwards they are much more comfortable. They also seem to really enjoy it! They relax into it and get a sleepy look in their eye during the adjustment, watching the horses be adjusted makes me want to give it a try!”
I'm certain that the next time I have a cold I'm calling Ryan to help me out.
-What do Vets and Vet techs want horse owners to know? I wasn’t sure what I would get in response to this question - I’m so glad I asked, Ryan’s answer never occurred to me. “Veterinarians and LVTs want horse owners to know how to properly restrain their horses. Most of the time that Veterinarians are working on your horse, he is in some kind of pain and it is important that you keep a good grip on your horse and pay attention to what the Vet is doing. When your horse is in pain he may react in ways you would not expect and keeping the Veterinarian safe is very important. Holding a loose lead line and looking at your phone will not help the Vet when he is injecting the hocks and your horse kicks out. I will also add that just because they are sedated does not mean they will not react suddenly. Some horses are less predictable when sedated and may even act aggressively.”
-Do you know of any resources that Vets have, in case a horse owner or Groom needs to report abuse or neglect? Ryan, once again, keeps things simple for us. “If an owner or Groom suspects abuse or neglect they need to contact their local Animal Control. Animal Control will then come out and look at the horse in question and if it truly is abuse or neglect they can call for a Veterinarian to come out and confirm this through a physical and musculoskeletal exam. “
-What words of wisdom (or jokes) would you tell someone that wanted to get involved in Veterinary medicine? “Don't get into Veterinary medicine because you "don't like people", because no animal has ever taken itself to the Vet. On the other end of every leash and lead line is a person that wants the best care for their fur baby. “
Thank you Ryan!! Would you want to become a Veterinary Technician?